By Romapada Swami
Does everybody know everybody? Kind off, mas o menos, all right.
I think the first time I had the opportunity to speak at the same time and the same place with Radhanath Maharaj was, as what Varaya dasi was describing, in this wonderful temple in the downtown area, Mumbai and it was very wonderful, always very nice being with… and since then it has happened several times, in our Chicago temple, but somehow I haven’t been in San Diego, and I can’t even count the number, more than my toes and fingers so many years ago that I came and just coincidentally, with Radhanath Maharaj at the same time so I’m happy to be with him and together to be with you. We were asked to speak on the same topic, suggest take the topic and expand the topic and the topic is loving relationships.
I will say maybe five things, about it and he will say everything I didn’t say and may be more. One of my favorite saying about Krishna consciousness is, is all about relationships ultimately our relationship with God. The essence of our deeper and true happiness in life certainly is found in loving relationships and when loving relationships have God at the center or even to be more specific and say Krishna at the center then loving relations are true and enduring and endearing.
Just a little sharing a little anecdotal piece. There’s a devotee couple somewhere on this planet and they’re very skilled at family counseling. For some years they did this as a profession and now these devotees they are just naturally doing that in their association with others. So there’s another couple. He is a very nice devotee and she’s a very nice devotee and they got married. Then something happened, a little bit later they had a little friction in the marriage, so she went and he went and kept counseling It wasn’t working out, it wasn’t working out and I suggested why don’t you try this very nice couple that I know. They are very good. So they went and it worked out like just like that! So I spoke to the wife and said “Wow congratulations, you couldn’t have imagined so much. She said it was really simple. I just reminded him why we got married!
And she said there is a saying, I’m holding up my hand like this, there is a saying from mother Teresa, and the bottom line of which is I will come to the bottom line, but there’s a whole series of statements where it says, she says she put this on her wall in Kolkata if you tried to be generous and kind to other people they may take advantage of you. Be kind anyway! If you try to go out of your way to assist other people, some persons may fault you that you have some motivation, be kind anyway! If you work your whole life and try to develop something that is very wonderful offering to the world in a short period time thereafter somebody made dismantle the whole thing very quickly. Built something very wonderful anyway! And there’s a whole series of these things. If you act out of selflessness and people may criticize you have some motivations act selflessly anyway. The whole series and in the end says something like this In the final analysis it’s not between you and them It’s in relation to God anyway. She said I just shared this with this couple that you know you got married because here’s a spiritual personality attracted to spiritual life, here is another and you want to be together and take shelter of Krishna and serve Krishna together and you forgot that somehow. Just remember that That’s the essence of the bond between you, and the affection that you have for each other. There may be this friction point or that friction point. But don’t forget, it’s all about your relationship with God anyway. Because when your relation with God is right then it’s very easy. To have a relationship, loving relationships with others. And minus that there’s another kind of relationship that has its sticky points and sometimes friction points and sometimes explosive points That’s one sharing. Another is hearing about hearing, just like we’re doing this evening, coming together and hearing what we say in the language of the Bhagavatam, Krishna-katha or topics about Krishna. Just hearing topics about Krishna.
The verse from Bhagavad-gita Krishna describes the nature of persons who are feeling satisfied “tusti” their hearts feeling very peaceful and “ramanti” very happy, jubilant in heart. And how did that jubilation and satisfaction comes, it comes from they are hearing and discussing together spiritual sound vibration topics. I am going to read just one verse from a section of Srimad Bhagavatam which is about that big in its translation commentary. It is spoken by one of the great liberated souls like perfected souls called “uttama” Bhagavat personalities there are nine sons among some one hundred sons of Rishabadev Rishabadev is an incarnation of Krishna and his teachings eventually became the Jane religion, so being non-violent and respecting life the principles of Rishabadeva’s teachings became the teachings and principles of the Jane religion. so his 100 sons, some number of them became learned priestly personalities, another number of then became Kings and ruled the earth and another 9 just became perfectly realized transcendentalists and they were very gifted. They had powers, mystic powers whereby they could travel not just anywhere on earth but anywhere at will just by their willing to do so. They were totally detached from worldly things and totally fixed in all spiritual things. So one time, one day, they happened to be in a place where a great King, named Maharaja Nimi was performing a sacrifice, a ritual and as he was in the midst of preparing, just to begin the ritual, here come these nine effulgent personalities, each one of them effulgent like many suns, like one is setting over there and he stopped everything and he immediately stood up by the way, you are not supposed to do that when you are doing those kind of rituals you complete them. He didn’t he just stopped and approached these effulgent personalities and he said I don’t know who you are you but you are obviously something very wonderful and I think it is in my best interest if I inquire from you about higher purposes of life and so he presented a number of questions and each of them responded with answers to his different questions. This is a very wonderful section, very deep and profound, And there’s one verse by one of them, his name is Antarikshya, which means beyond of what you can see, that was what his name means and he was explaining about loving relationships nice, and in his description he expresses, I’ll read the verse but I’ll paraphrase first, he expresses that when spiritually minded persons I don’t know you but I understand about you that you’re spiritually minded persons of different backgrounds, different persuasions and so forth but spiritually minded persons. So he says when spiritually minded persons come together and they discuss topics about transcendence specifically topics about Krishna then something happens like magic happens, like spiritual magic happens and their hearts become soft their heart becomes cleansed and loving relationships ensue.
I read the verse and then just explain a little bit. One should learn how to associate with the devotees of the Lord by gathering with them to chant the glories of the Lord. This process is most purifying. As devotees thus develop their loving friendship they feel mutual happiness and mutual satisfaction and by thus encouraging one another they are able to give up material sense gratification which is the cause of all suffering. So part of what we were doing earlier, the singing is just names of the Supreme Lord and whenever the language one speaks,whenever the culture one comes from… One of the places that I visit, because I dislike people so much, the China, I made a commitment to regularly to go to China. And one of the things I like about the Chinese people I appreciate very much, is there isn’t a word in the Chinese language for God! Like when they had to translate the Bhagavad-gita there isn’t a Chinese word for it and what is that mean, because words or symbols, they don’t even have a concept so they don’t have a word to master a concept for God! You follow, it’s not like they’re when they chant, it’s not like, they have a mental concept at their latching onto, they don’t have one. It’s the sound itself and the sound itself acts in such a way that it awakens a dormant, like a seed is dormant becomes awaken and it sprouts. Like I put a seed in some moisture exposed to the Sun and it sprouts. It can sit in a jar or in a bag or in a box or something or just with the elements that make a seed sprout and it sprouts and similarly attraction for Krishna awakens just by sound! Is not a cultural thing is not a language thing is not a notional thing, is a spiritual thing. So I’m sitting with a group of people that are Chinese and we are having kirtan, I’m just picturing the seed of attraction for Krishna that is weakening just by that sound.
Again, is not the language meaning that matters, is the spiritual sound’s act and is that spiritual sound’s act it awakens that dormant attraction, of love for Krishna and then naturally for those who are vibrating that sound together the sound Krishna. The sound of the name of Krishna, the topics of Krishna, the message of Krishna and the form of Krishna, the qualities of Krishna, the devotees of Krishna and loving relationships awaken. In the verse you have to be a Sanskrit scholarly audience, three times one same word is used and and the word is “mitaha”. Mitaha means mutual it says mutual loving attraction mutual satisfaction and mutually becoming detached from the miseries of the world. Just by sound vibration. That’s one of the reasons why we’re very enthusiastic about these books and hearing and discussing these books with one another and with others and whoever because it fosters loving relationships. So I encourage you kirtan and topics about Krishna, spiritual sound vibration this descending from the spiritual into this realm hear these sound vibrations and something awakens. Love towards Krishna love towards those who are similarly engaged and attracted to Krishna. That’s the second point. And the last three points I will bundle them together and I am done. One of the places that I like very much is our we have a farm community in mid-pennsylvania. and there are a lot of cows and fantastic land. The farm was purchased not because it was near a temple, that was a mistake. But the land itself is it’s some of the most fertile land anywhere it’s where there are many Amish farmers in the territory because it’s very good land. So every year for the last I don’t know, between 25 and thirty years I am going there conducting retreats at the farm and slowly, slowly, slowly their facilities have expanded and it is very nice place and two years ago, it turned there we could may be hold a retreat the theme of which was loving relationships. Just like this evening. So instead of 25-30 hours worth of loving relationships this conversation is a 20-minute one. It’s a very wonderful topic and certainly by discussing the topic, contemplating the topic, sharing, discussing the topic you can imagine what happened to being tuned into the importance of how to grow So this is a little bit like practical things and then Maharaja can speak on the inspirations things.
So three practical things along the hearing topics about Krishna and remembering that Krishna is at the center of all of our relationships where there is genuine love. Three things. One is respect. When relationships go negatively when relationships break down, before the relationship breaks down respect breaks down. You heard the expression, I am sure, familiarity breeds contempt. So here’s two people that they don’t know each other so well when they come together they like each other and then they separate, well that’s a nice person and that’s a nice person, so they start to become friends or they get married or something like. The relationship gets closer, and when the relationship gets closer you find out all the good, the bad and mixed about the person. Those of you that are married know that what I am talking about. You find all about the weaknesses and the strengths and the idiosyncrasies of the person you are now living with. And with that can come familiarity. And with familiarity it breeds, it doesn’t have to, but it commonly breeds contempt I know your ugly stuff, you know all my ugly stuff and one points to the other and respect disappears becomes something else, besides relationship. Becomes very dysfunctional. So if you have a close relationship a loving relationship it’s essential that there is respect. Even even if you know all the shortcomings of the other person. Just still respect the other person. Because this is how to have a loving relationship. I didn’t have that kind of relationship that Radhanath Maharaj had with Bhaktitirtha Swami but I had enormous admiration for him and when I stayed at our farm in Gitanagari, the place where I was staying is the place where Bhaktitirtha Swami before he departed from this world he would stay. And on the wall there is this nice saying about a friend. It goes something like this A friend is one who knows you, they know where you’ve been they know what your shortcomings are, they accept you for who you are and at the same time, very gently they continue to encourage you to grow. So when you become close to someone, there is some feeling of love for this someone and you know their shortcomings, you see their strength and in the mood of friendship and love, in a gentle manner you consider what I can do for this wonderful person and help them take another and durable step of growth in a way that’s wholesome will make them happy and so forth. Like in a friendly nurturing kind of mood with respect for the core their inner value. Our teachings as a devotee, our vaishnava teaching is when respect all forms of life. some time Prabhupada would say “even an ant” meaning like something insignificant. So what to speak of someone significant. What to speak of someone who’s carrying in their heart an aspiration for coming closer to God. For getting in closer touch with their spiritual essence, despite my shortcomings. Respect minimally. Respect goes to the fact that within that blade of grass or that ant crawling on the ground and the burn in the tree, or whatever, the tree itself, there is a spirit soul which is spiritually part and parcel of the Supreme Soul. So I respect.
Now is in the body of a tree or a bird or an ant or a blade of grass or another person, another human, but there is intrinsic world within this form of life. And I respect that. And that former life as part of that soul’s transmigration and moving according to the laws of nature to the different species of life or in the human form of life if there is aspiration to reach the supreme goal of life. How wonderful, I respect that, and there are differences differences I respect also. But the essence of this question is the place where the respect goes. Now how can I be of service in respect to that special quality of that individual. Now saying it in reverse again. When respect starts to fade and even disappear, you can’t have a relationship with another person or that person. It’s essential for loving relationships. It’s a very essential not just nice but is an essential part of loving relationships.
So when we associate with others is not just a pollyanna message so you look pretty good but there’s good and intrinsic worth within every person! To see that seek it, find it, encourage it, nourish it, appreciate it and on the strength of that respect then also how I can be of service to help this other person and how you’ll be willing to receive their input also, how they can help me be a better person. Come closer to that ultimate goal of attaining the Supreme. Just one more point and I am done. Each of these points which I am speaking was long description with different scriptural references and looking from different angles because of our time and just speaking some practical points, I am trying. For loving relationships there’s a group of us who get together from time to time in a scheduled manner, like your counselors or we call them the mentors, so we have meeting gatherings amongst those who are doing extending care, spiritual care to others, and our appreciation is that as we who are extending spiritual care to others, if we want to show or to model what that spiritual care to others is so much depend upon our spiritual care for one another, how we extend our relationship with one another and one of the things that, again, breaks down or blocks that kind of loving relationship is we’re not sure we’re trusting the other person. So if you want loving relationships that are based upon trust, the first and foremost thing is to become trustworthy ourselves.
Nice topic. In fact I spoke on it in China and then again to all If we do certain things like you know, simple things, if you give your word, keep your word you say to somebody something. Maharaj we can have a call tomorrow at 9:30, we will have a call tomorrow at 09:30 on something. Now I’m gonna be there at 9:30 and you know he’ll be there at 9:30 cause he’s trustworthy. Not that you say you’re going to be there but then….Keep your word! Once you give your word. Be careful with what word you give. When you give your word keep your word. And the opposite, someone gives their word and you know there are not going to keep it, do you trust the person? And confidentiality! You know, I don’t need to expand on that too much. Someone shares something with you in confidence and the next thing you know it’s all over the universe! Is that person going to share something in confidence with you again? Probably not! And if he’s not going to share something in confidence it’s due to lack of trust. Without the long list, because of the time, consider those things that *you* find in others that make you trust others and trying to be that yourself! Be trustworthy and it invokes trust and then you can have a loving relationship because in loving relationships according to our Acaryas teachers, predecessors teachers, one of the symptoms of the loving relationships is disclosing one’s mind in confidence and hearing others disclose their mind to you in confidence. There may be reluctance to disclose one’s mind in confidence if one is not trustworthy. What are you going to do with that information? Be trustworthy and it fosters loving relationships. Something I can practically do, be a trustworthy person. And then, because of this there are so many lonely people in the world. They would like without exception. Everyone wants to love others and experience love of others for them. Is universal, love and be loved. To start with be trustworthy! And a final thing. I mentioned it already but certainly worth repeating. Have proper spiritual conception of others. I am just going to share something that I present in colleges. One of the things I present in colleges is about relationships.
It takes 45 minutes but the punch line is that if I don’t understand the other person properly and the other person doesn’t understand me and I try to have a relationship with him what is it? And to understand an other person without having truly a spiritual conception, because that’s what the other person is, a spiritual being, nor a spiritual conception of myself, and I am trying to have a loving relationship, is gonna be something else! You could try but it’s gonna be something else! if you want to have very real genuine, sustainable, durable, happy, loving relationships, you have to come to the spiritual conception of ourselves and of others.
Krishna says in The Bhagavad-gita: learned persons who who can see the spiritual quality of all living beings regardless of their life form or who they are or where they come from or their culture, their background, their religion, or some other, the spiritual quality and more broadly their spiritual equality so many differences. But the spiritual foundation of myself and others and together let us then consider our loving relationship with one another where, based on these points already mentioned, especially this hearing of descending spiritual sound vibrations together, cleansing, mutually feelings some happiness, mutually feeling the upliftment and cleansing and appreciating that mutual connection with the supreme and going forward step by step in acting, developing, and acting within a loving relationship with one another. These are like building blocks or practical items that can foster loving relationships.
We had a pre-agreement and we’re going to keep it that I am going to speak for a little while and then Maharaj can speak, so he will talk about the inspirational part. So put this together with the inspirational part and put together some loving relationships.