Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL

Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL
Sri Radha Govinda, Amsterdam NL (Personal Deities)

09 September 2008

Finally a True Christian Perspective

It’s not often that exponents of mainline religions attract my attention. Generally Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists pay some lip service to their teachings while as far as greed, lust and highway robbery is concerned, its business as usual.

I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the following article. So much so that I decided to reproduce it here in full. As usual your comments are welcome.

You can read the original article here

In an address to an Assembly of God Church in Alaska, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin suggested that church members pray “that our national leaders are sending [soldiers to Iraq] on a task that is from God, that’s what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God’s plan.”

It would be interesting to hear Palin explain her understanding of how God’s plans can possibly involve violations of His sacred commandments.

The commandment is simple: That shalt not murder. God did not provide exceptions to that prohibition, not even for agents of the CIA and the U.S. military.

Lest we forget: Neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States or threatened to do so. No matter how many contortions that Dick Cheney and George W. Bush have engaged in (e.g., WMDs, the war on terrorism, 9/11, spreading democracy, UN resolutions, and radical Islam), the simple truth remains: The U.S. government attacked Iraq, not the other way around.

Thus, we should never forget: In the Iraq War, the United States is the aggressor nation and Iraq is the defending nation. That means that no agent of the U.S. government had any moral right to kill even one single Iraqi, much less the million or so that have been killed.

Some people calculate the wrongful Iraqi deaths only in terms of civilian deaths. They have it wrong. Since the U.S. government had no right to invade Iraq, U.S. agents, including those in the CIA and the military, had no moral right to kill any Iraqi, including Iraqis who were defending against the wrongful invasion and occupation of their country.

The standard neo-con religious position is that whatever the U.S. government does overseas against foreigners is right and moral as a matter of law because the government is operating as an agent of God and simply fulfilling His plans.

The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children killed by the pre-invasion sanctions? A million Iraqis killed in the invasion? Well, you see, those killings can’t be murder because it was the U.S. government that did the sanctioning and invading. It would only be murder if, say, the Russian government committed those acts. Since it’s the U.S. government that killed all those people, it’s all good and moral because it must be all part of God’s plan.

Moreover, keep in mind that in the neo-con mindset the U.S. government and the American people are one and the same. Since everyone knows that the American people are kind, caring, and charitable, that means that everything the U.S. government does, including kidnapping, renditioning, torturing, and sexually abusing people, is all good and moral. It’s all part of God’s plan, you know.

This attitude, of course, is what distinguishes Christian libertarians from Christian neo-cons. Christian libertarians adhere strictly to God’s commandments, refusing to draw an exception for agents of the U.S. government. Unlike them, we hold that murder is murder, even when committed by agents of the U.S. government. Since the U.S. government had no right to invade Iraq, it had no right to kill any Iraqis, much less a million of them. The same principle holds true with respect to the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children killed by the pre-invasion sanctions. The same holds true for the murders, torture, and sex abuse committed by U.S. agents against Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison.

Christian libertarians, unlike Christian neo-cons, do not conflate the American citizenry with the U.S. government. As such, we are capable of recognizing immorality and wrongdoing committed by the U.S. government and we are unafraid to take a stand against it. Unlike the neo-cons, we don’t try to excuse away evil and immorality by claiming that they must be part of God’s plan.

Indeed, unlike the Christian neo-cons we Christian libertarians don’t view the government as an agent of God but instead as simply a bunch of ordinary people who use government force to satisfy their self-interests, including the ever-growing lust for more power and more money.

06 September 2008

An Answer for Satya dasa (When the Guru Falls)

A few days ago a devotee called Satya dasa published a heart rendering letter in the Sampradaya Sun (see here). His question was, "What happens to a disciple when the guru falls?". Having been a guru myself and having fallen from the strict standard I thought I owed him and the devotee community a sincere and truthful answer. So, here it is.

The answer is that your guru Harikesa dasa lied to you. He presented himself for what he wasn’t. He wasn’t a liberated soul. He did not have the power to take you to Krsna because he himself had not yet reached Krsna. What he should have told you is that although he had no power to take you directly to Krsna, he could take you to someone who could: Srila Prabhupada. He should have told you that Prabhupada, as your siksa guru, was the preeminent spiritual force in your life and that he, Harikesa, was simply acting as Prabhupada’s humble, insignificant and unqualified servant. If he had told you that, he would have told you the truth. Certainly he was and still is your diksha guru but not on the platform of a liberated soul and he had no right to accept the worship and position as if he was. Specifically he had no right to allow you to believe that lie. If Harikesa had been a truthful vaisnava, then you, knowing him as a soul still on the path to perfection, could have seen his falldown in the proper perspective and avoided much trauma, possibly including the loss of your family. Although Harikesa tried his best with what he had and this painful, negative experience will teach him and purify him more, the fact that he lied will be a big stumbling block for his future redemption. Why do I say that? Because his lies and the lies of others in his position have practically destroyed the pure force of Prabhupada’s movement. Those lies have alienated 95 percent of Prabhupada’s disciples and stolen their rightful inheritance. Thus, although there are no negatives in Krsna consciousness and although it is all a purifying, learning experience, still, “The bigger you lie the harder you fall.”

I too am a fallen guru and sannyasi. My fall disappointed and hurt many people and I suffered greatly because of it. In many ways I am still suffering the shame of it all. However, in my defense, I can attest to one fact that greatly attenuated that negative reaction: the fact that to each and every one of the 22 devotees I initiated I clearly stated in advance that I was not a liberated soul, that although I could not take them to Krsna, I could take them to Prabhupada. The proof of it is that I never ever accepted a pranam mantra, a guru puja or a Vyasa puja. I simply tried to be what Prabhupada ordered all his disciples to be after his departure: regular gurus. Unfortunately, the ISKCON hierarchy and the GBC body did not and still do not share that view.

In the writing above is an implicit challenge to my godbrothers in ISKCON, to the gurus and sannyasis and to the GBC: be real vaisnavas and put the truth before everything. Stop the spin, stop the denial. Be real. If you do that you will have the goodwill and service of the lost 95 percent and with it the goodwill of Srila Prabhupada. Now, what will it be? Your foolish, puerile and wholly insignificant pratistha or a united movement with the spiritual strength to change the world? My dear brothers, it is not too late: Yes We Can!

jadera pratistha sukarera bistha

Your precious prestige is no better than the excrement of a pig

(Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)