10.01.2013

let's clear some things up: an open (kind-of) letter to kevin mccafferty.

two nights ago I received this comment from Kevin McCafferty in response to my support of the Philadelphia ISKCON temple's decision to change the time of their Sunday services:
note: this is a direct quote, with grammar errors included. I took a screenshot of the comment and don't want to stray from it at all, lest I be accused of misquoting...

"No offense K mala but dont you live in northe jersey? Have you ever considered yourself a member of the Philadelphia congregation? Just curious. Plus didnt you write a blog in which you stated that you no longer consider yourself a decotee[devotee],no longer chant,etc? I have no problem with that but i don't know why you would be putting your opinion here and encouraging the change if you dont even have any spiritual connection to the temple and its program. Do you now plan to come every sunday and actively participate in kirtan and bhajan? I am not judging or attacking you but some of us are upset by the change and if you dont plan to do any of those things than it is misleading to give your opinion here and give management a false sense of encouragment and support for change. Some of us feel like something that was important to us was ripped away and it is annoying to here people support it cause now they "might" come once in awhile. Haribol."

there is so much to say that I don't even know where to start.

first I should explain that I've only met Mr. McCafferty once that I remember. and actually I didn't even meet him - we sat next to each other, by chance, at a home program like maybe three or four years ago. after we sat next to each other (I should add that I'm not even sure if we exchanged in conversation) he requested me as a friend on facebook. I figured, sure, why not, and accepted the request. we were "friends" for a bit - though I noted that he often made (in my perception) inane comments on threads. after one particular (in my perception) ignorant remark related to gun-control I re-evaluated why I was even "friends" with him to begin with... so I decided to delete him from my list. honestly... we weren't even friends...like at all. after that and up until this past Sunday evening, I've not had any interaction with him, either in-person or on facebook.

maybe you remember that last year I wrote a blog post titled "honesty and the four regulative principles" wherein I discussed in a very transparent and open manner where I was "at" at that time. I went through each of the promises I made to my guru and basically confessed my sins (more or less). I was, and am still (as always!), struggling in my Krishna consciousness. I felt compelled, for whatever reason, to be real about it. no, wait, not for whatever reason - but for the most important reason: because honesty is important. because I'd rather people know who I am and where I am in my spiritual practices than be the person who hides behind a mask. and for all that I said, I can tell you that what I didn't say was that I don't consider myself a devotee. in fact, Mr. McCafferty, if you even read the blog post (or any, like this one, that followed) you would know that I said again and again how much I wanted to worship and serve guru and Krishna. and I questioned what it even means to "be a devotee" - a very valid question at that. but never, not once, did I say, "I'm not a devotee anymore, f' that, I'm outta here!"

as far as where I "belong" as a congregation member... I don't "belong" anywhere. I grew up in the Brooklyn temple with Sri Sri Radha Govindaji (though if Mr. McCafferty actually read my blog or knew me, he would know that), and will always and forever consider that my home. but I live quite far from there (an hour and a half AT LEAST on a good traffic day) and it's expensive to go into the city. oh - and their program is quite late (coughcough), so it's only very rare that I get to go... maybe once or twice a year. and since Mr. McCafferty is apparently a long-time-every-week-attender of the Philadelphia Sunday program, then he'll probably remember that from about late 2008 until mid-2010 (when gita was born), my family was there almost every Sunday. and I was in fact kind of hard to miss... since I was large and pregnant for a good portion of that time. my older daughter went to the Sunday school for that time. she was invited on multiple occasions to dance for different festivals (she has, in fact, danced for Philly Ratha Yatra for the past four years... oh, maybe Mr. McCafferty saw her there this past Saturday?!). we made donations. we chanted. we heard. hmm, I don't know if I was a "congregation" member, but I certainly felt like I belonged to some extent.

why did we stop going? mostly because I had my youngest daughter and she is not an easy child. she (at the time) didn't do well in large groups, and was (is) very sensitive to being hungry and tired. put all of that on top of the fact that my husband and I both work full-time jobs where we have to get up quite early in the morning on Mondays... well, you do the math. but yes, in the interim I've had some struggles - struggles that have been deep and dark and hard to climb over. but since when does one's qualifications (devotee or not devotee... congregation member or not) matter when it comes to worshiping and serving the vaisnavas, guru, and Krishna?!

and since Mr. McCafferty is wondering about what my attendance intends to be... well, that's none of his business really. but what I will say is this: I would love to go to the temple every single sunday. I actually really, really love the program set-up of the Philly temple - more than any other temple (even Brooklyn, sorry!)... they really know how to get down to business and stick to a schedule, which, for someone with kids and a job and a life, is so fantastic. will we be there every Sunday? doubtful. while I am very supportive of the time change, it's actually not really helping us so much at the moment. my older daughter is with her dad every-other-sunday, so she will only be able to come as such. and it kind of falls smack in the middle of gita's naptime. I also teach yoga on sunday mornings, and it's going to be a challenge to get to the program on time after that... but still, I can see the benefits in the long run for more people than not - and that is why I support it... not because it has anything to do with me personally... because, even while I have an intensely selfish heart, I know that it's not about me. it's about what's best for the greater population.

while I wish my mood towards Mr. McCafferty was more of a vanca kalpa one, I have to be honest... it's not. I found his comment to be mean-spirited, selfish, and judgmental. and to try to qualify a judgmental statement by saying "I'm not trying to be judgmental" is just lame. and what's even more lame is to end all that crap with "Haribol." I am sorry that this change is so disheartening and inconvenient for him - and I for others, as well. but to attack other people in the name of your own inconvenience is quite disgusting.

for a while I've wanted to write an update to the "honesty and the four regulative principles" post. while I still feel like I'm struggling every single minute of every single day, I feel like I've come a long, long way. but now, after writing all of that, I feel like I need to take a minute and breathe. maybe tomorrow.

and Mr. McCafferty... you can continue to go scratch as far as I'm concerned.

just for fun, Sri Sri Radha Murlidhara from the Bhakti Center... you know, the place Mr. McCafferty claims isn't a temple.