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Remembereing to Bring Krishna along to Court

I try to have a smiling attitude in all circumstances remembering my great good fortune of taking up the path of Bhakti. I endeavor to ask myself, "how can I use this situation for my good, what can I learn from this, and how can I help others". Even though we are small devotees our well-wishing and prayers for others are good for them and for us. I pray to be a cause of benefit to others in all my interactions.

A month ago I was stopped at a checkpoint by a deputy who was looking to see if drivers were up to date with their vehicle registration. Ops, I wasn't. Somehow we didn't receive our usual notification, so I was given a ticket and court date. O well, such is life. This morning at 8AM I walked into the court building to find about 200 people in line.

Americans are not the best at waiting in line, and many were not all that happy. Well, it wasn't my idea of a great morning either, but how to make the best of the situation? In general, Prabhupada advises us to make the best use of the bad bargain of material existence and we can apply that to what may appear as less then an ideal situation.

When I was first a devotee living in ISKCON temples there was a real culture of "us and them", or we are devotees and they are "karmis" (non-devotees)---or we are good, they are bad and contaminating. This was our youthful interpretation of associating with devotees, and avoiding non-devotees.

I think it was helpful in the beginning to give us a foothold in our sadhana or spiritual practices and faith in Krishna. In the long run though, it made material dealings and interactions with ordinary people more difficult then they needed to be. There was a real sense of duality and it separated us from our own humanity and the humanity of others.

We know in theory that we are eternal souls who are part of Krishna, yet we shouldn't deny we have a physical body, or just hate it. We should take note of the body's liabilities, yet it is meant to be our vehicle for service. Despite its' many short comings, the human body is glorified as a good boat for crossing the ocean of material existence, combined with the breeze of Vedic knowledge, and our guru captain. Tilak (sacred clay markings worn by Vaishnavas) on our body reminds us that our body is meant to be a Temple for the Lord of our hearts. Our body used for service becomes spiritualized and blessed!

When we lived in the ashram many of us would preach that you could be Krishna conscious living outside a Temple community, though we didn't really believe it. We felt Krishna consciousness existed in the Temple, and Maya was "outside". Some of us had a real dread and fear of "the world", and for me as a young devotee it was difficult even to go the supermarket or to have an ordinary conversation! Sometimes devotees would not tell someone who asked what time it was, because they would just use that information for sense gratification.

To be honest the early Temples fostered what has been labeled as a "cult" mentality. I see this now as an initial stage of spiritual development where one has to protect their tender faith. At some point we have to go beyond this stage of being so dependent on externals, and advance to mature faith and realization, internalizing our Krishna consciousness so we can "be in the world, but not off it".

This doesn't mean we don't prefer to associate with Godly devotees, but it does mean feeling connected to the earth and all life, seeing the Earth as Krishna's energy and living entities as part of Krishna. As souls and human beings we have much in common. As devotees we want to always remember Krishna, and at the same time to try to be a cause of upliftment for others----even standing in line at court in at the market.

In one sense there are no ordinary activities or coming together of people. People and circumstances are sent by Krishna to help us remember him and choose to be of service.

I try to have a smiling attitude in all circumstances remembering my great good fortune of taking up the path of Bhakti. I endeavor to ask myself, "how can I use this situation for my good, what can I learn from this, and how can I help others". Even though we are small devotees our well-wishing and prayers for others are good for them and for us. I pray to be a cause of benefit to others in all my interactions.

Standing in line I chanted the Hare Krishna mantra in my mind and I observed the sea of humanity. The old, youth, mothers and fathers with children, people fat and thin, black and white, good karma types or bad, smiles, frowns, etc. I am a devotee who has many different values then many of them, yet I am also one with them as a human being, standing in line in court, with those who believe in serving God, and as a soul. I have to be fully present in my body and in the world, yet remembering Krishna and the teachings my gurus.

Prabhupada taught this by his example. He was fully present in the world to notice a light bulb burned out in a chandelier, a bird nest above a light, or spider web, yet he was fully Krishna conscious and saw Krishna in everything and every situation. That is our challenge on the path of bhakti. We are not meant to be neglectful in our ordinary dealings, yet we have to always remember Krishna.

One of the offenses to the holy name----besides offending great devotees---is to offend ordinary people. The means practicing thoughtfulness, kindness and compassion with others. That will do more to attract people to Krishna then just our words. Of course there is a place for sharing KC philosophy, yet we hear that example is better than precept. Not that I am only Krishna conscious at the Temple, but I am angry or disrespectful at court or in our everyday life.

Our family, work, and so-called ordinary life is the testing ground for most of us in our Krishna consciousness. How much have we realized and are able to put into practice? Where is our faith and what are our attachments? Can we find Krishna in court!

Combined comments from old site

Fri, 06/13/2008 - 19:32 — abhishek108

Awesome article Prabhiji!
Many of my questions were solved

Fri, 06/13/2008 - 14:18 — MahaVishnu
A great day in court!

This is one of the most enlightened posts that I have ever read on this forum!

This movement as a society has had growing pains, just as an individual has growing pains in their personal development.

These things should be talked about - its the only way!

Thanks for the reference to Prabhupada on the subject of life situations! I personally need to think about Prabhupada constantly, not only what he said, but how he acted in the world, its very important for people who never met him to know how he acted in life situations!!!

Great post Karnamrita.das - it has healing properties!


Fri, 06/13/2008 - 07:01 — Snehal
Oppurtunity in everything

Hare Krisna!

I agree to what you say here. Every situation good or bad is an oppurtunity to remember Krisna. In unfavaourable situation we take shelter of the Lotus feet and in good situations we humbly thank Him. Thus we can remember Him wherever and however we are.

You have very rightly said being thoughtful, compassionate and kind to othes will attract them to Krisna. So I am trying hard to always remember that the person I am dealing with is part and parcel of Krisna. Having this outlook in my dealings with others help me to remain kind, thoughtful and compassionate towards them. Also understanding that all of us are conditioned and prone to commit mistakes helps me to avoid any ill or hard feeling for someone who has done wrong.

And so I think I am trying to be in this world dealing with all types of people yet being KC at the same time.