How do we decide which of our emotions are material and which are spiritual?
Transcribed by: Geetanjali Nath
Question: Hare Krishna, how do we decide which of our emotions are material and which are spiritual, it is said that we have to give up material emotions and develop spiritual emotions. But often it is difficult to decided that a particular emotion, is it a material and spiritual as mixture or how do we actually decide?
Answer: Rather than worrying about a particular emotion whether is material or spiritual, we should focus whether it is anukul or pratikul, whether it is favorable or unfavorable for bhakti, and accordingly we will decide how to deal with that emotions. Sometimes when we start rejecting all emotions that are material, then we can come off as very hard hearted, not just appear a hard hearted to people , we can even end up becoming hard hearted. so for example, if a young boy becomes a devotee and goes back home and then the mother wants to embrace, and then the mother is not a devotee. Now, is now the mother’s love for the son material? Or the son’s love for the mother material ? . Now at one level we can say that it is material. But that is not the important thing. Our philosophy is not meant to dehumanize and depersonalize our relationships, it is meant to spiritualize our relationships, So we should focus on what is anukul and what is pratikul. And if our parents start thinking that because of becoming a Hare Krishna, my son has become very hard hearted, then she will become , our parents will become hostile towards our bhakti and that will be pratikul for their bhakti, for their spiritual progress it will be unavoidable and their hostility will also be unfavorable for our devotional service. So that’s why we don’t have to get into paranoia about what is material and what is spiritual , we should focus on what is anukul and what is pratikul. And if there is somebody is giving a class and in the class there is a joke. now, should we think that oh! if I laugh , is it material or is it spiritual. Do not get into a paralysis by analysis, it is a joke and have a good laugh, there is nothing wrong in that. So that way our focus would always be on how can I best serve Krishna and the service to Krishna does not have to be explicitly directly devotional activity, like coming to temple and worshiping the deities or doing some service, but it can also be indirect. Where we are creating positive impressions about Krishna and giving agyat sckruti to people, sawing seeds of bhakti in others by giving them the positive perception of bhakti. So the important thing is , to recognize the results of , to see things from the long term perspective, not just from the external form. we should focus on whatever is anukul to our bhakti and accept that. Now within our material emotions. There is apara DHARMA and there is ADHARMA, so for example , for a man to be attracted to a women other than ones wife is Adharma, but for a man to feel affectionate towards ones wife is not Adharma. it is part of dharma. and in the Vedic culture , now it is often portrait as if , sometimes simplistically as admirer, but that is a misleading understanding. now for a women , man can also be admirer, so it is basically anything which takes us away from Krishna, but it is also understood that women are , especially women who is a family member, the mainly the wife of the house , she is often treated , in the vedic culture, as Laxmi. So now that is also not a wrong understanding. but it is seen in the proper philosophical context. Therefore, we should not bother too much about whether these emotions are material or spiritual. We should focus more on whether they are anukul or pratikul to our devotion. And our normal human relationship that is there, they should not be obstructed by our philosophy, they should be expanded and elevated by our bhakti. So of course some people who are hostile to our devotional service, we may have to keep a distance from them so as to protect our bhakti, but we should not assume that people are going to be hostile and we shouldn’t just do activities which are going to make them hostile, then we can’t blame their hostility on them, it is we who are to be blamed for their hostility. So therefore focus on his behaving in a way that would be expected in normal relationships and focusing further in behaving in a way specially when it comes to devotional activity, or activity connected with th34 devotional service, behave in a way which helps people come closer to Krishna. Therefore our focus should be on practicing on being a , we want to be transcendental, but to go to the transcendence we too have to come to goodness, so a person in goodness is sensitive, is respectful , is courteous, is polite and all those are not rejected as material emotions, they are accepted as parts of the cultured behavior, which is essential for th3 practice of bhakti. Now when Shrila Prabhupada was asked to define who is a devotee , Prabhupada, did not go about saying that who is remembering Krishna constantly, one is uttering Hare Krishna Mahamantra constantly. Prabhupada said that you can mark my disciples by that, they are perfect gentlemen and ladies. So now, was Prabhupada was infusing the word “:gentlemen” with some mystical meaning, that only a pure devotee is gentleman or only a devotee is a gentleman ? No , Prabhupada was using it in a normal sense, where he said that , devotee is a culture. So gentlemen are those who are cultured people as are ladies. So in our normal day to day dealings we should strive for satvaguna and knowing that satvaguna is anukul to bhakti, and not let the paranoia about material emotions, paranoia means that irrational fear of certain emotions being material, we should not let that paranoia adversely effect our normal human dealings with others. Thank you.