A Good Story in the Making
Coming back to this experience: as a new devotee I was overwhelmed to the point of tears and deep emotions when I stood among a crowd of worshippers to greet an arriving super guru. My experience convinced me of the sacredness of the person and I was duly initiated. In a short time the guru's behaviour was known to be in-congruent with my understanding, the sacredness was gone, and it was immediate. I was distraught and surrounded by chaos.
This morning I was ruminating over the thought that my experience then was a response to a story in my head, a story that I believed in good faith by mixing with faithful devotees. The story was not what was present before me or what existed outside of me. The individual or guru was separate and different from their character as it existed in the story accommodated by my imagination. I therefore saw as I had been encouraged to and then chose to believe. At the time the shocked was that the story was too far separated from the reality.
I do understand that we can never be free from seeing and interpreting things subjectively. Perhaps what exists now in my head is another story, however the point I would emphasise to my myself if not to others: some stories in their distance from and interpretation of the characters are not just interpretations,they are lies. I cried back then less because the guru was not a pure devotee and more because I had believed a lie.
Now after 28 years a practitioner, I see that young and naive people tend to form such stories around elder members. By reading the books, associating with others and hearing inspirational classes, their imagination allows them to suspect: 'this must be a pure devotee'. The fact that all accounts encourage a novice to search out a pure devotee, contributes greatly to the language and the framing of the object or person; a person who fulfils the necessity and perhaps not the qualifications.
In opposition to this current it is vital that elders are honest about themselves and don't allow youth to be over presumptuous. The grand vyasa-pujas or ceremonies of worship and the language of our traditions, when indulged in, may well be good for the preaching or influencing and motivating naive people, but they are (and as has been seen) to often a lie. In due course, the lie becomes catastrophic when the elder begins to believe it themselves.
Our history is important. It is important so that elders should insist upon being honest about themselves, good people no doubt as they are, but humbly human and faithful to Krishna; and younger members should beware of their naivety and the possible stories they may be forming in their heads about what may in fact not be present.