On my arrival I could give my body a couple of days' rest in order to adjust to the different climate and time zone.
Once after offering this seminar, a senior mataji shared the following with me: "Now I realize that I actually have this false ego! I always thought this is just some philosophical and technical thing - I never knew I actually have this!" Yes, often we are so unconscious of these subtleties...
In order to cultivate the mood of being a humble and insignificant servant of the servant, Krishna gives us various rules of Vaishnava etiquette which support such cultivation. One of them is, that a Vaishnava does not seek glorification and recognition. In fact, he shies away from any situation where he is praised since it gives him a certain discomfort, thinking: "If they would only know how much dirt is in my heart, they would not speak like this." Of course, whenever glorification is offered, a Vaishnava always humbly passes on the glory to his guru, Srila Prabhupada and Krishna, seeing himself simply as a tiny insignificant tool in Their hands, never taking credit for himself. We also have the statement: "He who glorifies us is our enemy, and whoever criticizes and chastises us is our real friend". Praise easily feeds our false ego, and we may think: "Finally everybody hears what great service I am doing, and what a surrendered and pure devotee I am!"
Since the false ego is such a strong motivating force - so much more than the desire to please Krishna and the Vaishnavas - we may easily fall into the habit of offering ego satisfaction to devotees, hoping that this will motivate them further to continue their service. We may like to praise them for their service in the presence of the entire community, desiring to offer appreciation. But instead we may boost their false egos. Sometimes devotees may even get upset, if their name is not mentioned, even though they also were involved in important services. We can understand this to be an alarming sign. Let us remember that we want to bring devotees to the point, where they feel uncomfortable hearing their glories chanted. We don't want to forever nourish the tendency of running after ego satisfaction!
If Krishna is pleased with our service - what else do we need in order to be satisfied?! We will feel a deep joy and satisfaction in our heart, which comes about as a reciprocation with Krishna Himself. Then we don't need to hear our glories chanted.
There is an art of glorifying and appreciating devotees, so it does not feed their false egos. Naturally, the bigger the audience is who hears our praise, the more it may feed our ego. If we are glorified in front of hundreds of people, it may blow up our ego more than being praised in the presence of a small number of persons. Sometimes, our ways of appreciating devotees may rather become mechanical and almost institutionalized, and it may lack the personal, honest and sincere touch. I myself rather like to offer appreciation to devotees in a private way, expressing to them my sincere gratitude for their service. I find such kind of offering to be sweeter, coming truly from our heart, rather than the public fanfare and shouting of "haribol". We may also 'season' our expressions of appreciation with some little suggestions how to further improve the service, which is another sign of being a true well-wishing friend, trying to assist devotees in moving forward by improving themselves.
Sometimes, when giving a donation devotees prefer to remain anonymous in order to avoid their false ego being inflated. In a similar way, we may offer appreciation to a group of devotees, without mentioning their individual names. It encourages the team spirit, rather than the glories of an individual. Furthermore, we can praise devotees in their absence, which is another way of avoiding to boost their egos.
Let us be more mindful of the subtleties which our attempts of encouraging devotees bring along. Let us act as a true well-wishing friend to others, by helping them to come to the level of purification where they feel uncomfortable hearing their glories chanted....!
On the 9th of April I moved on to Dallas/Texas......
Your servant, Devaki dd