We introduced the topic at the Sunday feast lecture and continued to churn the nectar over two more evenings during the following week. Discussing the required qualifications in order to be able to give shelter to others is always especially important. It gives us a clear understanding who is a suitable person to take shelter of, and at the same time we receive insights which qualities we have to cultivate in order to qualify ourselves to eventually reach out to others and give shelter. Unless we reach the point of having a genuine and selfless concern for other devotees' spiritual growth our life remains superficial, and we remain self-centered - a kanistha adhikari. Once we deeply value the gift of Krishna consciousness, how much it has transformed our life, we should feel a burning desire to assist others in their spiritual development. It is a very natural progression within spiritual practice - a beginning sign of compassion for others. I have observed that very often senior grhasthas feel somewhat at a loss how they can serve and contribute within a community. To aspire to give shelter and guidance to younger devotees is a very important and highly rewarding mission, which at the same time helps us to move forward in our own spiritual development. To serve the devotees is the secret of success in spiritual progress, and what better way to serve than giving shelter, guidance and inspiration! It also brings about an intense churning process of our anarthas, which are coming to the surface through this process of giving and accepting shelter. Subtle motivations and material attachments are being exposed.
The devotees kept me busy with further sangas: a house program, a SB class in the temple, and a question-answer session for the ladies of the congregation. It had been well spent time in quality association - new relationships were established, and existing ones deepended.
Interesting to note that sravanam kirtanam has to be the very foundation to any project within Krishna consciousness - on the individual level of a family, a collective level of several families planning a project, and on the level of an entire yatra. If this foundation is not solidly established, whatever we try to build up will collapse sooner or later. When constructing a building, the foundation is the most important part and determines how high we can build. If the foundation is not strong, everything will collapse. We have had to experience this many times within our ISKCON society, on all levels. I know several instances, where devotees got together to establish a village community, but since sravanam kirtanam was not the foundation to the project, conflicts were arising, and eventually everything fell apart. Even major conflicts within a community can again be brought back to lack of sravanam kirtanam. Hearing and chanting focusses everyone's mind on service to Krishna. Unless this common focus is there, everyone will be situated in self-interest, which ultimately leads to clashes and conflicts. Going back to the very roots of sravanam kirtanam in the association of devotees will lead to success - individually and collectively.
Even though Murari Gupta Prabhu and his family do not have so much devotee association on a regular basis, their deep meditation on receiving the Vaishnavas for special events keeps them in high Krishna conscious spirit. They have a big garden where they grow vegetables - to serve the devotees when they visit. And thus the atmosphere during our retreat was surcharged with the spirit of Vaishnava hospitality in a selfless mood of service. They are well known for their tasty prasadam prepared with love and devotion....!
On the 20th of September I moved on to Riga/Latvia.........
Your servant, Devaki dd