Trending toward the mundane

This posting at the Sampradaya Sun pretty much sums up the institutional direction of ISKCON:

Indeed, instead of embracing and propagating the sublime yuga-dharma of our fallen epoch, modern ISKCON has turned to a never-ending list of “personal growth” seminars, hatha yoga sessions, hospital & school building, vegetarian cooking classes, henna tattooing, traditional Indian dances and food charities – all in a vain attempt to gain the admiration of the (already) deluded and misguided general public.

This is not to say that all genuinely spiritual activities have ceased. But watering down is indeed there. Karma-mishra bhakti is on the rise in ISKCON, and this is coming from the top-down.

Why is all this happening? In a word, bad association. It’s not that the devotees leading us down this path are unaware of what the conclusions of our sampradaya are, or what Srila Prabhupada has said at length about mundane welfare work. And to be sure, they did not wake up one day and say, “We’ll we’re not into this pure devotional service stuff anymore, we’re going to do mixed bhakti now…” But as devotees at the higher levels of our society have made more friends outside of the movement with non-devotees, they have taken on some of their characteristics, including their beliefs and values. That’s what bad association does–it conditions you to prefer things that are spiritually bad for you. Therefore, mahat sevam dvaram ahur vimuktes, tamo dvaram yoshita sangi sangam.

A related problem is that for lack of coming to a sufficiently high standard of devotion, many devotees continue to be attracted by their previous conditioning. Lord Krishna says, “Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life” (BG 16.19). If one is still attracted by the glitter of mundane social prestige and material gain, that is indicative of one’s lingering demoniac nature.

So, what to do?

An antidote for those of us on the lower stages of yoga is to become more renounced. Practically, this means organizing our society around the principle of minimizing pumsah striyah mithuni bhavam etam, the attraction between male and female. Indeed, if you look at the trend toward the mundane in our society, it is inextricably linked with the impersonal idea of overemphasizing the sameness between male and female–the equal rights of Women ever so popular among Westerners and Western-educated peoples. And it is no surprise that the West’s problems stem from this denial of difference between the sexes. Society organized around reducing sex attraction, as its primary goal, will go far to reduce the strength of demonic association and help devotees make rapid advancement in Krishna consciousness.

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