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Impurities Disguised by Faith (May 31, 2009)

Page history last edited by Brajendra 10 years, 8 months ago

 

This lecture was given at the "Sanctuary" in NYC Manhatten on May 31, 2009.

 

Listen here

 

Transcription of the First Part without questions and answers

 

Krishna consciousness is a series of interesting experiences and we're coming from an unusual and interesting experience.  Nothing scandalous. You maybe a little disappointed. So I thought that I would tell you about where we've been and what we've experienced because we've just gone through an experience - myself and my travelling companions.  So I'll just jump into it - not keep you in suspense.

Before I went to Florida, I became friends with a very nice lady who was a university professor and from India teaching in Florida who was a member of another spiritual organisation. An organization which is for the most part led by some of the women which is of course as we know as Gaudiya Vaisnavsas, that’s very scary - just kidding. Anyway it is an organisation which is led for the most part by some of the women and at her invitation we went to a not gigantic but an impressive spiritual retreat center in the Catskill mountains. We stayed there for one week.

The reason we are practising Krishna Consciousness, the reason we advocate it, is that we think it is the best thing going. Now this is not fanatical position hopefully. We are not denying the usefulness, validity and even the glory of other spiritual approaches but we still we think that this is ultimately the best thing people can do if they are able to. And hopefully we think that way not along the lines of a car salesman or sales person.

So I want to introduce a few psychological principals and then invoke it or apply it to my recent experience. There is a reason why crimes of passion are so frequent among crimes, among violent crimes. Because of the sense of which people are attached to each other or for when people somehow identify with each other conflict will be more threatening or more disturbing. For example, we'll give an example of this in the religious field.  If someone is preaching something very much like what we are preaching in a sense it is more threatening than someone who is living a life or preaching a doctrine which is obviously ridiculous. For example we don't feel philosophically threatened by terrorists or people who live very materialistic lives, and are basically decadent. We don't feel that's a real challenge. 

It is a challenge to convince people to give up that kind of life, but in terms of – I don’t want to use crass modern terms like market shares. It is interesting if you read for example English novels from 200 years ago. What's interesting is there's all this military imagery, just normal speech. For example, it was very common back then to say that if you were really in love, you would say you were violently in love.  In fact in a wedding proposal a man was expected to say that - fall to his knees and express that he was violently in love.  They talked a lot the language of conquering and attack.  If you were trying to get the better of some one in a conversation that was an attack - just a normal conversation.

In our age language is permeated by business imagery. For example, you buy into an idea or the essence of something is the bottom line. Or before you choose a particular course of action you have do a cost benefit analysis.  So it's very interesting how our language is permeated by business imagery because of the exalted state of civilisation at this time.

Anyway, because we are trying to present Krishna Consciousness, we are trying to persuade people to accept Krishna Consciousness. Naturally, if someone is presenting something that could be mistaken for Krishna Consciousness, that's more dangerous than something which could not possibly be mistaken for Krishna Consciousness. For example, in the early days in the movement if people declared themselves vegan - say a guest at a temple - and therefore they  were shy about actually eating our prasadam, that proved that they were actually degraded, as proved by their concern for animal rights and things like that. I mean our whole point was that this is the highest morality, so don’t be impudent and try to be more moral than we are.

When I was a young devotee hardly a Sunday went by without a Sunday feast play with a Bhogi Yogi in it.  Anyone who practised Hatha yoga or meditation was deeply deluded, otherwise why would they practice yoga. In fact there was a tendency in the early days of the movement to stigmatize the mode of goodness.

It got to such irrational extremes among certain people - I don't want to demonize the Hare Krishna movement because I haven't eaten yet tonight and I don’t want to jeopardize my free meal. It's my main reason for coming down here. For example, having rational concerns for your bodily health, or just in general wanting to cultivate the mode of goodness, even in Krishna Consciousness, was somehow considered a lack of faith.  It's interesting, you find the same psychology in other new religious movements,  for example the new religious movement called the Jesus movement 2000 years ago where Paul in his letters almost ridicules people who want to observe any type of dietary regulation. You should prove your love in the sense of abandoning all other types of religious regulations.  Judaism at that time was much more diverse than it is nowadays, and among that diversity one of the predominant paths and the one whose followers Jesus often encountered was what the New Testament called the pharisaic approach which was very much like the Indian smarta brahmanas. We are getting our information about these people from their opponents, which is always dangerous, but roughly it is the idea being that just by following all kinds of technical rules and regulations,  that one can sort of discipline oneself into heaven.  If you follow enough rules, if you regulate your life, like if you sneeze, you have turn around two times, I don't know chant some mantra while throwing salt.

Paul wants to establish the independence, the total absolute independence of the path of following Jesus.  He wants to establish this so he suspends or he urges people to suspend all kinds of regulations, even what might have been at the time rational dietary restrictions. In this way you prove your love.

There was a little bit of the same psychology among us as you find in general among the religious movements. In early Buddhism, if you studied the history of early Buddhism,  there's a very interesting theme if you study history of religions, that the first and second and succeeding generations of followers of great leaders tend to be more extreme and severe than their founder. You find the early followers of Buddha going far beyond Buddha Himself in denying the soul, in denying God, going far beyond Buddha Himself, who was actually somewhat ambivalent about these things. Similarily, the early followers of Jesus who gradually constructed a fanatical one way programme that this is the only way. Something that Jesus actually never taught. You find this in the followers of Shankara. Historians have noted that Shankara is somewhat a closet or halfway out of the closet Vaisnava. The current consensus among Western scholars is that Shankara was a Vaisnava of some sort because of his real devotion to Krishna.

Nowadays, if you study the sort of very specific micro culture called liberal academic culture, what you find is that views tend to be very far to the left of society in general and yet they control the universities. So a situation something like that existed around the time of Shankara where you had a group of people who controlled the intellectual institutions of that time but that did not reflect the feeling or views of many people. So in that sense Shankara speaking to that intellectual elite is also considered covered Buddhism.

He tried to connect with the intellectual currents of that time, tried to bring people back to the Vedic position. His followers went beyond Shankara in denying, that there could be anything like a personal God who would be of any interest to an intelligent person.  The impersonalism of the followers of Shankara was more severe and more extreme than he himself. An interesting question to raise would be, is that possible among us? Is it possible that certain groups among us could become more extreme than Prabhupada in terms of their presentation of orthodoxy and that they could insist on rigour where Prabhupada taught flexibility? These are some of the issues which someone better be thinking about. As loyal members of Prabupada’s mission, which began in this neighborhood, we have to be able to have an historical view and try to monitor, try to construct historical radar and see where are we right now.

Some people feel that in Vedic culture or in sane and civilized and appropriate Vedic culture women shouldn't lead. At the same time I just spent a week in a place which was in many ways better managed than many ISKCON centres I've seen - actually far better managed than some ISKCON centers I've seen. And it was managed by women. In terms of the quality of reception, in terms of the cleanliness and in many different ways it was just an immaculate and very well managed operation. Managed by women. It seems to me that if we want to present a spiritual science, we often make this claim that we are presenting a spiritual science and it is, to use a cliché, a double edged sword because when you make the claim you take on a certain responsibility. To say that Krishna Consciousness is a science is not just a really cool sound bite which allows us to position ourselves above every other religion on earth although other people also claim these spiritual sciences.  When we claim that we are a spiritual science, we have to be scientific. And we have to see what the real world is.  We have certain teachings which are purely theological for example the nature of God, the personal form of God, the nature of His eternal spiritual form, the activities of God in the spiritual world, how God descends to this world in the avatar. Krishna comes as an avatar which He describes Himself in the BG, chapter 4 - which generally in the ancient literatures is called avatara katha. Explaining the avatars, Krishna personally talks about His descent into this world. There are purely theological themes. There are sociological and political themes. In the Gita Krishna claims to be giving universal knowledge and the Bhagavatam elaborates on this universal knowledge. 

Compare the nature of cities pre-industrial and post-industrial.  Study just the structure of the traffic flow of cities all around the world before the invention of automobiles. Before the car,  the basic structure of traffic flows of cities in Europe and India was what they would call the hub and spokes. There was the city centre and then you had the spokes coming out. If you look at cities which were designed or planned after the invention of the automobile, there's no longer the hub and spokes which was good for horse carts, but not a lot of cars. Rather you have a grid like Manhattan. The mundane or agnostic or atheistic view of the structure of knowledge is that it's a grid, in the sense that there are simply different kinds of knowledge. If you look at Manhattan as a whole or look at a city which is built as a grid - you could say this is the centre, but it's really just a grid. They’re just different points on the grid. Whereas in the older model where you have the hub and spokes there is a definite centre and everything flows from and returns to that centre. That's the model of knowledge also in the natural world.

In other words, there was a time even in European history when there was no significant separation between religion and science. The idea being that we want knowledge, we want to understand everything and there are different methods to understand different branches of knowledge. It's just like a thermometer tells you temperature and a scale tells you weight. There are just different instruments. So whether you devote yourself to God and meditate on God or serve God or whether you conduct experiments in a laboratory, these are simply different instruments. These are different approaches for different kinds of knowledge. When you study something greater than yourself, you submit and receive knowledge. When you study something less than yourself, you control it. You perform a controlled experiment. So based on what it is you are trying to understand, you apply an appropriate research strategy. There was a time in which the world was whole and people simply studied physics and metaphysics. Aristotle has a book on physics and a book on Meta physics. Meta meaning in Greek beyond or after. What is beyond physics is Meta physics. This holistic approach to knowledge tended to prevail within Indo-European civilisation.

 If you look at pre-Christian Europe, pagan Europe, paganism by the way was very Vedic. Suffice it to say that there was a time when there was a sort of indo European civilisation in the world. If you look at pre-Christian Europe, it was very much like India today. Not in a sense that people were Hindus, but in a sense that there was an eclectic, liberal, tolerant approach to religion. There was a sense, which the Romans had by the way, that there are different channels to divine power, but there was one divine power, like the hub and spokes coming out. Then something happened, Europe changed its culture, civilization at a certain point collapsed, went into the Dark Ages  - a term coined by the Renaissance people – not us looking back on it. So the Renaissance was a rebirth of Indo-European culture.

 

 

There was something like indo Indo-European civilisation which then was dominated by a Middle Eastern approach to religion which tendered to be tribal and fanatical. Scholars recognised that religious freedom declined with the Christianization of Europe. Religious tolerance, religious freedom, all those things went way down. That was the effect. Just like in India and even in pagan Europe, you had a somewhat liberal, eclectic, tolerant view of religion.  The rebirth was the rebirth of the indo European civilisation. There was a backlash against the renaissance called the protestant reformation. Suffice it to say, it was the protestant reformation, people like Luther who declared, "We don't want science, we don't want Greco-roman philosophy." Luther had certain slogans like “sola fide” - only faith - not science, not knowledge, not philosophy, just faith, and “sola scritura” only scripture – which in that case was the Middle Eastern scripture.

 

 

This whole holistic approach to life was shattered and there was a divorce between science and religion. The divorce papers were filed by religion, not by science.  It was the North European Protestant movement that filed for divorce, and science actually won in terms of becoming the dominant narrative for society. If you want to go to any court in the land and present evidence, you have to align yourself with the dominant narrative in order to present evidence in a public university, in a public court. It is not the narrative of religion; it's the narrative of science. 

In presenting this original Vedic culture, we are actually trying to make civilization whole again. There is a sense in which Prabhupada bringing Krishna Consciousness to the West was the culmination of the Renaissance. It was the full rebirth of that ancient civilisation. In historical terms, Prabhupada's coming was of monumental significance. Other people came from India also and you could say that was part of the process. Prabhupada is presenting what we are convinced is the real Vedanta. It is actually the highest point of knowledge. It is the supreme conclusion of Indo-European civilization, which is Krsna.  In fact Krsna says Himself in the Bhagavad-gita, vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo, “By all the Vedas or simply by all the knowledge I alone am ultimately to be known.’’

Prabhupada gave certain arguments in favour of Krishna Consciousness which can also be used against us if we don't perform. For example, Prabhupada always pointed to the good character of his disciples. They were following certain principles.  What happens if we find another group of people who are in some ways stricter than ourselves? Does Prabhupada's argument then favour them instead of us? The idea that making spiritual advancement as we know means that one will develop good qualities, godly qualities. The point is though, that we must not become an arrogant cast. If you think about it, power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

(This is not an accusation directed at this community. It is an example I always give to show that Iskcon is working.) We admit we are conditioned souls. We are conditioned souls still, making progress. We have the most wonderful process for making progress. In the mind of the conditioned soul, knowing that I am the carrier or I am the vehicle or I am in a sense the owner of the highest knowledge.

Because of various socio-historical factors, ISKCON in its earlier days went to great lengths to differentiate itself. We had to dress so exotically so that we couldn't possibly be confused with humanity in general.  This sense of being a type of master ethnicity, you can see there are tremendous opportunities here for pride. If someone is inclined to be proud, there are extraordinary opportunities here. Historically this has always been the tension in religious movements, in monastic traditions, in East and West. Name your religion, you will find it. In traditional societies the two groups that generally wield the greatest influence are the political class, who are famously corrupt and disgusting, and the religious class. These two groups have the most power and are the two positions that most lend themselves to hypocrisy and corruption. You then have issues like, ideally there is a spiritual hierarchy. There is a hierarchy of levels of consciousness so that some people are in higher states of consciousness and hopefully if they are kind, they teach other people, to bring them up to that same state of consciousness. As any spiritual religious movement is successful, there is much to manage, there is administration. What happens if the administrative hierarchy does not coincide with the spiritual hierarchy? Then what happens? And extend that over a 100 or 200 years.

Ultimately what we have to hang on to is Krishna Consciousness. Having spent a week in a place where I saw many things in terms of human activities like cleaning and treating guests, I saw many things that I felt were superior to those same activities other places I've gone to in ISKCON. Then there are the verses in the scriptures that say even if a devotee of the Lord is lacking certain qualities, you should still not belittle that person or not minimize the extraordinary value and importance of attaching yourself to Krsna. That, however, can become an automatic justification. It can actually lead to a type of apathy: “I don't have to worry about all those things, because I do chant Hare Krsna and I will gradually become Krishna Consciousness and  manifest all the godly qualities in due time. And therefore, no, I am not going to clean my room.“

Prabhupada said that devotional service is a razor’s edge. That does not simply refer to gross deviations like breaking the regulative principles or a serious philosophical deviation. There are all kinds of subtle creeping impurities that can disguise themselves as faith. For example, “The reason I am so proud is because I really have faith that this is the greatest thing. That's why I am so unpleasant to be around with.”  This spiritual science of Krishna Consciousness -  it is a very sophisticated spiritual science.

The Bhagavatam, even from the point of view of mundane scholars, is considered to be perhaps the most sophisticated Sanskrit literature in terms of its literary style, in terms of the grammar in it and the theological sophistication. Even Europeans when they came to India and gradually gained certain power over India politically began to translate Sanskrit literature. The Bhagavatam was one of the main things they translated. There we more European translations of the Bhagavatam than all the other Puranas put together. Why? There are dozens and dozens of times more commentaries within the Vedic tradition of the Bhagavatam than all the Puranas put together.  People in India and Westerners recognize the Bhagavatam as an extraordinary literature that was actually on a different level, literally, theologically, philosophically and linguistically. It just was in a class by itself.

The beauty of Krishna Consciousness is that it is so simple, you can simply chant Hare Krsna. However, when you chant Hare Krsna, there is a danger that you may become purified. As we become purified, all kinds of old desires are becoming dislodged and have to be processed another way out and we are experiencing new spiritual realizations which can lead us to become proud. The process itself of purification has many challenges, trying to find your way out of illusion, and Krsna Himself says, daivi hy esa guna mayi, mama maya duratyaya, ‘This divine illusory  energy of Mine is duratyaya. Dur – hard. Atyaya – to go beyond.  Ati means beyond. Aya means gone. It is hard to go beyond. mam eva ye prapadyante -  those who literally approach - we translate as surrender. pad in sanskrit means to go and from that root we have the word pada - foot - the foot goes. And prapad means to go forth. prapadyante literally means to approach, to go towards. Krsna does not say in the Gita, "Those who approach Me can cross over it." There is another word, eva, which means alone. mam eva ye prapadyante - those who approach only Me. Mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te - they cross over this maya. If we also have faith in other things, if we think something else will save us, or philosophically we edge our Krsna bet with other meta physical possibilities, then we actually void our warranty. If you buy some electronic devices and open the box, you void the warranty. So Krsna says, mam eva ye prapadyante, those who approach Me alone, mayam etam - this maya,  taranti te - they cross over.

There is another distinction which is between what I call psychological and philosophical atheism. One may be a philosophical theist. Our philosophy may be that there is a God, but our psychology may be that I am self centred. Actually, Krsna, God, is the centre. If I am just emotionally, psychologically self centred - operate from a place where I'm sort of the centre of everything - that is psychological atheism, even though I am a philosophical theist. One way to understand this gap is the language of the Gita - jnana vijnana. In other words, jnana is my philosophical position; vijana is my existential, experiential psychological reality. In other words, how am I really seeing the world on a daily basis? There is a gap. This gap is a creative, productive tension. I have to close the gap. It's just like you are playing a musical instrument: We listen to or hear a performance of a very accomplished musician playing that music. Then we sit down and work on it and it doesn't sound exactly the same. It may be recognized as the same piece, but no more. So there's that gap between how the music really existed in the mind of the composer and how that music is brought fully to life by the skill of an accomplished musician and meanwhile back at the ranch there is me. By practising my musical instrument I have to close that gap. Or someone who is not well physically and they remember good health, so they want to close the gap. Recognizing where I'm at right now and where I have to go, that is the necessary condition to get somewhere. Like the Beatles said, "When you let it get under your skin, then you begin to make it better." I remember when I used to work a lot in Latin America, some Americans would come down and I would tell them, "Why don't you give grammar a chance. If you are going to work in a Spanish speaking country, why don't you get a grammar book and actually learn the language properly."  "No, I know the language." So they would speak somewhat crudely. I know I had to work with some devotees who actually didn't know how bad they sounded in Spanish or Portuguese. People were polite and didn't want to say anything and they were grateful with what they could get. They never closed that gap. They knew street Spanish or street Portuguese. They never closed the gap because they just didn’t realize what they sounded like. There are people who falsely think they're really good at their musical instruments and the rest of the world knows the truth.

Similarly there can be tragic consequences - for example you have a lump somewhere on your body and you think, "That's not important. I don't need to go to a doctor." The ability to self diagnose is one the most important abilities in bhakti yoga. Not only individually, but collectively.  As a society we have to be able to self diagnose and understand where we're at now, where we need to be and strive to close the gap. Otherwise, if we spend almost all our time thinking of the very unfortunate gap between ourselves and people less than ourselves who don't have this knowledge or practise... There are various gaps. If we focus on the gap between ourselves on a higher position and people who don't know about Krsna, that's the gap that really enlivens us because it appeals to our vanity. I don't mean to say that it's vanity to ever talk about these things. We should talk about them, but that really is like the tiger in our tank so to speak. That's really what turns us on. That's really what gets us excited - going over the gap between ourselves and people beneath us. We find it's offensive and treasonous to ever talk about the gap between where we are now and where we should be, either individually or collectively.  Then you can see obviously that the type of mundane psychology is twisting our lives.

I have a rational self interest in trying to help ISKCON, because I'm stuck in it. I can't rationally do anything else. Plus it's the best thing for the world. (This community here is actually an example which I always give of doing things in a good way.  I always give the example of this particular project. At the same time we can always do more. There are actually a few New Yorkers left who are not with us here. These are some of the points.) Having spent a week in another entity, it was very good. In some ways it was inspiring, in some ways it was reaffirming and in some ways it was embarrassing. But it was very good. It was all very healthy. Monopolies are famous for giving poor hungry sponsors service and even though there are thousands of other groups who are trying to beat us to the punch to save the world, still we can exist within an unfortunate consciousness where we think we have no competition. Why not lead by ourselves. We can actually get into that consciousness. I don't mean to say that it is all about competition and market shares, but there's something about competition in the real world that tends to help people improve their performance.  If you know that you are really competing, you tend to do better. You can see this for example in quantifiable athletics. How people in many modern sports made real improvement by more advanced techniques like steroids. 

Apart from that, if you look at track and field, like running, you see by this constant competition records are made to be broken. Even without performance enhancing drugs. There has to a balance in our understanding where on the one hand we should be convinced that Krsna is the greatest. Krsna really is the greatest. Prabhupada really is Krsna's greatest representative and therefore Prabhupada's mission really is the best thing for the world. We should be strongly convinced of those things and yet at the same time, we should realize the possibility of ourselves not representing Prabhupada adequately - and therefore the possibility that our presentation is not really sufficient, that we are under representing Prabhupada.

We have to recognise that no matter how good this is, we are actually competing. Not in the sense of defeating other organizations. In fact we are all working together, at least those who are sane. We understand that we should make love not war, that we should respect all living beings and that we should serve God. Krsna consciousness is what I call principal inclusiveness. History tends to move dialectally. This was pointed out by Hegel and then was sort of applied, in a somewhat disastrous way by his student, Karl Marx. To say that history moves dialectally is to say that .........Theses means this is the way the world is right now. That's the way things are going. Then there is an antithesis. Something arises in the world to oppose that, a contradiction. For example, America was on top of the world and then something arose which was reality. You can't just have an incredible continental pig out and be insufferably arrogant and think it will just go forever, just because you are somehow the chosen people. There's a thesis, there's an antithesis. Something happens historically which opposes the way things are. There's a tension. When the thesis and antithesis combine, you get the synthesis. This Greek syn, by the way, in sanskrit san -  like sankirtan the together thesis, the congregational thesis.

I introduced the point dialectal history. Now I will introduce one more factor which is a well known psychological disorder called post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. Post traumatic means after the trauma. It often happens with soldiers in combat. It's always in the news right now. Soldiers in combat, children or even adults experience something very traumatic like a violent crime or something. So post traumatic - after the trauma there is a stress disorder. It so shocked the nervous system that it becomes a stress disorder even after the trauma is over. Two of the main symptoms of this stress disorder are hyper vigilance, like a combat veteran hears a car backfire and ducks for cover,  and then withdrawal. For the same reason you are hyper vigilant, you don't want the trauma to occur again, so you withdraw from any kind of situation, like a relationship for example, which might again trigger that trauma. The point I want to end with this is that PTSD can occur even at a societal level. It can occur at a historical level. If you study the history of religion of Western civilisation, it is in many ways extremely traumatic. Imagine what it does to the human nervous system to see your neighbours burning alive. To see people being mutilated and murdered by thousands, violent wars. The trauma of living in constant fear that any of your neighbours or any one of the government thinks that you even have the wrong idea about something, that you can be tortured or killed (for that).

Suffice it to say that religious history of the West is a very bad set of facts. There are a lot of glorious things. There were many sincere devoted people. There were even many saints. There was a lot of good that was done, but mixed with all the good was an undeniable traumatic history. The result is among many educated people nowadays a type of societal, collective, historical post traumatic stress disorder in which they are hyper vigilant about religion. So that any claim which remotely sounds like a claim of superiority or a hierarchy, there is this hyper vigilance or withdrawal, like, "Oh no, you are taking us back to the crusades, back to the inquisitions. I don't want to go back to the Middle Ages." It's interesting how parents raise their children. Little babies are so extremely sensitive to the emotions of their parents snd when the parents fear certain things, they transmit this fear to their children. So you have this societal generationally transmitted hyper vigilance among many people in the West about religion.

Krishna Consciousness is the synthesis. Just as Krishna Consciousness is the perfection of the Renaissance, Krishna Consciousness is also the resolution, the synthesis of this great cultural war that has been going on frankly for the last five hundred years in Western civilisation, science and religion. And it is Krishna Consciousness which is the synthesis which can give the world Indo-European spirituality , which can give people Krsna. So the perfection of the Renaissance is actually Krishna Consciousness. To make the world whole again and to move beyond this societal, collective trauma about religion, which is still being reinforced by some very kooky people who even haunt the streets of America, basically telling everybody that all their sacred beliefs are evil. You almost suspect sometimes the only reason these people don’t burn people today is because they can't. It's illegal. If you really believe that because someone is preaching another religion, that all the people that heard and believed that message are going to go to hell forever, we would actually feel a moral obligation to kill that preacher. 

Because Krishna Consciousness is of such monumental historical importance, because the world desperately needs Krishna Consciousness to become whole again, it is so important that we really become models. I can honestly say that I have been a leader of some kind of Krishna Consciousness movement most of my life. When you are leader, naturally, you can almost subconsciously prefer situations and relationships where you get to be on top, where you are the leader, where you dominate other people. You can do this in the name of disciplining the ranks, in the name of maintaining Vedic culture, in the name of carrying out Krsna's will. We can mobilize all the most sacred, absolute arguments to justify what can ultimately turn out to be our own vanity. When I say leader, it does not simply mean some of the big titles in ISKCON. It can mean any simple devotee talking to someone in the checkout line at the store -  but I'm the devotee. The extent to which our power, the extent to which this philosophical superiority triggers our vanity and pride, to that extent we will not be transparent representatives of Prabhupada and Krsna.  At the same time we purify ourselves by preaching. That's my message. This is a wonderful community. You are doing so much good and I would just encourage you to let us all really dedicate ourselves to advance in Krishna Consciousness and spreading this movement. Why not from New York? New York should be the beacon. This is the chosen city, chosen by Prabhupada.

 

 

(Many thanks to Krsna Jivana dd for the transcription)