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We Also Must Show by Example
Hare Krishna. In response to the idea that distributing books will solve all of the world’s problems, that certainly is an important task and a must for distributing spiritrual knowledge, which is indeed most important for curing social ills of all kinds. All the knowledge is in the books.
However, you must take it a step farther by also living according to the books. Teach by example, show what needs to be done. Develop solutions and action plans according to the spiritual knowledge. For example, if you spend all your time to distribute books but your temple dumpster is still filled with styrofoam plates and cups, or if you still have to drive in heavy traffic ten miles to purchase all of your bhoga and supplies from Costco or Sam’s Club, and so on, then you are not setting a good example. You may distribute so many books half the time, but the other half of your activities may contribute as much as anyone else to the polution in the world and spoiling the environment. We must be practical about this and not only distribute the knowledge but show people how to use it in a practical way. We must show the alternatives.
Srila Prabhupada once said that history would record that the Hare Krishna Movement saved society by promoting the agrarian lifestyle. And yes, that lifestyle would certainly solve many of the world’s problems. But how many devotees are doing that? Srila Prabhupada said to distribute his books, but that devotees should also know what is in them. And knowing what is in them means you adjust your life accordingly and show others how to do the same. There must be practical examples to show people what to do to solve their problems.
Srila Prabhupada also said that he accomplished only half of what he wanted. One thing being the establishment of temples and book distribution, which he did very well, and the other being the establishment of Varnashrama dharma, which means setting the example by showing the lifestyle, which he still wanted to do. And again, how many temples or devotees are really trying to do this?
Book distribution is a necessity, but for some people if this is the only solution you have got to offer, it will sound like the same old Hare Krishna rhetoric. There is more to solving and showing how to solve the world’s problems than that. How many people truly read in this day and age, or can even understand high philosophy when they do read it? There must be the examples for solving the problems, and not just saying that talking about global warming is like impersonalism. These days an increasing number of people are not going to follow or understand that line of thinking, so how many people are you really interested in reaching?
If anything, by submitting this article I was showing that the prophecies in the Puranas are indeed coming true. Call it global warming, call it materialism, call it atheism or whatever you want. But it all comes down to the false aims and misdirected actions of society. And we are the ones who have to show how to correct that. And the most important way to correct it is to keep the spiritual tradition alive and well. Thus, we have to promote it, but also know and live it. And pointing out a problem and including what others say about it and the research they have done is not impersonalism, as one person seems to suggest. It is reporting on the problem and what is happening to bring about an awareness of the issue. If we have the spiritual knowledge, then we don’t merely need to distribute the knowledge, but we need to put it to use to show others how they must also live and use the knowledge that we have.
We need to work on many levels. If you distribute books, that’s great, we need that. If someone else wants to start an organic garden to offer good foods to the Deities, that’s great, we need that. If someone else wants to start a school for their children, that’s great, we need that. If someone wants to start a free food/prasada distribution program, that’s great, we need that, and we all know how influential that can be. If someone wants to start Varnashrama, that’s great, Srila Prabhupada also wanted that. If someone wants to preach, that’s also great, and we all know the need for that. If someone wants to help warn others about these environmental or other problems we are facing, that’s also great and may indeed enforce the need to take this spiritual knowledge more seriously. So we need to work on many levels.
There is something everyone can do, and we must have room for everyone. Changing the world is not a one man operation, nor is it dependent only on one solution. I was hoping that by now, in the development of the Hare Krishna Movement, there would be more devotees who would understand this rather than simply emphasizing one service, as if what anyone else does is not important. I know we can do better than this. We have to be able to present practical solutions to accompany the spiritual knowledge in which people of all levels and backgrounds can participate. Otherwise they will look at us without any understanding of what we have to offer and like we are only some fringe group catering to a few. This has been a problem with the movement for a long time. We have to be able to connect with a wider group of people than we have been. And if we only have one way of looking at things, that will not help.
So what is your solution? What is your action plan? What are the suggestions and recommendations that you have to offer others? We cannot merely distribute books and expect others to come up with these things. Some people might, but for the most part we have to do that ourselves along with our book distribution. We have to be the ones to provide solutions on all levels if we really expect to attract people to the practical knowledge and way of life that we have to offer, and that Srila Prabhupada gave to us. That is how we benefit society at large and how we keep Srila Prabhupada’s legacy alive. And I will be glad to work with anyone who shares this vision.
Sri Nandanandana dasa
» Posted By Sri Nandanandana On Aug 16, 2007 @ 6:28 pm
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