Little Wild Flowers

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By Sajjanasraya dasa

We can do great things, and I heard that if we want to accomplish great things we have to start with apparently small things, look at the details, concentrate on the essential, so we can go deep into the path of Bhakti. We should feel it is the most important thing in our life and put all of our heart and intelligence into developing our love for the Lord and giving it to others. We need to become friendly and compassionate at all levels. Becoming a happy, mature, advanced devotee, filled with compassion for others, is the best way to expand the Krishna consciousness movement. It is the attitude we have that is important and sometimes we can preach nicely even without ‘preaching’.

Some snapshots from life in the temple come to my mind: We are in the temple and this morning is Haridas Thakur appearence day. After Tulasi puja and in few minutes will be japa time. “Some announcement?” “Yes! Today it is a very special day, a great, great devotee appeared for our benefit…this morning let’s try to chant with all our attention, let’s put all our gratitude, love and attention on our japa…”

I have to go to cook, the kitchen is spotlessly clean and neat. We know we have to cook for the Sunday feast and it must be a very, very good feast, nothing ordinary. The head cook also reminds us that we have to try our best to satisfy Krishna, put our skill, our attention in the cooking and be concentrated. The food we cook will go to the spiritual world, Krishna, Sri Radha, the gopis, the cowherds boy will taste our preparations, and then all devotees and guests will taste it, we have to cook with love….. let’s pray, let’s try our best!…

Before harinam we check our dress and our motivation. We are going in the town center so the harinam should be nicely done. The devotees are advised to dress in simple clean and (ironed) dhotis and saris. We give our full attention to the Holy name.

An Istha ghosti is a wonderful opportunity to understand the hearts of the devotee. We express our feelings, and give suggestions to improve our divine service and to increase our sense of belonging in our devotional community.

The essence of everything is serving and doing things for Krishna with love, attention, care, respect, concentration and helping others to know their best friend. If people are ready to listen we can tell them directly about Him. Those who aren’t ready to hear directly about Krishna will be influenced by kindness of the devotees. Our outreach to others can take many forms.

We can feed poor and rich people prasadam, provide medical care, help people out of the ruins of an earthquake or a Tsunami. We can console the sick or help a person after a car crash (even if he is a butcher!). We can open Krishna conscious hospitals or schools up to university level. We can publish magazines and daily newspapers and hold conferences.

Apart from big projects, we can help others with little acts of kindness like giving a warm greeting to someone or helping an old lady cross a street. We can be kind and friendly to our neighbours. All this will help keep our hearts open and loving. Once Bhaktisiddhanta Sarswati Thakura chastised his disciple for not giving some donation to a beggar and said such neglect would make his heart hard. Our loving, giving and compassionate attitude will help us and others will be attracted to our good behaviour. This will allow them to be more open to hear the most important news we have to give them– the words that will help them to be free for ever from all kind suffering and death, words that can help them to go to our real home to be happy for ever. So before telling them the good news, good behaviour must be there. Obviously we can not ‘preach’ and being dishonest, rude, fanatic, indifferent or proud. Behaving in those way we become ridiculous and inefficient. Once in sankirtan a person told me: “You know, sometimes religious people ‘love the universe’, they developed cosmic love, universal love, they say ‘we are all brothers’ but then they fight all day with the neighbour next door…” During a famous meeting made mainly by sankirtan devotees Srila Prabhupada praised them for their service of distributing his books. Then one devotee said: “Srila Prabhupada what pleases you most?” It seemed that the devotee asked that question because he was sure of the answer, he thought that Srila Prabhupada would have said something like ‘that you distribute my books’, but instead Srila Prabhupada said “That you become pure devotees…” Srila Prabhupada also said that “a devotee is a gentleman” So giving others books of knowledge it is important because there people can find so many informations and inspiration, but then people needs living examples of purity to follow- sankirtan, I think, is not only giving others Srila Prabhupada’s books. That it is an aspect of sankirtan, others can be being expert in reading and explaining them, welcoming people at the temple, creating there a friendly and pure atmosphere, taking care of new people, make them pure devotees.

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1 Akruranatha

Well said! Well said!

Sometimes devotees have “rough exteriors,” or for some purpose may be “hard like a thunderbolt”, but because they are in touch with the supremely pure Personality of Godhead they have all good qualities of the demigods, or soon will develop them.

Srila Prabhupada was fond of quoting the verse from the 5th Canto, “yasyasti bhaktir bhagavaty akincana . . .” Devotees of Krishna display all the good qualities of demigods, whereas nondevotees really have no good qualities.

This sometimes seems like a paradox, because unfortunately we have all sometimes experienced beginning devotees (like me) quarreling, being dishonest, being envious of other devotees, or ambitious for some personal honor, whereas even in some more mundane organizations or societies people who never go to Bhagavatam class or chant Krishna’s name may seem to have very good manners.

However, the devotees can (and soon will) develop the trancendental, great qualities of the denizens of Vaikuntha, whereas the nondevotees, however polished they may appear, will be carried on the chariot of the mind and will not develop those truly terrific saintly qualities. They have only a thin veneer of politeness based on selfish calculation. They do not know how to serve and remember Krishna, who is truly everyone’s dearmost intimate friend.

I remember a long time ago Sura Prabhu told me how before he surrendered to Prabhupada he listened to other yogis and gurus, who put on airs of outward saintliness, but he could tell it was just a pretense, and that they did not have anything of substance to say. Then, when he heard Prabhupada, he saw someone who had an important message and was telling it like it is, straight, without any affectation of outward so-called “saintliness”. There was something direct and pure about Prabhupada, even (especially?) when he became angry with the mayavadis and so-called yogis. He showed us what genuine saintliness is really like.

One way I can know that I am really a devotee (even though I am a hopeless beginner), is that I have no attraction to make friends with nondevotees. Even though I still have much attraction to sense enjoyment and little attraction for the holy name, at least I have that little realization: only a devotee can truly be my friend.

Devotees can bestow “small acts of kindness” like no one else can. Only they can show the world what real love is like. I pray that I can some day develop such qualities.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 28th, 2008
2 Unregistered

Dear Akuranath Prabhu, Please accept my sincere obeisances, all glories to Srila Prabhupada

Thank you or your nice comment….just beside my article I saw ‘THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS‘ the title had something in common to WILD LITTLE FLOWERS (: so I out of curiosity I red it and well…it really showed the deep kindness of devotees, it looked like an answer, I liked it very, very much! it melted my hard heart…it is just as you said:
“Devotees can bestow “small acts of kindness” like no one else can. Only they can show the world what real love is like…..

Haribol
your servant
Sajjanasraya dasa

Comment posted by sajjanasraya on July 30th, 2008
3 Karnamrita.das

Sajjanasraya Prabhu! I loved your article and I hope you will write more. Your theme is one that many of us expose as the real solution to problems amongst devotees and for there to be flourishing Krishna conscious communities. Sacinandana Swami on his website (http://www.saranagati.net/index.php?S=3&Article=513) has a fabulous discussion on “The Community of Care” that speaks of how we need to be ideal ladies and gentlemen and really care for each other in every way. He speaks of a conversation he had with Radhanatha Maharaja and his success in Chopatty. ”

Making devotees” is not easy, but is easier than caring for them once they have come to Krishna. It seems to me that we have to stress being good, descent people, as a foundation of understanding the spiritual basics that we are not the body(which has turned out to be a very high thing), and are eternal servants of Krishna. Prabhupada said that being Krishna conscious means being conscious in general of all we do. He was the ideal example of that.

We have also heard that “example is better than precept” which means in effect that we have to “walk our talk” if our words are to have power and effect. In counseling there is the concept of “intent” and “impact”. Though we may have good intentions, our impact on others may be just the opposite. Therefore, we have to always consider the impact of our words on others.

Krishna consciousness is all about our relationship with others—-certainly with Krishna, yet also with devotees. We may not like all devotees from the material perspective, yet we need to have no ill will toward them or anyone else for that matter, extending them our well wishing and prayers for their highest good. If we can’t get along with devotees or people in general, we will not make much spiritual advancement (offending devotees as well as ordinary people are both offenses to the holy name according to Bhaktivinode Thakur). People are like mirrors that reflect back our attitudes and prejudices, so we have to consider their feedback, perspectives and sensitivities. Common courtesy goes a long way in making friends and keeping devotees.

I will share ways in which HH Bhakti-tirtha Swami recommends we deal with each other in the following comments as I am out of room here.

Comment posted by Karnamrita.das on August 3rd, 2008
4 Karnamrita.das

Bhakti-tirtha Swami has four wonderful principles for dealing with devotees:

1) Treat each person with the bhakti and care as if the success or failure of your own spiritual life depends on this. Do not take into concern how they treat you. The manner in which you treat people is the same way you are treating Guru and Krishna.

2) Anytime that there is a problem in a relationship, you should see it as your fault. Even if others are to blame, you will only add to the problem by considering them to be at fault.

3) You should treat every person with whom you come in contact with the same care as the person you love the most.

4) As we associate with others in our spiritual communities, we should do so in a mood that these are the people I am living with and they will probably be the people that I will leave this body with.

These are ideals and their application may seem very lofty, yet in my opinion we have to strive for them without thinking it an impossible goal and not make any endeavor. As Prabhupada said, “Impossible is word in a fool’s dictionary.” We have to be “possibility thinkers” and look for the nectar and not the sore.

I am the first to admit how difficult this can be with some, yet we can affirm that, “With Krishna’s help, all things are possible”. Everything begins from subtle to gross, so if have desire to have better relationships with difficult devotees Krishna will help us, or give us enough distance from someone that we can see the positive and possible. The most important thing is to change our own self, heart, attitude, and angle of vision. Often that can change a relationship. We are all in the shower of purification—a work in progress, and we need the blessings of devotees for success in our grand goal of loving Krishna.

Comment posted by Karnamrita.das on August 3rd, 2008
5 Unregistered

Dear Karnamrita Prabhu, please allow me to offer you my sincere obeisances, glories to Srila Prabhupada..

Nice to meet you and thank you for your comments…

I was inspired by the words and ideas of Arcana Siddhi Prabhu to write WIF, also the folloing passage from THE PILLARS OF SUCCESS (by HG Ravindra Svarupa P) impressed and moved me so much. Since years it looks to me as a most essential reading for devotees.
It is a picture of an healthy spiritual movement

I give more ideas next comment (:

Bhakti is at once personalistic and social, for it is a philosophical truth that the personal and the social cannot be separated. What a ‘person’ is can be fully manifest only through interactions with other persons. This principle is exemplified at the highest ontological level in Krsna, whose supreme personhood entails that He is also supremely social. The fullness of the Godhead entails that the supreme, transcendental Absolute is equally the supremely, transcendentally relative. Krsna, therefore, is never alone but always in the company of his devotees. He is constituted by relationships, and many of His proper and eternal names include those of his nearest and dearest — as, for example, Radha-kanta (Radha’s sweetheart), Yasoda-nandana (Yasoda’s darling boy), Partha-sarathi (charioteer to Prtha’s son) and so on. For this reason, bhakti — devotional service — is pre-eminently a social activity, and that social principle attains its fullest exfoliation in the idea of sankirtana, the congregational glorification of God’s name, fame, activities and so on. Therefore, Prabhupada’s founding a society of devotees was not simply a tactical expedience; it was a metaphysical necessity.
The effort of Prabhupada, then, was to establish the community or communion of devotees, a communion that, out of the natural overflowing of its own joy, would be ever increasing. That communion is one in which certain kinds of personal transactions would take place among the devotees; by them, the devotional consciousness of the participants would ever increase; and, in a spirit of compassion for those suffering outside this community, the members would always be initiating others into their circle to share in the felicity of their communion.

Comment posted by sajjanasraya on August 4th, 2008
6 Unregistered

I listened many times a seminar on Varnasrama held in Belgium by H.G. Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu.I think it was 1996.I liked it very, very much, and he said that in ISKCON at least we should start to have a brahmana class of people and this means people of real good character.
People that knows well philosophy and practice it; ready to forgive, honest, generous, good hearted, people of a sweet and loving character.
People that posses knowledge and also love.
I am little ’suspicious’ about varnasrama because I don’t think ISKCON is ready yet.
I think we should really establish brahminical culture. and also use what is useful coming from Varnasrama and vedic culture.
I think, we should use what is good to our advancement and surrender. In particular I think we neglected the treasures coming from the vedic culture.
In other words, some of my ideas are to stress the importance of a very good, attentive japa, of Bhakti sastri, the practice of prayer, and vaisnava etiquette, and devotional service in practice, but also basic knowledge of vedic pshycology, Ayurveda, vastu, vedic astrology, Hatha yoga and so on.
Also creating job opportunity for devotees: astrologers, pshycologists, cooks, spiritual counsellors, farmers, vastu consultant, editors, phisychian ,teachers, writers, and so many others.
Writing a book about the extreme importance of braminical culture and cow protection. A best seller, sold in millions copies. Why not?!
In other words giving more importance to real good sadhana, give importance to one’s health, and please now is the time to speak also about the ‘normal’ good qualities like honesty and friendship, responsibility…
to the importance and even the glory of a spiritual family, of taking care of one’s children….

If somebody wants to became devotee he/she has to follow a very good and satisfying training. A person that joins our movement should be helped at all levels he/ she should see that the movement really takes care of his health, the eating habit in ISKCON are very sattvic, he finds many new friends, learns a lot from vedic wisdom about (as I said basics of ayurveda, astrology, vastu and so on) temple life is alive with seminars and talks and most important he is understanding and practicing the real Truth.

Comment posted by sajjanasraya on August 7th, 2008
7 Unregistered

BACK TO THE BASICS

interesting article by Kaunteya Prabhu…look at the top

Competing brands of Gaudiya-vaisnavism at times claim that Srila Prabhupada only gave the basics, and that ISKCON people need to take shelter in their representatives to accede to higher dimensions of bhakti.

I beg to disagree. Besides the insulting and indefensible remark that ISKCON’s Founder-Acarya didn’t provide his followers with enough directions to achieve whatever is there to achieve, I would propose that ISKCON—or at least a good percentage of its members—need to go in the different direction. My observation is that devotees would tremendously benefit by absorbing themselves in the narrations of Mahabharata and Ramayana, thus imbibing the fundamental ethical values presented therein……

Comment posted by sajjanasraya on August 8th, 2008

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