We — the devotees who assemble the news and views — are driven by a pioneering spirit to do something wonderful for Srila Prabhupada’s Western mission. That “something wonderful” is much more than just gardening and farming, the occupations we normally associate with an ISKCON farm community.
What if I told you that gardening and farming are activities that Western people deeply respect and positively identify with? What if I could convince you that redirecting ISKCON’s current trajectory from over-dependence on Hindu congregational support to interdependence on the land, the cows and each other would stimulate congregational growth and a land based economy?
Here’s a simpler way to put it: What if the remedy for ISKCON’s first-half mission drift is second-half mission focus? If you like the flow of these questions, jump in the river of possibility and swim with us.
ISKCON pioneered America’s initial vegetarian thrust. ISKCON squawked about animal rights years before PETA peeped. Kirtan, reincarnation, karma, intelligent design… Prabhupada’s ISKCON led the charge. Prabhupada’s courage changed the whole world. Because he made himself vulnerable to mission collapse, Krishna came to the rescue.
So, cast away notions that Gardening 101 is our moniker. Prabhupada Part Two is our logo. Yes, you’ll find farming and gardening “how-to” advice, but awakening attachment to the order of the spiritual master is our real course description. Spicing up first half precept with second half example-based teaching is a tasty win-win recipe for everyone.
Growing food and then shaping a preaching strategy around the distribution of that food is the new cutting edge.
How will we know that strategy is working? What’s the metric for knowing we’re on the right path?
Externally, you will see a blossoming of agrarian landscapes, the growth of an agrarian economy, prosperity enjoyed by an agrarian people and vigorous congregational growth.
Internally, something inside of you changes. Everything you see before you — the soil, the weeds, the weather, etc. — becomes relational to Krishna. You begin to pay more attention to Krishna’s creation and how to use every leaf, flower and fruit prudently in Krishna’s service.
You become native to that place.
Because empowerment and vulnerability are inseparably linked, the second half dialogue is a mandate, not an option. It plants the seed for a future that Srila Prabhupada predicted we must prepare for. And just as Srila Prabhupada wanted to “sit down” in Gita Nagari to explore that future, we are “sitting down” with Srila Prabhupada in the present moment.
We humbly invite you to pull up a chair and participate. We thrive on stimulating feedback, constructive criticism and guidance from Vaiṣṇavas, big and small, young and old. City mouse or country mouse, all are welcome in the house Srila Prabhupada built for everyone… even those soiled sudra gardeners!
Senior Editor of Second-Half.org
Project Director for the Small Farm Training Center
and soiled sudra farmer at large