Yesterday everything seemed so easy to me – just follow your guru and all the conflicts would immediately end. Theoretically it would go perfectly. We have guru parampara, Kṛṣṇ is controlling each and every one of us, our gurus represent Him even if they look as ordinary conditioned souls from time to time. More importantly, if we give up our egotistic desires and simply do what the guru says there will be no fighting at all. I mean, unless guru orders us to fight we wouldn’t start anything like this ourselves.
Practically, this is exactly what we do and look where it got us.
First of all, we never give up our egotism. Orders or no orders, we do whatever we want most of the time. At best we get guru’s permission. Frankly, I don’t see how it could be any other way – guru is not there to babysit us to death, most of our acharyas never maintained their order taking relationship with their gurus for long. Lord Caitanya saw Īśvara Puri only a couple of times in his life. Sanātana and the rest of the Goswāmīs got their instructions once and then spent almost a hundred years putting them into practice by themselves. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī started the entire Gauḍīya Maṭha movement after his guru had already left, Śrīla Prabhupāda met him no more than a dozen times and got initiation only three years before his departure. No orders were certainly given on how to organize ISKCON and how to organize sādhana bhakti for mlecchas.
It seems in our history there are no provisions for our gurus micromanaging their disciples, this means for most of our lives we have to make our own decisions and fight our own battles, so it’s unreasonable to expect our gurus sorting out our disagreements, and even if they do issue orders many would simply not follow them through.
Does it mean that guru paramparā doesn’t work? Of course not, it just doesn’t work as expected. Our, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava gurus spread spiritual knowledge first and foremost, they are not sent here to make our lives comfortable, make our marriages work or make thousands and thousands of devotees co-exist without any frictions.
Apart from that – the fact that our second and third generation devotees are given direct access to Prabhupāda’s instruction and given freedom to interpret them as independent thinkers only compounds the problem, it’s not the one and only cause.
This is another pet hate of mine – just because there were problems in New York temple once and Śrila Prabhupāda chastised devotees for not employing their intelligence does not give us an excuse to second guess every decision by our authorities. We cannot operate as independent thinkers, or whatever it’s called, and expect to make spiritual progress.
Anyway, even if we follow our gurus perfectly there’s still the fact that there are huge disagreements between Śrila Prabhupāda’s disciples themselves. We cannot fix them, it’s above our pay grade, we’d better not stick our noses into relationships between our seniors who should be treated as our own gurus.
So, how can we solve our problems then? Does it mean that my yesterday’s solution is useless? Yes and now.
Yes, it’s useless because it won’t stop our fights and it won’t resolve many of our conflicts, and no, it’s not useless, because it would force us to see the world in a different way.
If we make the orders of our guru our life and soul we will become transcendental to everything else. Disagreement between our gurus? Not our problem, no effect on our lives, not a reason for us to get involved or take it personally.
Disagreements with our god-brothers – no problem, we treat them with respect and we see how they only try to do their best in service to our guru. Disagreements with disciples of other gurus – no problem, not our business to correct them. Besides, our system is that truth flows only through Krishna. We are branches of Lord Caitanya’s tree and branches do not talk to each other, all communication goes through the trunk.
If we want to correct anyone we send a signal up the branch, Lord Caitanya receives it and takes action, or doesn’t, He knows better, our job stops at informing our authorities.
This sounds okay but there are many cases where we are entrusted by the authorities to sort this problems as our service. Some of us ARE managers and they have to make this kind of decisions. How can they do it without causing any friction? It’s impossible but the clue is that we should see ourselves as servants of our guru and so whatever we do in the course of such service is not OUR work, it’s the work of our guru performed through our bodies. As such we should not be attached to its results, if problems arise, not much we can do about that. Kṛṣṇa killed millions and millions of people at Kurukṣetra, some of them His greatest devotees, what’s an argument or two between such insignificant beings as ourselves? We can’t make this omelet without breaking any eggs, pardon m for such a gross metaphor.
This means problems will never go away, this is Kali Yuga, we can’t change it, it’s the nature of our times. The solution lies elsewhere – in our ability to transcend the material plane and develop purely spiritual consciousness regardless of our disagreements.
This means that we should separate conflicts that arise from material diversity from our spiritual practice. No matter what we do, no matter what decisions we have to make, we should always maintain trinad api su-nicena attitude. More often, we should remember that most of the problems do not require our intervention at all, it’s just something we volunteer because we foolishly think we are great problem solvers and possess unique spiritual insights. That has got to stop.
Or, and in case we wonder who among our seniors we should trust when we have to make choices – GBC, Śrila Prabhupāda was very clear about that