My audience was a qualified and senior assembly of Vaishnavas, with several Maharajas like HH Krishna Kshetra Maharaja, Yadunandana Maharaja and others participating. Thus I felt highly inspired and encouraged to receive an opportunity to share realizations and strong convictions.
"What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self- controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage."
The two cultures are as different as day and night - based on entirely opposite worldviews and goals in life, and ultimately incompatible. This day-night principle accompanies us through various aspects of devotional life: What is success in spiritual life is regarded as weakness and failure in material life. For example, the qualities of tolerance, shyness and chastity are highly important qualities within devotional practice, whereas for a materialist they are seen as undesirable. Furthermore, the attitude within these two cultures towards various sections of society are entirely opposite: for example towards the elderly, children and mothers.
Between the "day of the materialist" and the "day of the spiritualist" is a broad spectrum of all kinds of shades and mixtures. Krishna consciousness is meant to bring about a transformation, so the day of the materialist eventually becomes night to us. We are meant to transform our likes/dislikes, tastes, world views, patterns of behaviour - our very heart, so that bhakti can grow. Our mundane conditioning is very subtle and deep - it truly requires a paradigm shift! However, this transformation cannot be imposed or forced upon people - it can only be inspired.
The first step in spiritual education is to teach sambhanda jnana - our basic philosophy. Now we require to move to the next level by offering systematic training and education, how to practically live our philosophy in our daily life. Such cultural education will give insights into our Vaishnava culture as being Krishna's system, which He gives us to establish stability and harmony in our life, so we can develop our relationship with Him. It will empower our devotees to make a conscious choice, how much of which culture they want to invite into their lives.
If this education is not offered, devotees may "go with the flow" and accept all kinds of modern trends into their lives, seeing them as progressive and trendy - not realising that they promote the opposite world view which we don't want to cultivate. We may encounter the danger of watering down the process of Krishna consciousness, and the spiritual strength may get lost.
The following are practical examples where education is highly required:
* Family life as an ashrama. We are not there yet - our high divorce rate confirms this fact!
* The Vanaprastha ashrama. It is not established!
* Our children are our future! We still maintain the immature understanding that children are a distraction and burden!
We can conclude that a Vaishnava society will not be able to sustain without cultural education....!
To watch the entire presentation please see the second presentation on the video below.