I reserve the right to be offended

There’s a letter now circulating on Facebook which speaks against a person who is apparantly writing offensive things both over emails and on Facebook. I do not link to this as I see it as hanging people out to dry.

Which is ironic considering that’s exactly what people think I’m doing in the case of PP. So I will therefore specify my intentions: I believe there is a difference between siddhantic debates, crimes and deviations. PP is challenged both when it comes to siddhanta and in terms of a crime. I haven’t publicized deviations and I so far have not allowed deviations and hanging people out on my blog.

I find that people in the sanga has a very black and white thinking, unable to see or accept nuances and distinctions. It’s one of the things I try to add to the conversation. It requires the ability to view multiple viewpoints at the same time and be able to navigate between them. It also means I have to see that not everything I say or do is positive, that I may create damage. I have to accept that I can make mistakes and will get corrected/resistance for it.

And I’m fine with it.

There is one word that is very infected in our faith – “offences”. Committing offences towards Vaishnavas has to be challenged, it has to be put down and the rightousness of the correct party has to be victorious. Apparantly this person is writing a lot of offensive things and therefore has to be vanquished. So how do we vanquish – yes, we publish very private details about that persons faults.

And we do not like to read such offensive materials – we reserve the right to not be offended, so we have to make a big deal out of it.

But you know what? We don’t have to react to every persons gibberish by being offended. We can just block it, decide to not give that person any more attention than what’s needed. Or we can quietly disagree on that persons page, over the privacy of emails or whatever. We don’t have to react by digging into that persons personality publicly. We can even disagree with that person publicly, but let’s just not dig into that persons personality. Let’s instead address what that person writes.

We should not be so easily offended. We can’t expect that our emails should only contain things we agree with and are pleasant. We can’t expect that our Facebook feed contains only non-controversial subject matters which requires nothing of us.

We need people that gives resistance, disagrees and brings forward unpleasant things. But we need to make distinctions between those who bring constructive feedback and those who only wants to sow conflicts and havoc in their wake.

And we need to do all that while maintaining our bhajan. If these things disturbs your bhajan – then shut it off for a while until your bhajan is stable enough to deal with it. But do not expect that people should stop offending you, just because you don’t like it. Learn to set up your boundaries instead.

5 thoughts on “I reserve the right to be offended

  1. I agree that the black and white thinking is problematic. That was also a big part of the problem with the Prabhupada Svarupa controversy. Also, unfortunately, it seems that when some are “hung out to dry” as you say, it taps into the worst part of us. The part that becomes happy or excited when others suffer or fall into a bad light. I think this tendency is subtle but I have certainly seen it in myself and sometimes in other conditioned souls. Then collectively we can become a social media lynch mob. Definitely better to try and detach somewhat, keep personalities out, use facts, tattva, vedic law and authorities and not our own lower nature. Not so easy sometimes. And if we cannot digest properly, as you said, better not to consume these things, at least for a while. Thanks Haridasi, for your insight as usual.

  2. People are confused about who is a Vaisnava. As a result they are confused about what is an offense towards a Vaisnava and what is Vaisnava aparadha. In an older version of Sri Slokamrtam-bindu (blue book), pre-Srila Gurudeva departure, Srila Gurudeva commented on the definition of Vaisnava, saying that a Vaisnava is one who has Sri Krsna in his heart. In other words, a pure soul, because Sri Krsna can only stay in a pure place. In the recent edition (green book, post Srila Gurudeva departure), Srila Gurudeva’s commentary has been removed by the editors. Nowadays in this age of Kali, any one who is initiated is considered a “Vaisnava”, a very watered down approach to the sacred position.

  3. Yes. This is important. A watered down approach. It is so difficult for a neo- neophyte. I have at times met devotees (even some preachers) only to be shocked by their behavior or by their seemingly caustic mood. But I thought, “they are my senoirs, I should not try to judge, I don’t know anything, let me keep my head down.” In some instances (not all) I ended up having really bad experiences with these individuals, some of which probably could have been avoided. So I see your point Malati didi.

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