While in Mumbai I distributed 24 copies of my book to some of the hospital staff I knew, and also to the devotees serving the ISKCON Desiretree website and having their work place at Vaishnavaseva Prabhu's home. Especially the young fellows and ladies were very keen to receive it!
I flew on to Bangalore, where I stayed for one week. For the first couple of days the devotees had arranged programs at the ICC temple (ISKCON Cultural Center): a ladies' program on the topic of "Being a Homemaker - Honor or Disgrace", and two evening programs on the need for sheltering relationships: one as a general program, and the second one for leaders and preachers only. All programs were well attended and eagerly received. More and more devotees are becoming increasingly aware of the need for sheltering relationships - a mentor, who can guide us as a confidential, well-wishing friend. Especially if the leaders and preachers show some interest in this topic, then there is some hope that the concept will be taken further and eventually implemented. I am looking forward to the moment when soon my next book will be published on this very topic!
I recall speaking once to a devotee who was getting herself repeatedly into conflicts and tensions based on her strong false ego. At some stage of our conversation I dared to give a little hint, remarking: "Yes, our false ego somehow always gets us into trouble....!" She laughingly responded: "Come on! False ego? What's that? I don't have that.....!" I was lost for words - simply flabbergasted, how a person so troubled by her false ego can indeed think she doesn't have one! How amazing! All I could think of answering to her was: "I wish I could say that....!"
This is exactly how the false ego works: it makes us blind to our own behavior. And because it is a rather subtle element, we easily miss it. As we become more purified, we realize how indeed it is always accompanying us, pushing us to say and do things which we should not say and do - demanding its satisfaction for being right, being superior, knowing better, etc. And since our false ego is so near and dear to us, we constantly defend it, protect it and feed it - and even massage it.....!
Our only hope is Vaishnava etiquette and culture. It is designed to make us more humble than a blade of grass. There are numerous instructions how we should conduct ourselves: not defending ourselves, not answering back to seniors, not seeking to bring attention to ourselves, etc. Unfortunately we are not even so mindful of these subtle aspects of culture and etiquette, and thus we may easily maintain our ego-driven patterns of behavior.
On Sunday evening I was invited to conduct a little outreach program where I met a friend and collegue of Peter Burwash. He had come to Bangalore to teach tennis at a college, and some devotees met him on a harinam and invited him to attend the program. We connected briefly, and he shared his life story: He had been initiated by Ramesvara and had been disconnected from ISKCON for many years. It was a nice exchange, and he seemed inspired to get back into Krishna consciousness. We may try to forget Krishna, but He never gives up on us.....
On the 6th of December I flew on to Coimbatore.....
Your servant, Devaki dd