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ISKCONResolve and the Justice Ministry Braja Bihari dasa Euro ELM October 5 th, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "ISKCONResolve and the Justice Ministry Braja Bihari dasa Euro ELM October 5 th, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 ISKCONResolve and the Justice Ministry Braja Bihari dasa Euro ELM October 5 th, 2006

2 Seven Purposes of ISKCON 1. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to society at large in order to check the imbalance of values in life and to achieve real unity and peace in the world. 2. To propagate a consciousness of Krishna, as it is revealed in the Bhagavad Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam. 3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity. 4. To teach and encourage the sankirtan movement 5. To erect for the members and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the personality of Krishna. 6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life. 7. With a view towards achieving aforementioned Purposes, to publish and distribute magazines, books and other writings.

3 Summary of ISKCON’s Purposes 1.Help ISKCON devotees become more Krishna Conscious 2.Help others take to Krishna consciousness

4 Causes of Conflict Adapted from Peace Skills, A Manual for Community Mediators

5 Does Conflict Resolution Have Anything to Do With ISKCON’s Mission? Leaders spend so much time on conflict. When devotees point out the bad qualities of others, they acquire those qualities themselves. Srila Prabhupada’s statement about ISKCON only being checked from within Unhealthy conflicts makes ISKCON a place people don’t want to be a part of.

6 What Causes Conflict? Least Difficult to Resolve Most Difficult to Resolve Information Resources Structures Values

7 Conflicts about Information Mis-information. (using grazing land, adopted Gov’t curriculum) Different interpretation of data (exorbitant rent) Different views on what information is relevant Lack of information (one or both parties speculate about information) or just doesn’t know (GBC resolution) –Organization doesn’t communicate sufficiently with members

8 Conflict over Resources Conflicts will be over material resources: –Land –Money –Objects –manpower Not enough room for the Brahmacaris No place for the cows to graze Remember SKP zone wars? New Vrindavan? Radha Damodara?

9 Conflict About Structures Organizations (like (ISKCON) often find conflicts due to members concerns over: –Access to power –Access to resources –How decisions are made Dual lines of authority Is the Gurukula under the Temple or not Caring for devotees Vs spreading Krishna consciousness. Unclear job descriptions. Differences in paid staff and volunteers SKP competition

10 Conflicts involving Values Values are formed by Guru/Sadhu/Sastra but also by life experiences and culture. Challenges to a value are a threat to a person or group’s identity. Most difficult to resolve. Reaction to this conflict is usually defensive. Withdrawal possible to preserve identity. Assumption is that resolution of conflict involves a change in identity. If opportunity given to clarify values and feel heard, people move away from defensiveness and mutually resolve conflicts. They should raise funds in their own name, since their activities are clearly separate from ISKCON.

11 Values continued… Assumption is that resolution of conflict involves a change in identity. If opportunity given to clarify values and feel heard, people move away from defensiveness and mutually resolve conflicts. “They should raise funds in their own name, since their activities are clearly separate from ISKCON.”

12 How Should ISKCON Leaders React to Conflict Cool headed: know that conflict is inevitable. “Non-Anxious Presence” Try to understand it’s multiple causes Deal with it decisively, even if the decision is to do nothing for time being. Calmly figure out the next step. Try to get others to deal with it—avoid criticism of partiality on your part Recognize “Naïve Realism” Think of your options:…..

13 Recognize Naïve Realism 1.I’m a reasonable, rational, unbiased person. I basically see objective reality. 2.Other rational people will share my views 3.If they don’t, they are either: a.Exposed to very different information b.Lazy or irrational c.Ill-motivated, biased

14 ISKCON’s Approaches to Conflict Decreasing Power of Disputants to Manage their own conflicts Negotiati on Private or Community Decision Making (Possibility of Enhancing Relationships) Formal Decision Making Avoidance Mediation Arbitration Legislation Community EndsLaw Begins Adapted from TP/GBC/ISKCON Authority decision #1 #2 #3

15 Three ways to deal with a Problem Interests Rights Power

16 What Can You Do? The ISKCON System….Option #1 Option #1: Take a managerial decision. –This is Prabhupada’s management system –TP’s, GBCs and ultimately the GBC body have the privilege and duty to make decisions in accord with guru, sadhu and sastra and in the best interests of ISKCON –Pros: quick. Practical. –Cons: When leaders take decisions, some won’t like it. After enough decisions, many will have been displeased at one time or another. Takes up a huge amount of leader’s time

17 The ISKCON System—Option #2 #2 Arbitration/investigation/adjudication That CPO judges and others be trained to deal with ISKCON conflicts and internal complaints of improper activities Pros: Appropriate in some cases. Disputants won’t accept other processes Cons: investigations take time, are costly, are often inconclusive, and in reality are far more subjective than we tend to think

18 The ISKCON System—Option 3 #3. ISKCONResolve Pros: Can not only solve conflict but can also improve relationships; saves time; devotees feel heard; Leaders don’t have to get involved in all conflicts; conflicts solved as locally as possible; devotees become empowered to solve their own problems; devotees keep the power with them to decide outcome Cons: Not all conflicts solved this way; sometimes issues are such that a new ISKCON law or managerial precedent is required; shouldn’t replace ISKCON authority structure

19 ISKCONResolve: Ombudsman  Neutral—The ombudsman advocates for fair process favoring neither for the visitor or management  Confidential—Unless given permission by the Visitor to reveal his identity, the ombuds keeps all discussions confidential  Independent—The ombuds has access to the GBC body, but s/he is not within the regular ISKCON authority structure

20 Ombudsman  Appointed by Leadership to assist all devotees  Devotees can contact an ombuds knowing they will be confidential and neutral  Help with shuttle diplomacy. Arranging mediations; offering option  Helps to cut down the festering of ill feelings  “Traffic cop” / Report trends to leadership

21 Ombudsman: Sample cases  Many times devotees threatening to take ISKCON to Court  A woman afraid that her previous devotee/lover will reveal to the world the details of an affair they had  Questioning the productivity of an ISKCON Ministry  Gurukulis / temple conflict  A devotee feeling their guru keeps initiating newcomers but gives no time to other disciples

22 Mediation Two parties voluntarily agree to work out differences with the help of a impartial 3 rd person The mediator facilitates disputants as they work toward their own solution. Mediator is not a judge. Disputants get to speak their concerns openly but in the presence of a trained person who directs the process Often takes between two and five hours to complete. Saves lots of time. Can lead to improved relationships

23 GBC Resolution: Whereas, The GBC body seeks to demonstrate its interest in the concerns of ISKCON devotees, and seeks to encourage the timely voluntary resolution of disputes within ISKCON Whereas, the universal practice of International organizations is to provide machinery of prompt resolution of internal disputes, And whereas it is universally accepted that ombudsmen provide an effective and confidential means of addressing individual concerns with the organization. And whereas it is universally accepted that mediation entered into voluntarily by two disputant parties with the help of a trained mediator is a proven procedure for resolving interpersonal disputes to the mutual satisfaction of the disputants.

24 GBC Resolution: Resolved that: The GBC announces the universal support of the establishment of a voluntary dispute resolution system to facilitate the resolution of members concerns. To accomplish this end, we unanimously urge regions and local temples to undertake the establishment of regional based ombuds and mediation structures. Members of the GBC pledge their support in the develop of these structures and in being responsive to the concerns of members brought to their attention through these processes. A Sub-committee of Braja Bihari dasa, Madhava Pandit dasa, and Arnold M Zack shall coordinate these efforts on behalf of the GBC body.

25 Results to date: Great preaching potential, as ISKCON is the first religious organization in the world to take up ADR on a Global basis. We’ve trained the Anglican Church, and worked with the Catholic Church in the US. Also are training judges and lawyers in India’s High Courts. Done many mediations Over 500 ombud’s visitors Started arbitration system Conflict analysis

26 How can we prevent conflict The key is to have a “nonanxious presence”. Listen well. Expect conflicts Preach strongly against unhealthy triangling by gossip. Instead encourage direct communications. Encourage devotees to look for the good in others, and know that when they focus on the faults, they will also acquire them. Teach devotees communication skills Have everyone chant attentively and always remember Krishna!

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