On my arrival the gardenias were in season, and the Deities were offered opulent garlands and flower decorations, their heavenly aroma wafting through the temple room. Even though it was early spring, the temperatures already climbed up the thermometer, and the midday-sun was burning with full strength. The climate and vegetation reminded me of Queensland in Australia.
I was invited to give a SB class and two evening presentations on the topic of the false ego being our constant companion and troublemaker, concluding with a third session as a house-program in one of the congregational members' homes. It was a great pleasure for me to get the association of many elevated Vaishnavas and build relationships. The discussions were well received, and devotees expressed their appreciation.
I was impressed how expertly the devotional topics were combined with academic learning, so that the children were genuinely inspired to actively participate and make their contributions. It seems an almost ideal way to find a good balance between the various teaching methods, and intertwining material education with spiritual knowledge.
"Our leaders shall be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic service, which is individual and spontaneous and voluntary. They should try always to generate some atmosphere of fresh challenge to the devotees, so that they will agree enthusiastically to rise and meet it. That is the art of management: to draw out spontaneous loving spirit of sacrificing some energy for Krishna. But where are so many expert managers? All of us should become expert managers and preachers. We should not be very much after comforts and become complacent or self-contented. There must be always some tapasya, strictly observing the regulative principles — Krishna Consciousness movement must be always a challenge, a great achievement to be gained by voluntary desire to do it, and that will keep it healthy. So you big managers now try to train up more and more some competent preachers and managers like yourselves. Forget this centralizing and bureaucracy."
Even though Prabhupada gave this instruction in regards to training adults, nevertheless the same principle can also be applied to the children: rather than forcing them to learn so many things which they may not be interested in and may never be relevant to their lives, we have to be careful not to kill the spirit of enthusiastic learning, which is individual, spontaneous and voluntary. The atmosphere of a fresh challenge also has to be created in the classroom, which I could certainly perceive when visiting the school in New Raman Reti.
I also had an opportunity to visit the well-known artist Pushkar Prabhu and his good wife in their home. His beautiful paintings are used in many of the BBT publications - wonderful windows into the spiritual world....!
My visit to New Raman Reti was the highlight on my tour around the United States - the cherry on the cake!
After spending the following weekend in nearby Tampa and Orlando, offering further programs and the Sunday feast lecture, I flew back to Germany on the 14th of May.....
Your servant, Devaki dd