ISKCON One Family
By Deva Darshan Das
How often do we see during award ceremonies, people receiving their award and then thanking others for their help? All the time….
Success can be achieved through results and most of the time; it is possible through a single individual performance. Outstanding success is achieved through remarkable results and it is rarely, if ever, achieved by the individual alone. It happens through support, guidance, advice, willingness, corporation and commitment of others, beside the individual’s own contribution.
Srila Prabhupada said that this Krsna Consciousness movement will be written down in history for having saved the world. Now, there no way you can influence the great leaders of this world if your methods only bring results. It has to be outstanding results. In other words, our strength and success lie in team work and also within the depth of our commitment towards each other.
How much are we willing to share and execute knowledge and understanding in our life and how much are we willing to accommodate each others in our heart, demonstrate the effectiveness of our methods.
It’s not easy. Nowadays, many people find it hard to love their own family members, what to say of someone you’ve just met at the temple. But it’s possible. Srila Prabhupada demonstrated it by his own example.
One of the main reasons that divide us is our inability to understand and deal with conflicts in our community. The following are 20 tips; I believe, can help towards a sustainable growth of our spiritual family.
Make the 7 purposes of ISKCON your life and soul.
There is no better way to please Srila Prabhupada. The 7 purposes of ISKCON are platforms where our founder acarya has invested his integrity, true values, inner drive and agenda. When devotees work consistently with them, they earn Srila Prabhupada’s trust and confidence. The 7 purposes allow us to intimately connect ourselves with our founder acarya as well as the whole Guru Parampara. Sometimes, we feel that Srila Prabhupada’s strategies need innovation and we try to bring our own ideas in the front. Very often, we end up spinning our wheels in conflicting directions and lose momentum quickly. Serving spiritual goals can be tricky. Beside our own intelligence and creativity, we need mercy. The 7 purposes align our service attitude with Srila Prabhupada’s expectations. Imbibing them into our existence unite us as one family serving one goal.
Go the extra mile
Joining ISKCON means you cannot play safe anymore. If you have enough money, well settled, stable in your spiritual life and often travel abroad for vacation. Then at least once in your life, turn your holidays into a spiritual adventure. Get out of your comfort zone and skip this summer Japa retreat at fancy resorts. Choose a country where Krsna consciousness is struggling and fly away to bring your help and support .Break the barriers, be adventurous and reach out the heart of the local devotees. Inspire, enthuse and enliven them with your experience and get them back on their toes. Make yourself available and let Krsna use you as an instrument. A family means no one gets left out or forgotten.
Be your own financial partner
Getting a real job or honest source of income and depending on your own money will give you the freedom to create more projects. Try to avoid using temple funds as much as you can unless in extreme situation or big projects, where you have to depend on donations. Using your own means, expands preaching by creating more opportunities and engages more people to serve the community.
Turning your house into a home
A house is a building which gives shelter but not necessarily brings intimacy among its resident. A home is where love and affection dwell. It is a place you feel comfortable and can relate to. It is where you find peace, relief, safety, inspiration, respect, confidence and transformation. Srila Prabhupada wanted all his temples to become an environment where devotees can reveal their mind and heart safely, where visitors can feel they’ve come to the right place for happiness. Therefore, it is extremely important we work together to create such atmosphere.
Go back to square one
The road back to Godhead can be dangerous. We can stumble, slip and hurt ourselves. Who likes ‘falldown’?? Nobody… but sometimes it happens, especially when we become careless, proud, overconfident, insecure and disconnected with devotees, just to name a few…
Albert Einstein said, intellectuals solve problems but geniuses prevent them. It’s up to you which one you wanna team up with – but. if you are receiving intelligence from Krsna, then you can’t be an intellect but a genius.
No matter, how strong you might be, there will always be a moment in your life where you will find yourself in an overwhelming situation. And if you have been playing the hero or acting very austere and advanced, chances are, people might misunderstand you when they catch you on your soft-side.
The best way to keep you safe is to be genuine at all times. Don’t be afraid to rejoin Krsna consciousness every time you feel weak. Join a Bhakta program, remind yourself of the basic rules, take simple vows, leave behind your “senior devotee status “ or position for a little while. This is a great example to display humility and the correct attitude. It motivates other members in the community. It is not a disgrace but rather shows transparency and honesty which are pillars for a great family.
Stop blaming others
When problems arise within our community, it is often due to collective mistakes and accumulated offences by the local members. There’s so many mistakes happening openly but also behind closed door and devotees often forget that Krsna can witness every single action.
Despite the fact that it may appear to have happened due to someone’s mistake, yet, very often that person acts as an instrument in the hand of the lord to give a wakeup call to the community. Therefore, instead of only pointing at a single individual, devotees have to look closer to what message Krsna is trying to give the community. When we attach ourselves to each other, we will reap each others benefits but also will inherit each others enemies…
Developing a ‘Culture Commitment’ framework
This is a framework for positive Members-Leaders engagement to facilitate effective and meaningful interaction between the two groups. For example, recognizing each other’s contributions through projects towards the success of the community. One of the mistakes that temple leaders often do is losing contact with members of the congregation when they take on a Leadership post. The people create the leaders and if the Leaders are not recognized or given credit by the people, friction and misunderstanding takes place. Therefore such framework keeps a steady flow between the two groups.
Your rights Vs Your Offences
Unfortunately, in many places I found devotees very reluctant to get into serious discussions with others when they feel there’s something wrong. This is often due to fear of committing offences. As a result, they end up in frustration and adopt a culture of backstabbing due to resentment and dissatisfaction. Many of them thus prefer to leave.
To avoid such precarious situation, temple leaders need to train their locals into the art of communication. People need to know, at least, where they stand in each others life as a spiritual family. What is the best approach they need to take on to provide help and support and at the same time keeping a healthy family mood.
Keep Assertiveness on the front line
Assertiveness involves communication in a way that takes account of other people’s feelings. It means that one should communicate clearly, openly and non-defensively. In other words, learning the art to share a message or make your point out of humility. This is such an important aspect of building a spiritual community. For example, if a devotee keeps repeating the same mistake in his service. Instead of trying to correct him all the times, step into his service. Tell him…”we really love you but…this is not the right way and for the next few days, I will take over this service and you assist me..”…Togetherness is a very important to keep family united.
The weakest link
When certain departments are performing better than others in an organization, we call them pocket of excellence. It usually doesn’t have a good impact on the overall performance of an organization, unless they are leverage.
Although we are chanting the same mantras, reading the same books and following the same principles, we have an uneven performance throughout our network around the world. It could be due to many reasons but if we want to see ISKCON excel on a worldwide basis then I believe we need to work closer with each others and not afraid to step into others problems.
Sharing wisdom and ideas on a forum are great but going on site and making things happen is even better. My point is, I believe successful congregational leaders should make themselves more accessible to Leaders from struggling countries. We cannot only unite during the Mayapur festival or when we need to sign petitions to avoid temples closing down. I am not saying create a mess. Of course, there should be discipline and everything has to be done under the Local authority… but none of our temple deserves to be the weakest link…Shouldering each others during difficult times brings solace in the heart and enthuse close relationship.