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Intimacy Is Based on Respect

Thursday, 05 December 2019 / Published in Blog thoughts / 372 views

By Devaki dd

A culture of respect forms the very foundation to spiritual practice. In
our daily lives, any truly intimate relationship has to be based on deep
respect. If this foundation is not there, intimacy may invite over-
familiarity which spoils any relationship. Over-familiarity means that
we treat each other cheaply and take each other for granted. Thus,
disrespect will infiltrate, and we may use each other for our own
gratification. In the purport to the Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.23.2), it is
stated:
“These are two important processes in serving the husband or the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. Visrambhena means ‘with intimacy’, and gauravena
means ‘with great reverence’”.
Not only do we find these two aspects in the husband/wife relationship and
with the Supreme Lord, but in any close relationship of intimacy and
confidentiality.
In modern day life we consider respect to be formality and impersonalism,
and we try to artificially create intimacy in a cheap way by discarding
respect. We don’t want to pay the price for true intimacy, which is service
in humility while honoring the other.
And in return we simply create over-familiarity — taking each other lightly
and using each other in subtle ways for our own gratification. Such
tendencies also infiltrate our spiritual practice and dealings within our
devotee communities. For example, at times we can observe how we are losing
the tradition and etiquette of rising up from our seat when a senior person
enters or passes by. Or, when meeting a devotee after a long time, we may
not bother paying obeisances by going on our knees and lower our head to
the ground, but we simply say with folded hands: “Oh, how nice to see you!
Vancha kalpas!” Or we may speak about a sannyasi in a very casual way,
referring to him by his name, without adding the title of Swami or
Maharaja: “Did you hear — Kadamba Kanana is coming!” By doing so, we want
to show off how we are a confidential associate and ‘buddies’ with such a
highly elevated personality and enjoy an easy-going relationship with him.
We use this person for our subtle sense gratification, showing off how
close we are to him. Such behavior is becoming rather common and, sadly,
demonstrates a very uncultured and disrespectful attitude.

We can observe a similar tendency when we show off and try to bring
attention to ourselves by laughing loudly, behaving in a loose and
frivolous way, or for us ladies dressing in an unchaste fashion. The root
problem of such inappropriate behavior is, once again, disrespect. We use
others to show off, either on a gross or subtle platform.
If we had genuine respect for others around us, we would not want to
exploit them for our subtle gratification. Then, our respect manifests in
our reserved behavior of not wanting to bring attention to ourselves and
distract persons of the other gender from their attention towards Krishna.
We don’t want to disturb others’ minds. It is rather subtle yet factual
and deep.

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