My Initiations

Since the question of my initiation has come up again, let me tell you a little story about myself by way of analogy. In 1976, I received an unaccredited BA in General Studies through Study of Religion and the Whole from Paideia,  a university-without-walls in San Francisco. This was based on my experience with ISKCON discussed through the lens of “A Social Construction of Reality.” I demonstrated that my understanding was comparable to that of a person with a BA.

When I applied to San Francisco Theological Seminary (SFTS–PCUSA), a fully accredited school, they accepted me into their masters program. I took the Graduate Record Examination and scored well, had ecclesiastical recommendations, and seemed like the kind of person they’d like to have in their program since I did not fit their typical Presbyterian student profile. They welcomed diversity and encouraged diversity of opinions in class as well. The United Church of Christ (UCC) welcomed me with similar openness.

On the other hand, I received Harer nam from A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami in 1967, diksha in 1968, and sannyas in 1970. Now, some of those who have been initiated in “traditional” parivars do not accept these initiations.

In 1974, I received siddha-pranali initiation from Lalita Prasad Thakur, who accepted me even though he knew Swamiji’s lineage was made up because he knew I was sincere, determined, and qualified with no other resort. He never tried to re-initiate me out of respect for Swamiji, just as SFTS never tried to make me a Presbyterian and accepted my unaccredited BA. However, those in the Saraswati line do not accept this initiation or Lalita Prasad Thakur.

This sort of leaves me as a free agent not having to please either camp. In this way, I can think and say what I please as the Spirit leads me. Aloha.


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