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The importance of ISKCON Prison ministry —a firsthand account of how it changed my life

Back in 2007, an inmate devotee [who wants to remain anonymous] slipped a Back to Godhead magazine underneath my cell door. That started my journey in Krishna consciousness. Saying ISKCON Prison Ministry (IPM) changed my life would be an understatement. IPM has transformed me, providing an understanding of life, Truth, and bliss I never thought possible.

LIBERATED PRISONER

I grew up in a small county in Southern Tennessee, near Memphis called Atoka. In our home there were pretty much no rules. Since I can remember my mother was very ill; she had congestive heart failure and I remember the day the doctor told her that she had kidney failure and would need to start dialysis. I remember it being really rough on her. She took a lot of prescription pills, Xanax, pain pills and smoked weed daily. I remember sneaking into her purse and stealing pain pills and Xanax by the time I was fourteen or so.

my viral cure

(edit 7-11: more on monolaurin with refs)

Since spring I keep spreading my long-term successfull prevention-cure of viral infections:

At the first symptoms of an infection I take 1-2 tsp of coconut fat.
This much is enough to stop it. Its active ingredient is Monolaurin (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monolaurin). It doesn't work as a prevention though. When I missed the onset of the infection last year, I used 2 tsp 3x per day and was ok after about 3 days.
Keeping my body pH up (i.e. making it an environment uncomfortable to

the jiva issue: sastra pramana

This was one of the main contentions discussed in ISKCON since 90's.
Srila Prabhupada states that the jiva was originally in the association of Sri Krsna, taking part in His lila.

It's difficult to conceive why would she leave the perfect situation and enter the world of suffering. Some Gaudiya Vaisnavas therefore gave an answer that the jiva was never with the Lord. This view was rejected by the GBC in its resolution 79/1995.

But with the lack of clear sastra pramana (the central pramana as per CC 2.20.352 p.) there was no philosophical conclusion.

What king Parikshit did after being cursed?

There are two different accounts - in SB and Mbh (see below). (The question was brought up in https://iskcondesiretree.com/forum/topics/what-king-parikshit-did-after-...
but the answer wasn't given.)

This type of variant accounts in different sastras is usually attributed to the so-called kalpa-bheda, lila differences in various cosmic time cycles.

MBh Adi Parva, Hridayananda das Goswami edition:

Srila Suta Goswami said:
That ascetic sage of noble vows gave the message to a disciple, and, his

rape consent?

This is possibly the most favorite 'tough one', last year discussed at
https://iskcondesiretree.com/forum/topics/prabhupada-consent-to-rape

There is a survey related to this at
https://www.akincana.net/2018/07/12/pre-test-of-survey-for-sb-4-25-41-co...
and also the link to ongoing results. There, under Q4, see the answer dated 8/25/2018 9:44 PM quoting Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura's commentary and Kama sutra.

'tough ones' continued

Some years ago BBT put up a section on its website called 'Tough ones' dealing with controversial topics in SP books by some of his disciples. This section was later taken down for reasons unexplained but it can be seen in archive.org:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160203214811/http://bbt.info/information/t...

I thought that it shouldn't disappear but on the contrary, be expanded. So I'll post some answers to issues in this 'tough' category. Feel free to provide some feedback.

Inmate Letter Excerpts

I was convicted and sentenced to ‘life plus 60 years in prison! I never stopped chanting the entire time I was there, I was strong in Kṛṣṇa Consciousness up until I heard them say ‘guilty’ and sentence me, then my entire mind, thoughts, actions ‘FROZE UP.’ Although I knew that the ENTIRE trial process was UNLAWFUL. I couldn’t chant, eat, or sleep for days. It took some Christian guy to remind me of the story of Job in the Bible to bring me back to reality. I accept Kṛṣṇa as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but you know, a lot of people see me chanting etc.

THE DUALITY OF SLEEP AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO HAVING MORE OR LESS TIME

I have been a late bloomer my whole life, and yet time sometimes comes to my aid to teach me lessons that only are understood years later. A 19 ½ as a young brahmacari, we learned that “sleep was death” and was a waste of time, so if Prabhupada recommended 6 hours for those in the mood of goodness, then surely we should lessen that.

Thus, we experimented pushing the envelope back to 5½ to 5 hours etc. For a while, when I was a pujari in the old San Francisco, Valentia Street, temple, in the early 70’s, I was doing 4 hours a night, going to bed at around 11 and rising in time to wake the Deities at 3:30 a.m.

Somehow, I functioned, though I was always nodding out, since I thought taking rest during the day was “maya.” Sitting for chanting japa or class, or cleaning the Deity room floor, meant I would be in and out of sleeping, except when taking prasad. I used to chant my rounds on the roof of the building next door which we rented for storage and parking, and I am amazed I didn’t fall off, since I used to pace on the concrete border edge! Krishna protected me then and so many times in my life!

LOCKED DOWN, OR UP, OR WITHIN, IN EXILE IN VRINDAVANA BY GRACE:

The irony doesn’t escape me
that I couldn’t leave Vrindavana
even if I wanted to. I ponder my life.

So many devotees want to visit
and here I’m on an extended stay
first for 11 months and now 5 more.

I know it is special mercy for me
yet, it is the toughest love ever
though I can still smile at my plight.

I am externally “in” Vrindavana
though far from eternal lila here
and the self-forgetfulness of love.

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