Heads up on my Kartika plans
25th of August, 2007 - 11:26
For those of you planning to come to Vraja on Kartika, if your plans involve anything concerning me, then please take a moment to read this through.
Natural progress
2nd of August, 2007 - 11:54
Reflections on natural progress in devotional life and on paradigms of the past that haunt us, self-imposed hang-ups stifling the evolution and growth of our spirit.

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Natural progress
Posted: 2nd of August, 2007 - 11:54
From correspondence, some related reflections on the ISKCON paradigm theme, mentioned in a recent blog entry, that many, if not most of us still struggle with on one level or another.

As for harinama-sankirtana, there are people who are more introvert about their religion, and that is perfectly all right, regardless of how people undoubtedly have made you feel in the past during your years in ISKCON. You do not gain anything by going against your nature in external displays of religion, or preaching if you will — giving to others should be a natural extension of your self and your experiences, if it is to take place at all. If that is not there, it will neither benefit you nor anyone else, except in a very marginal capacity.

The experience people have of Gaudiya Vaisnavism from their encounters in the West with ISKCON and Gaudiya Matha are quite remote from the experience of Gaudiya Vaisnavism one will have in its native environment and in its more traditional format. These missionary movements share neither the spirit nor many of the practices of the older tradition. I often compare the two to a monastery and a village. The mood and social dynamics in the two are quite radically different, even if an inevitable change of paradigm seems to be taking place there, as well. It is only so much that a movement can grow without developing a healthy social environment.

The concepts of "strictly following principles" and "of a low standard" are rather integrally ingrained in the age-old ISKCON paradigm where everyone is more or less expected to be of the same standard and conform to the same set of principles. In reality, that "one golden standard" will be too low for some, and again too high for others.

Each individual needs an individually adjusted sadhana that matches his or her own comfort level. I cannot count how many times my guruji has responded to my questions about quantity and shape of sadhana with "do what works for you, what comes naturally". As much taste as you have, that much you will naturally be inclined to do, and forcing yourself to a great excess of that is neither beneficial nor lasting — even if slight periodical pushes are healthy to prevent stagnation.

Prema is the standard, and we all fall short of that — and there is nothing wrong or surprising in that. This is a gradual path from here — wherever that may be, and god knows it may be far and deep! — to that summit of divine love. It is not a "be you a pure devotee or else" social club. Progress naturally, progress at your own pace.
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