RK Mission (was Re: The story of my experiments with truth)

Greg Goode goode at DPW.COM
Wed Dec 3 17:46:01 CST 1997

At 02:28 PM 12/3/97 -0800, Vidyasankar Sundaresan wrote on the RK Mission:

>To the best of my knowledge, it continues to have quite a few learned
>monks in its midst. Even its recent administrative problems arose out of a
>wish to avoid undue government interference. And its popularity in the
>West may be declining, but that is because they make bhakti to Ramakrishna
>and Sarada Devi an important part of their teaching, and not many people
>can relate to that nowadays.

This hits the nail on the head!  I attended some services at two of the
centers, and although there were solid teachings, there were several things
that struck me and made me lose enthusiasm.  Some of these things were
experienced by a friend of mine, raised as a Christian, who had attended
one RK center 3 times a week for 15 years!!

1. They stressed bhakti yoga towards Ramakrishna and Sarada Devi, as you
point out, and the only texts they discussed were the Gita and the Gospel
of Ramakrishna.

2. They said that no one was ready for anything but karma and bhakti yoga,
although there were many people there interested in advaita and jnana yoga.
 They refused to say much about these, even though they always talked about
discrimination.  My friend finally said "I wanted WISDOM, but from what
they are teaching, I might as well have stayed in Christianity."  She
resorted to secretly reading Gurdjieff and Krishnamurti, and feeling guilty
about it.

3. There were private, secret pujas at one of the centers I went to.  Only
people raised as Hindus were invited, and I can tell you, many Americans
were bursting with desire to go (if they happened to hear about them), and
dared to express their interest to the swami.  He said they wouldn't be
able to relate to it.  Even my friend who had attended for 15 years wasn't
allowed to go.

An aside:

Can you imagine the fervor that a person raised as a Christian or Jew in
the U.S. has for an adopted religion that has nothing to do with their
traditional upbringing?  It's intense!  There are strong feelings of
devotion mixed with the freedom of having achieved adulthood and choosing a
form of spirituality on their own that feels right.  They also feel
emancipated from the guilt and emotional baggage that goes along with their
traditional religion.  Plus, from what I've known from other Americans who
turn to Hinduism (I see less of this with folks turning to Buddhism),
there's a very strong, deep feeling that they will discover the Secrets of
the Universe, the Secrets of All Being.  So they want to immerse themselves
in the all the  forms of worship and devotion.  Many of them are so eager
that they quickly adopt various forms of
quasi-Hinduism-as-they-understand-it -- buy lots of books, eat vegetarian
Indian food, die their clothes orange, make mala out of colorful plastic
beads, buy brass statues of all the gods, give themselves Indian names,
travel to India, etc.  They really WANT to get into Hinduism, and there's
not a lot of places to do it traditionally or (might I say?) correctly.


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