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21 April 2008 @ 08:30 am
God--Save Me From Your Followers  
Once, years ago, I got a letter from the mother of my children's Christian friends from down the road. Their friends had been allowed to come and play with mine one day, but then their parents noticed our odd names and realized that we were some of those strange Hare Krishnas who lived in the neighborhood. I use the term loosely as it was a rural area in California.

I recall the letter was lengthy, handwritten, and contained charming phrases like, "The blood of your children is on your head." The mother explained that she couldn't allow her children to visit lest we try to convert them to our brand of idolatry but that my children were welcome to visit any time.

"But," she said, "We will not hide the Truth from them." That's right, truth with the capital T.

She kindly assured us that she would be praying for our salvation.

I vented with my friends for a bit before I responded, not wanting to do so flippantly or in the heat of anger. My children would continue to be in school with hers, and I felt that it was important to be careful in how I handled this.

I started by affirming her right to believe and raise her children as her conscience dictates. I stated that I also was doing the same, and assured her that I did not feel it was my job or place to try to convert her children and that I had therefore made no effort to do so. Further, I said I did not discuss religion at all with her children and that they all simply played together outside.

I said that I took my children's spiritual welfare as seriously as she took hers, and that I was endeavoring to the best of my ability to make sure they had a solid foundation of values.

I indicated that with some regret, I could not send my children to her home to play because she had essentially indicated that she would try to tell them about her beliefs, and pointed out how confusing this would be. If she could not respect my rights as I had respected hers, then I could see no way that our children could play together outside of school.

I pointed out how Jesus Christ associated with all manner of people that the leaders of his day considered low class and not to be spoken to, and I suspected that he would not approve of her choice to judge us in the way that she was doing.

I thanked her for her offer to pray for us, indicated that I wished her well in her own spiritual life, and hoped that there were no hard feelings.

I encountered her numerous times during the years my children attended school alongside hers and we were always cordial. It is too bad we could not have talked openly about our beliefs because in my experience, once you get past the superficialities of cultural context, many religions have a great deal in common. One of the things that holds us back is this notion that we are "saved" while others are most decidedly not. If you saw someone on the brink of a precipace, you would try to pull them back. In our mind's eye, that is what we see if we hold to a view of damnation for unbelievers. Once I thought that way. I now believe in a loving Goddess (or God) who gives us many chances to turn to Her. I can relax and know that everyone else will make their own choices about matters of the spirit and eventually they will find a path that works for them--one that allows them to grow closer to their own vision of the Divine.

It is sad to encounter those who won't offer me the same benefit of the doubt. It's impossible to have any sort of deep friendship with someone who believes you are doomed by your spiritual choices--even trickier if you once shared the same path and you have taken another fork in the road.

How can you be friends with someone who thinks, essentially, that you're an idiot who never understood the philosophy that you lived by, deeply studied, and passionately believed in for fifteen years? I would like to think that it's possible but I am filled with foreboding and saddened that I am seen through such a lense. I can't share anything about my spiritual life with such a person (since it will not be respected) and what once drew us together now drives us apart. While I passionately support this old friend in following his path, he's said outright that he'd like to re-convert me back to his. I can't see how this can work.

I hope that I'm wrong and that we can find a way. I find that Aretha Franklin's song Respect is running through my mind.
 
 
 
danaewintersdanaewinters on April 21st, 2008 04:02 pm (UTC)
"The blood of your children is on your head"? Oh, SHE sounds like a real peach! I think you handled that as well as anyone could've possibly done. Too bad that the respect you paid to her own beliefs wasn't given in return.
Tapatitapati on April 22nd, 2008 09:23 am (UTC)
she was also so sickly sweet in person, LOL
(Anonymous) on April 22nd, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
this blog entry
The person does not even know his own scriptures. I'm not a Vaisnava, but he claims to be, and one type of Vaisnava might view GR like this:

Many of the people on GR are like gopis after Krsna left them: after giving their hearts, sacrificing everything, leaving their homes, families, good reputations, possibility for a happy future, goodwill of relatives, standing in society, Krsna then cheated them.

Gopis called Krsna, "Black Snake", "Cheater", "Bad Moral Character", "Womanizer".

Gopis even cursed Krsna. Lalita and Vishaka said: "You will have to be reborn as a sannyasi and never have sex. You will understand how Radhika feels and how much you hurt her. You will spend your days crying and crying like she did." Then this came true, when K was reborn as LC.

Yet even after all of this horrible behavior by him, gopis cannot stop thinking and talking about Krsna.

This is the mood I see in many of the people at GR.


If I was a Vaisnava, I'd say: let those people condemn Krsna, just like gopis did. Because here is what I learn about Krsna; Vishnu's past track record:

a) Once a prostitute went into a temple, opened up her wrapper of tambula, threw the wrapper on the ground inside of the temple [littering], and then spit out the remnants onto the temple wall when she was done chewing it [graffiti, vandalism].

Vishnu interpret littering, graffiti, and vandalism as "decorating the temple". It was the only pious activity the crack ho did in her entire life. Yet, when she died, she was liberated. This story from Garuda Purana.

b) One pukka brahmana dumped his brahminical wife and children for a prostitute. When Yamadutas were coming for him, he freaked and called for his child, "Narayana!" to save him. The man was liberated.

c) One prostitute and her lover were very horny and wanted a place to get it on. They found an old abandoned temple and brushed aside the twigs, tree branches, and fallen leaves so they could have sex.

Vishnu interpret this act as "cleansing the temple" and "fixing/ restoring an abandoned temple" and in the man's next life, he took birth as Prahlada Maharaja.

d) One very lusty man wanted to see his prostitute. He went out in a violent thunderstorm, had to cross the stream by using as corpse as a surfboard, had to scale the wall of the ho's house using a poisonous snake, which he mistook for a rope.

When he asked his ho why she did not answer the door, she said, "I am worshipping Hari, and if you put as much energy into that as you do into me, you would become a saint." This man then did become a saint, Bilvamangala das Thakur.



So if your friend was really a Vaisnava, he would know the qualities of Vishnu. Vishnu is very easily pleased and he just looks at the GOOD things we do.

The people that I have read about on GR, they have done so much more service to Vishnu than the above mentioned crack hos. So I have no doubt, that Vishnu reciprocate with them as generously as he did in all the above-mentioned instances.


Also, what of those who say bad things about Krsna? Here is an example of how there is precedent that even saintly devotees become fried with Krsna:

e) One day an old man half blind went to pick flowers for his Thakurji. He climbed the tree but aho! he fell out and broke his leg. Then a young boy laughed at him. So what did the old man do? He started yelling at his Thakurji [deity], that's what:

"I spend my entire life worshipping you! I never do one wrong thing! I never commit any sin! And for that, this is the thanks I get from you!

"But others, who spend their life in decadence, not following any of the Vedic injunctions, you give them health, wealth, and all opulences !

"Therefore, from this day, you are not getting anything from me except for one dry burned roti WITH NO SALT!!!"



These stories are all in the oral tradition of Vaisnavism. THIS IS IN THEIR OWN RELIGION!!!

Anyone who thinks that GR people who have sacrificed big time for Krsna, that they somehow need to be re-converted does not even know his or her own philosophy.

It seems as if you outgrew this person that you once idolized and put on a pedestal. He does not even know his own scriptures.

You don't need to post this if you think that is the wisest thing to do.

Tapatitapati on April 22nd, 2008 08:46 am (UTC)
Re: this blog entry
Such comments are now supposed to go here:

http://tapati.livejournal.com/343245.html

And the guest book at GR refers people to that link to read any comments if they wish to. Seemed like a good compromise to me. :)

In actual response, thanks for the content, but I suspect he would say that while Krsna may waive any offense to Himself, what about the offense to his devotees, especially "pure" ones like Srila Prabhupada? Our devotional creepers are destroyed by such, according to the philosophy, no?

I should remind him of the "no loss or diminution" verse. Or as Ek would say, no loss of ammunition! LOL
(Deleted comment)
(Anonymous) on April 22nd, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Re: this blog entry
Tapati,

I felt like I was just talking to you, that it why I did not put it on the GR section.

I feel no need to get on pedestal or soapbox. Just was sharing with you.

But if you have friends that you love and want to share it with them because you think it will increase: love, harmony, understanding, goodwill, and wisdom then I guess it's okay.

It was something that I wanted to tell you, that's all [I felt] that I was doing. Sometimes I feel better if I just tell one other person [whatever I am feeling] something. Like a priest's confessional, the Wicca version [smile].

Thanks.




Tapatitapati on April 22nd, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
Re: this blog entry
OH, ok, I just thought that GR folk would appreciate the support, if they choose to come over and look at comments. I'm leaving it up to them.

Let me know if you WANT a post unscreened or not, then. :)
(Screened comment)
Tapatitapati on April 23rd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC)
Re: please don't port it over to GR comments section
it's already removed---
(Anonymous) on April 23rd, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
aiswarya mood; chakras
Another analogy is that the one who feels that it is his/her duty to preach has an aiswarya mood, i.e. sees the Divinity as God, all must fall down before Him/Her, all must honor God's prophets and prophetesses, etc.

Versus the ones so fried on God after doing so much seva, sacrificing their life and all, are more in the mood where it becomes impossible to ever continue to see the Divine as God.
God becomes more like a relative you sit around and complain about [smile] for not doing his share in the family while we have been bustin' our butts.



You mentioned "offenses": some traditions in Hinduism do not have this idea of offenses to human beings [after all we are all imperfect]. Rather, lack of progress is viewed as the result of the individual cannot follow the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga: the restraints and observances.

To me this worldview makes alot more sense. The restraints are necessary for the kundalini to rise up the chakras. That is the only reason why the restraints are there. Therefore, the only person you are ever offending is yourself.

So for a person who has spent almost their entire life addicted to very strong and powerful drugs that destroy one's thinking powers

[i.e. used to be college prep material and now cannot even divide his/her writings into paragraphs; instead the work looks like the writings of Neal Cassady with the tone of Hunter S. Thompson, both notorious drug addicts]

his or her kundalini's rise has been hampered by his or her own actions.


When the kundalini rises, it gets to the anahata chakra of direct cognition, we develop penetrating insight and can become mentors, counsellors, and problem-solvers.
And that is only chakra four.
Fifth chakra of visuddha we feel divine love and see all other souls as on the path: brothers and sisters.

But in some traditions, their scriptural study does not include Patanjali's Yoga Sutras nor the Upanishads or Agamas. They are even forbidden to read any other yoga books or hear from any other teachers, even from their own lineage.

Those who read widely know that this is viewed by some as one of the symptoms of being in a cult: when you are not allowed to read widely in order to learn and grow.

If we cannot learn and grow, then all of our energy that would normally go into learning new things each day then must get recycled into remembering the past and then developing a pecking order of who figured prominently in the past in relationship to the person who has forbidden me to learn and grow.

At any rate that person will have a different view of reality that is for sure.

Bright blessings to you. All the best!