For some years I had experienced a tense relationship with my mother, and little did I understand how I myself was contributing greatly to the situation. It was my false ego which did not allow me to accept her superior position as being my mother, and thus I did not treat her accordingly. Especially as a devotee and preacher, I thought myself to be superior, sometimes correcting or instructing her. And she could sense my faulty attitude and strongly objected to it.
Parents are elders who deserve to be respected, even if they are not practicing devotees. We have to learn the art of offering respect and service without answering back and trying to proof that we know better. It is a matter of false ego. Let her be right, because she is my mother - even if she might be wrong.....!
"One cannot follow incorrect orders of a superior but one should not show hostility towards him, using disrespectful or harsh words. One should put a stop to their improper behavior or instructions by using sweet words, humility, and gentle reasoning at the proper time.
Even if the superior makes a mistake, he should not be disrespected. A person should be careful to please superiors with polite and gracious conduct. To disobey the orders of superiors is also disrespect."
After understanding these instructions of Vaishnava etiquette more deeply, I have adjusted my behavior towards my mother, which has been purifying for me. Now I consciously practice within this relationship how to take the humble and subordinate position, letting her be right even if she may be wrong. It is not so important to me any longer. And our relationship has immediately improved and is indeed becoming sweeter with every meeting.
Every evening I read to her meaningful literature from thoughtful personalities of Christian background, and I was delighted to discover how many similarities there are to Krishna consciousness! Her favorite Christian writer is Anselm Gruen, who published several deep and thought-provoking books. One of them is all about longing for God. He states that a prayer without longing for God is not a prayer - it is merely lip-service. How profound! This reminds of Rupa Gosvami, who instructs us that the only qualification for pure bhakti is our greed for it - laulyam, which is nothing else but longing.
When I was a child, my mother used to sit at my bedside and read to me. Now we exchanged the roles, and I sat at her bedside reading to her about longing for God.....
And she was very grateful for such association.....
On the 23rd of May I traveled on to Zuerich/Switzerland....
Your servant, Devaki dd