Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Devotional mentality takes precedence, not rules

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes only the essence of a devotee's attitude. If a devotee sincerely surrenders, the Lord, as the Supersoul in everyone's heart, immediately understands this. Thus even though, externally, a devotee may not render full service, if he is internally sincere and serious the Lord welcomes his service nonetheless. Thus the Lord is known as bhāva-grāhī janārdana because He takes the essence of one's devotional mentality.

- SB 8.23.2 - Purport by Srila Prabhupada

This quote, i think, forms the foundation for bhakti yoga. Our sincere efforts to please the Lord and the Lord's consequential mercy upon us forms the basis of our advancement in Krishna consciousness. One cannot go without the other. I also think when Srila Prabhupada was physically present in this world, he practiced this point to the core. No matter how ragged or far-off an individual was, if that individual had some inclination for sincere service (in whatever form or shape) towards Krishna, Srila Prabhupada being the expert fanned that small spark of service to a forest fire. To do that, Srila Prabhupada took the most humble position, tolerated our misgivings (in other words did not care for our negative qualities) and was ready to facilitate at any level as long the individual person performed his or her sincere service. To actually bow down and humble oneself to help a person advance in their sincerity/service towards Krishna is real preaching and this type of preaching pleases the Lord. Also, this exhibits one's love for the other. This love between individuals forms the bond and strength against adversities in this material world and helps us stay focused in Krishna consciousness. Srila Prabhupada, therefore, was and is the glue for this whole movement because he was unabashed in his love by patiently teaching us to render some (small or big) service to Krishna. People took note of this love.

Unfortunately, in today's ISKCON (and this is strictly my experience), we have become more inclined towards following rules and regulations detached from this mood of loving dealings and judge devotees as "advanced" based on one's ability to strictly follow rules. By loving dealings, I do not mean just words of sweetness or politeness at all times...I mean a genuine desire to show concern for others based on philosophical and spiritual values.

If we want to cultivate a worldwide community, then we have to follow in the footsteps of Srila Prabhupada in that we should be ready to tolerate others misgivings and at the same time genuinely encourage them to perform some service to Krishna according to their natural capacity. This does not require management training or workshops...all it requires is a genuine feeling or desire to help others get closer to Krishna. If we display this quality of affection and tolerance, devotional mentality will automatically grow in us and in others. In this devotional atmosphere, the desire to follow rules will automatically follow.

In essence, rules are secondary to cultivating devotional mentality and not the other way round. As followers of ISKCON, we have to help people increase their devotional mentality (bhava) towards God, then, once we successfully do that in an individual, automatically the individual will gradually develop the desire to follow the rules to make further progress. I believe the current ISKCON has to create an atmosphere (by that I mean the local leaders should lead from the front) where the followers feel welcomed and their natural propensity to serve the Lord (in devotion) be aroused. I feel this is lacking and hence contrary to the purport above.

Hare Krishna

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