A mentor should be able to give balanced advice according to time, place and circumstance. The process of devotional service requires a fine balance, since it is very scientific. If the various ingredients are not applied in the right dose, our result may be a different one. A mentor has to be balanced himself in order to be able to help his mentee to find the right balance in life. We can only give to others what we ourselves possess. A mentor has to strike a good balance between material needs and spiritual needs, between practical service and his own personal practice of sadhana. And he has to administer the right balance to his mentee in a very personal way. The approach of 'one size fits everyone' will not be helpful in all situations. A mentor has to balance being strict on one side with being liberal and flexible on the other side, without compromising the underlying principles of spiritual practice. And at the same time he has to recognize the next step up for each and every person. It is an art which requires maturity and genuine compassion towards our inferiors.
A mentor should not have the tendency for taking extreme and controversial positions on issues. He should not be a fundamentalist with a kanistha mentality and tendencies towards fanaticism. To have tendencies for extremes indicates that a person is not balanced. Furthermore, his false ego demands the gratification of being special and unique. In order to receive this kind of satisfaction he may take to extreme and controversial positions-just to be different than others and stand out: "Look at me! I am superior and see things differently!" And he eagerly defends his extreme and controversial position, getting caught up in ego battles.
There is a nice definition of fanaticism: 'If our enthusiasm is not guided by a higher intelligence than our own, we become fanatic.' While we are affected by the three modes of material nature, our enthusiasm is not pure but mixed with the mode of passion and motivated by the influence of false ego. And our own intelligence will be affected by these influences and thus will not be a good advisor. This leads to the phenomena of being fanatic. Therefore we need a higher intelligence than our own to guide us-an intelligence which ideally should not be affected by false ego.
Any valuable aspect of Krishna consciousness can be turned into fanaticism. Book distribution or harinama are a common example of this occurence. They are very important aspects of preaching and very dear to Srila Prabhupada. The false ego likes to take advantage of them by proclaiming: 'Everybody has to be out there eight hours a day! Otherwise you are not a sincere devotee! These activities are so great and important, and since I am the only one who recognizes this, therefore I am so great and important!' With such consciousness the false ego has the power to poison such valuable services, as they are used for our own glorification and gratification rather than Krishna's and Srila Prabhupada's pleasure. Purity is the force. Such poisonous mentality attracts others of the same mentality, who also aspire to use aspects of the process of devotional service for their own glorification and recognition. Thus such fanatic leaders may even establish their own so-called parampara within our ISKCON society.
Obviously a person with such tendencies is not qualified to be a shelter giver.
On the 1st of June I flew back to California......
Your servant, Devaki dd