I had written the below article. Was curious on your thoughts:
The Hijacking of ISKCON Flight 1008
Jul 11, 2010 — USA (SUN) — If culture is the truck that gains momentum unopposed by dissidence, then hierarchy is the engine whose potential force seeks to crush individuals who can't live with its ideals. ISKCON is no exception. And every day we hear bumps as the truck named ISKCON rides over those who can't agree with its culture.
The truck of Hare Krishna culture gained such momentum as a movement in the 60's and 70's it exploded into a rumbling force that resembled a jumbo jet. Under the guide of that master pilot, Srila Prabhupada, it zoomed towards the sky, heading straight above the sun for the transcendental effulgence of Goloka Vrindavan. The problem came when the master pilot was replaced by his many career minded co-pilots.
After the departure of the master pilot, the co-pilots wrangled and fought over the direction of the jet plane. The "original flight path" was debated over and drawn and re-drawn. As the jumbo jet named ISKCON bumped up and down and veered left and right like United Airlines Flight 93, hijacked on September 11, many people decided to parachute out of the jumbo jet rather than suffer from indigestion, heart burn and panic attacks. For a while, the jumbo jet seemed to benefit from having less weight to carry. The lighter the airplane, the less resistance to direct it any which way the co-pilots desired. In fact, truth be told, the hijacking co-pilots seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when another disruptive and rebellious passenger would parachute out rather than remain in the movement. There was only one problem. After a while, there seemed to be more "potential co-pilots" than passengers who were willing to remain in the ISKCON jumbo jet as hostages.
These days the jumbo jet named ISKCON is seeking some moderation. The co-pilots are trying to find a compromise between balancing their partisan political ambitions with the need to not be a laughing stock from flying an empty airplane.
In trying to keep the ISKCON jumbo jet flying, the co-pilots have shown their openness and willingness to learn from anyone and everyone. Today, the co-pilots in charge of ISKCON are studying the management philosophy of other pilots, drivers of cars, captains of ships, peddlers of rickshaws and riders of baby strollers. If someone will teach them how to drive a vessel resembling ISKCON, they claim to be willing to listen.
Today, ISKCON is trying to strike a balance between flying the "original flightpath" as drawn by the master pilot, Srila Prabhupada, while trying to have an airplane service that will attract new passengers. It is a tough balance. On one hand, Srila Prabhupada was very specific about what kind of a "flight service" he founded. On the other hand, the more the airline's image keeps altering to accommodate the dictates of popular culture, it could be acceptable to yet another demographic—a whole new market of potential passengers. Without enough passengers, there is no flight service, no jumbo jet, no ISKCON. On the other hand, without following Srila Prabhupada's instructions, it is hard to justify putting the logo and letters "ISKCON" on the transcendental airline's tail, without it appearing to be a hijacking. It is a precarious balance that ISKCON's co-pilots are trying to keep.
There was a time when ISKCON sought to be the ideal of what a transcendental airline service should be. It had sought to redefine the airline industry by being a model airline. But since then, the jumbo jet named ISKCON has run into management problems. The airline industry as a whole, religion, has taken a major hit in profits.
ISKCON in the beginning of its career was in many ways like our own President Obama, who shouted "change, new change, brand new radical change" and got a whole momentum going… only to abandon the rhetoric when Obama's soaring political flight wings hit the resistance of reality. There is nothing surprising about this. This is the maturing process for both new religious institutions and new politicians. It is not an accident why old politicians and old religions all seem to look alike as they become moderate to appeal to a larger demographic, while trying to retain their unique ideological stance.
In the short run it is very tempting to alter ISKCON by bits and pieces. Christianity did it. And those who criticize this change must remember that there are many religions who did not adapt to their times that did not survive for us to know its religious lore.
But I also can empathize with the fear of the fundamentalists in ISKCON, who have seen other religious denominations change shape like silly putty to the dictates of the market. What these religious movements have become are a joke when you consider what they are today in light of the principles of the original founder of the religion.
All this to say that ISKCON needs to find its identity in the marketplace of religions. It needs to draw parallels with other religious movements and find out its unique course that it wishes to chart. It needs to consciously choose how it wishes to model its image to ally itself with those that have common interests with ISKCON. It simultaneously needs to differentiate itself from its competitors. It needs to do all the above while fearing getting lost by veering too far from the "original flight path" as charted by the master pilot, Srila Prabhupada.
Are ISKCON's co-pilots ready for the challenge of flying in the stormy weathers of today? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I wouldn't unloosen your seatbelt just yet, until the co-pilots switch the seatbelt sign near the lavatory to ‘off.' That might be a while.