What is ISKCON and Who is a Member

Document Sample
What is ISKCON and Who is a Member Powered By Docstoc
					What is ISKCON
      and
Who is a Member
This presentation is meant to generate discussion on
what is:



  1. The Hare Kåñëa Movement
  2. ISKCON
  3. A member of ISKCON


My emphasis will be in Points 2 & 3
What is the difference between the Hare Kåñëa
Movement and ISKCON?

  •   The Hare Kåñëa Movement is the religion of
      those who worship Kåñëa—or try to—according to
      the teachings of Çréla Prabhupäda.

  •   ISKCON is the society of devotees within the HKM
      who live by the rights and obligations accorded to
      a member.
The Hare Kåñëa Movement
       – believers




  ISKCON – members
International Society for Kåñëa Consciousness



I will answer the 2 questions posed in the title by;

   •   Studying the key word ―Society‖

   •   Then integrating the terms, ―International‖ and
       ―Kåñëa consciousness.‖
What is a Society?


Dictionary:
      ―A community of people living in a particular
      country or region and having shared customs,
      laws and organizations.‖ (Oxford)
What is a Society?


Based on this definition let’s define ISKCON:
     A global community of people having shared
     customs, laws and organizations that are based
     upon the principles of Kåñëa consciousness.

                        Here the key word is:
                         ―shared‖
                        which means
                        ―common‖
What is a Society?


A society is comprised of people who have ―shared‖
or ―common‖ values.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


Take the country of France as an example of a
society with members.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


What do French people have in common?
     • A constitution
     • Laws
     • Language
     • Education
     • Taxation
What is a Society? Who are Members?


IOW: French people have in common: primary rights
and obligations.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


What do French people have that is not common to
all, but is individual?
       • Faith

       • Ethnicity

       • Dress

       • Profession

       • Opinions
What is a Society? Who are Members?


IOW: What French people do not have to have in
common are individual rights and obligations.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


Summarizing that which is common and not common:
    • France is made of people with individual rights
      and obligations that do not conflict with the
      common rights and obligations.
    • A French citizen is an individual who accepts
      the obligatory common rights and obligations
      of the French Republic.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


The key words in establishing a Society and its
members are:
     ―rights‖ and ―obligations‖
What is a Society? Who are Members?


Applying the above principles (France/Frenchmen) in
the context of ISKCON:
      • ISKCON is a global community of devotees
        with individual rights and obligations, which do
        not conflict with the obligatory rights and
        obligations common to all its members
      • A member of ISKCON is a devotee who
        accepts the rights and obligations common to
        all other members.
What is a Society? Who are Members?


How are rights and obligations of ISKCON's members
determined?

By the GBC in the form of:
      • Constitution and
      • Laws
Again the rule of thumb


Those who fulfill the obligations established by
ISKCON’s constitution and laws enjoy the rights
bestowed by the Society. These are members.
Conversely


Those who do not fulfill the obligations in ISKCON’s
constitution and laws do not enjoy the rights
bestowed by the Society. They are not members.
Take some examples of members'
obligations


•   GBC is their ultimate managerial and spiritual
    authority
•   They must be connected to ISKCON’s line of
    authority
•   They accept initiation only from member of ISKCON
    (Chant 16 rds and follow 4 regs)
•   They do not divorce
...con't examples members' obligations


•   They give 10% of income to the Society
•   Subject to the disciplinary and judicial system of
    ISKCON
•   Summary: The laws and bylaws of ISKCON
    determine devotees’ values and conduct in all
    aspects of their lives: work (varëa), social status
    (äçrama), spiritual practice and spiritual aspiration.
Now! Some examples of members' rights


•   Officially accepted as connected to Çréla
    Prabhupäda, in the parämparä and Gauòéya
    Sampradäya.
•   Reside, serve or be employed in temples, farms etc
    and also engage in leadership positions from Nama-
    hatta leader to GBC secretary.
•   Can perform ceremonies and worship for members
    and in temples (give class, worship deities, become
    dékñä/çikñä guru, do saàskäras etc)
...con't, examples members' rights


•   Enjoy saàskäras offered by Society (birth, marriage,
    initiation, sannyäsa etc)
•   Be part of ISKCON initiatives eg: Chamber of
    commerce, Mäyäpura residence,
    gurukula/education, co-operatives etc.
•   Summary: Members enjoy benefits of membership
    only on the basis of having accepted the obligations
    that comes along it, membership.
Result


An ISKCON and a membership into ISKCON that are
easily and clearly identified by objective criteria based
on Çréla Prabhupäda’s teachings and our scriptures,
Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Bhagavad-gétä etc.
What about?


•   Devotees who follow Prabhupäda and Kåñëa but
    not laws of ISKCON?
•   What about patron members, life members and so
    on?
•   What about new devotees who have not fully
    embraced our principles, don’t chant 16 or follow 4?
•   What about watching TV, playing football, going to
    movies, breaking principles etc …
•   What about devotees gave youth, did saëkértana,
    think themselves members—but don’t accept
    obligations?
They are:


•   Devotees who cannot or will not accept the
    obligations required of ISKCON membership cannot
    expect the rights of a member
•   But they are members of the Hare Kåñëa
    Movement.
The Hare Kåñëa Movement
       – believers




  ISKCON – members
Road map for Varëäçrama


Since the definition membership standardizes
devotees’ lives according to spiritual principles the
society thus formed is the most basic and practical
embodiment of the Varëäçrama Çréla Prabhupäda
envisaged.
Some Questions

 • Is ISKCON a Faith or a Religious Society?
 • How do we clarify the different kinds of
    ―members‖ of ISKCON
 • Do we expect our members to ―accept‖ our laws
    or to ―follow‖ them?
 • How seriously do we take and enforce our
    own beliefs among the Society’s members?