Question: What is your relationship to ISKCON?
ISKCON is not a monolith. There are great sādhus in ISKCON, there are jerks in ISKCON, and there is everything in between. It’s not black and white. So how shall I answer a question about my relationship to it?
ISKCON is an idea, a social abstraction, a concept… a concept of community. But a community is not an entity to itself so much as it is a collection of individuals. I concern myself with my relationship with the actual individuals, not with their social abstractions into various groupings. My relationship with the great sādhus of ISKCON is that I remain in the shelter of their feet, striving to please them and experience their happiness with me. My relationship with the common, innocent ISKCON devotee is that some of them are my dear friends, whom I would give all my energy and time for, and who would do the same for me. Others are unknown to me. My relationship to them is nonexistent. Others approach me asking questions or whatever, to them my relationship is to work as hard as I can to serve their needs. My relationships with the belligerent or weird and dysfunctional is that they are also Brahman (rays of the supreme spirit) and also “sādhu” in some extended sense – and I should respect them as such. But for my own sanity and for their happiness as well, I should keep out of argument and therefore keep my distance from them in an unpretentious way – whenever at all possible, and whenever I don’t succumb to my instinctive reflexes to control and argue.
My relationship with the social abstractions of ISKCON is basically nil, especially since I live in Japan, where ISKCON is not prominent. Once or twice I visited ISKCON’s center in Tokyo, and experienced great friendship and devotional bliss there. I have no relationship with the managerial structure or government of ISKCON, (GBCs, Sannyasis, Temple Presidents, etc. etc.). I agree with some of their decisions, disagree with some, and really find no need to get involved in any positive or negative capacity.
I’m interested in relationships with great sādhus, dear friends, and sincere people – their social nationality (ISKCON or not, etc) really doesn’t make a difference to me.