From Grudging to Gratitude 4 – Forgiving internally and externally by focusing on Krishna
Transcription of summary
So, I will be going towards the last phase of our session, and I will talk now about forgiveness and gratitude.. So, to retrace the journey quickly what we did was, we discussed in the first session how resentment is harmful for us. In the second session we discussed how pinning down the cause of suffering is very difficult. We shouldn’t obsess with the immediate cause. Then we discussed about how Krishna is the person…. how we can go beyond… while we should not sit down and focus on the immediate cause. At the same time we shouldn’t either neglect the immediate cause. We focus on taking shelter of Krishna, and whatever the problem we are facing by taking shelter of Krishna we will get relief. Then we had lot of questions and answers. Now I will focus on the themes of how to deal with the immediate cause.
So, when resentment comes… when we are resentful especially with respect to some person who has done something which has hurt us. Now forgiveness is often lotted?1.26 as a virtue, and the Bhagavatam talks about how important it is for us to forgive. Forgiveness is a defining quality of a brahmanical person, the Bhagavatam says. At the same time we have to really understand what forgiveness means and what it doesn’t mean. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that we just press a delete button in our brain and forget all the wrongs that they had done. Forgiving and trusting are two different things. Forgiving is for the past. Trust is for the future. Forgiveness can be given, but trust has to earned. If somebody has hurt us, if we again trusting them again they may hurt us and if we uncritically trust people we can set up ourselves for a lot of unnecessary pain. So, forgiveness is for the past. That means, whatever has happened… ‘Ok this person did this and because of this, this went wrong, Ok that chapter is over, and I won’t hold that in my mind constantly.’
Now I will talk a little bit more about what it means to forgive also, but clearly differentiate that forgiving and trusting are two different things. If somebody has hurt us we just can’t automatically trust him, we will naturally observe how this person behaves, is this person really trustworthy? And that person has to work to earn that trust.
So, I will start with first internal aspect of forgiveness, and the second is, we will look at the external aspect of this. The internal aspect of forgiveness means that we let go off resentment against the person. ‘Ok, this person did this to me and it hurt me directly but it’s over now. So, you did that and now I don’t want to hold that against you. I won’t let that come in the way of my moving forward in my life. Not necessarily moving forward in that relation, but we will talk about that particular relationship later, but forgiving means that we just let the past stay in the past.
Now in our computer we have some files that we don’t need, then we can just remove it. There is no delete function in our memory. So, if somebody has hurt us we can’t just delete that memory, but forgiving means… forgiving creates a new way of remembering the hurt. Now, when in the past if we had not forgiven and we remember that hurt we still feel angry or sick, we feel wronged, we feel violated, we feel betrayed, but when we forgive we just let go. That incident is still there, that memory is still there, but once we let go… it is almost like, Ok it happened to me but it was in the distant past. Basically we are…when we are not forgiven, when we are resentful, then we are still emotionally locked in that, and when we are emotionally locked in it, then we are emotionally available for other things, for other relationships, for a relationship with Krishna, but you say, ‘Ok this chapter is over now.’ You just release those pent up emotions. When we do that, just remember, ‘This thing happened in my life, at that time it was painful but now it is over. So, usually many times when we talk about these things, about forgiveness, is it an emotion or is it a decision? Is it an emotion I feel or is it is a decision? Actually it is both…
In the Bhagavat Gita, Krishna talks about the austerity of the mind.
bhāva-saṁśuddhir ity etat
tapo mānasam ucyate
So, there He says, satisfaction is an austerity of the mind. What does it mean that satisfaction is an austerity of the mind. That means that, you may say, ‘I am feeling satisfied… I am not feeling satisfied.’ So, we may say that satisfaction is just an emotion that experience. Yes, it is true that satisfaction is an emotion that we experience, but satisfaction is also a decision that we take. Now if I look at all the things that are right in my life, I will be satisfied. But if look at all the things that are wrong in my life, I will be dissatisfied. So, depending on what I look at, I will be satisfied or dissatisfied.
So, similarly satisfaction can be a decision. ‘Ok this is what I have got and I will focus on this.’ In general when we think of satisfaction or for that matter forgiveness it is both an emotion and decision. So, it’s a decision. ‘I am not going to hold any resentment against this person. That chapter in my life is over. I …06.55…57… (inaudible). When this happens, the emotions that are locked in it, sometimes you may have to consciously pull them out and invest them somewhere else, and if we just make that decision, sometimes as a matter of …07.07…(inaudible) When we remember something we feel so much anger, we feel so much pain, but as we start practicing bhakti, as we start connecting with Krishna, as we start getting purified, when we remember that… it is like an incident from a past life, but we are not so emotionally locked in it. So, we don’t get so emotionally worked up about it.
So, as I said these decisions we have to take. If we don’t take those decisions, then what is going to happen? Then the emotion of forgiveness will never come. Just like say, if I got a scratch on my body. Now if that would is there, that rash is there, as long as I keep scratching, it is going to go worse. After I stop scratching there is a chance that it will recover. So, like that whatever happened in the past, if I keep remembering it and If I keep resenting it, then that would is never going to heal. The wound is there, but if we just make a decision, ‘Enough. This chapter in my life is over.’ Then we move onward in my life. Krishna has blessed me with a better life in my life, and I am going to move onwards. Krishna is so much more waiting for me in my life. So, let me not get locked in the past. Let me be open to what He is giving me. So, when we take that decision, we gradually facilitate the awakening of that emotion. So, forgiveness is a decision. To let go off resentment. Gradually that resentment will go away.
Now with respect to practicalities… internal aspect of forgiveness is that you let go off resentment… with externals what do we do? There will be… as I said forgiving and trusting are two different things. So, usually there will be a phase, when we forgive but we don’t trust, and then we observe, then depending on how that person behaves that person may earn our trust, and then we may forgive and forget that thing. ‘I will never bring it up, it is over now.’ Sometimes that person may continue to behave the same way, or sometimes he may get aggravated. When that happens, then we realize that this is… I need external actions, and then we may have to take some external rectificatory actions that is required.
I will give some examples for this. I have a three part seminar on forgiveness. So, I won’t go into that. This 9.42 the scriptural story and I presume that most of you know the stories. I won’t go into the details.
There is the story in the Ramayana, that how after Ravana was killed… Bibhisan, he said that, ‘I can’t perform the last rights of cremation of Ravana.’ So, all his family was killed, Bibhisan was the only rother. At that time Ram said, ‘The soul is pure, whatever sin he has done, now that’s cleansed off that. Now you should perform …10.14… Then the soul move on the next destination. So, now that he has got the due punishment for what he has done… he is dead, don’t hold grudges against the dead.’ So, Ram asked Bibhishan to let go, to forgive whatever he has done, but this forgiveness doesn’t mean that Ram just let Ravana to get away with that 10.38 (inaudible)… he should be punished. So, in this case Ravana was incorrigible. Ravana was completely incorrigible. So, Ram forgave in principle… told Bibhisan, ‘give up the negativity.’, but Ram sent Hanuman as a messenger, Angad went as a messanger, Bibhisan gave good advices, so many gave good advice but Ravana had no interest. Then he had to be punished for that.
Now other example is of Vasudev. So, here there is a person who forgave but there is a strong external action against the person. On the other hand, the other example could be, ‘You forgive but do not trust, and watch what happens.’ So, Kamsa killed six of the children of Devaki, and then after the… when the eight child was born, and he turned out to be a female, and it turned out to be the goddess, he was alarmed, ‘What happened….’ he almost had a change of heart. He said, ‘A goddess is born from Devaki, that means that she is a special woman.’ And he actually seeks forgiveness, ‘Actually I didn’t kill. It because of their past karma only they were killed. Don’t hold me responsible, please forgive me.’ Now, Vasudev and Devaki forgave him. That’s what the Bhagavatam says, but Vasudev did not trust him. He didn’t tell him, ‘Actually you know Krishna is born, and he is in Vrindavan.’ He did not tell that. Because he had to wait and watch, how genuine was his change of heart, and eventually it turned out that the change of heart of Kamsa was not at all genuine. Eventually when he came to know that Krishna was still living, he sent so many demons to kill Krishna. Then eventually Krishna came and killed Kamsa. So, in this case Vasudev forgave but did not trust, did not hold that resentment. He was ready to…ok, it is over, but it was his saintliness that he was ready to forgive even that. Though it was a grievous offense, but he was ready to forgive. But forgiving and trusting are two different things.
Third example we have is of Vidura and Dhrtarastra. Now Vidura was the younger brother, and Dhrtarastra time and time again… Vidura tried to advice Dhrtarastra to stop antagonising the Pandavas. Dhrtarastra never listened. At one particular point, Dhrtarastra got so angry with Vidura, he said Vidura, ‘You are always against my son, and you are in favour of Pandu’s son. I don’t want to hear what you want to say. Go wherever you want.’
So, this happened just after the Pandavas had been exiled. So, at that time Vidura left. Vidura actually went and joined the Pandavas, where they were staying in the forest, and then afterwards Dhrtarastra had a change of heart and he said, ‘Though my brother was always a well-wisher. He always gave me good advice, why did I send him away? So, he sent Sanjay, ‘Please call Vidura back.’ Now Vidura came back, because Vidura saw that Dhrtarastra himself was not a bad person, he was attached to a bad person. Detachment to a bad person had… 14.14-15 (inaudible). So, felt that there is some hope for Vidura that he could be reformed.
Bibhisan, when he renounced the kingdom, then Ravana, he went to the opposite side and fought for Ram because he realized that Ravana has no hope of ever reforming. He fought against Ravana and he helped Ram attain Victory. Vidura he came back at this time, and again and again he gave would give good advice but he never listened, and just before the war, Duryodhana had grievously insulted Vidura, and now you know traditional culture are very very hierarchical.
So, you know generally for a younger person, for a junior to even speak against a senior is very bad, what to speak of a junior person to speak insult to a senior in public. So, Duryodhana was one generation lower and he publicly insulted Vidura, and Vidura it was not just Duryodhana’s words that hurt, Its also actually Dhritarastra’s silence that hurt.
Now sometimes the harsh words of our opponents don’t hurt us as much as the silence of our friends. So, he had reason to be angry with Dhirtarastra. He just walked away at that time. But then he did not hold it against him. Eventually when Duryodhana was killed… all the hundred sons of Dhrtarastra were killed, the Dhrtarastra’s attachment was gone. Now Dhrtarastra had to lose everything before he lost his blindness. He was blinded by his attachment to his son, and he had to use all his sons, he had to lose everything before lost his attachment, and then Vidura came back, Vidura did not hold it against Dhrtarastra… ‘You insulted me like this, you remained silent like this and insulted me….’ Nothing like that. Vidura when he came, he just spoke direct spiritual message and helped Dhrtarastra to 16.30… So, in this case what happened is, Vidura forgave, and he forgave Dhritarastra although Dhritrarasta had insulted him, rejected him, remained silent when he had been insulted. Vidura did not hold it against him, but he helped him. He was there to help him. Why? Because he felt that Dhrtarastra could change, and Dhrtarastra did change, and eventually both of them attained liberation.
So, here the main point I would like to make in this discussion is that how we deal with a person… forgiving can be done by one person, but reconciling has to be done by two people. So, when we reconcile with someone that person has to have the willingness to change, to improve… Now all this of course is assuming that the other person done something wrong and they deserved to be forgiven or we are considering their forgiveness. Sometimes we ourselves may have done something wrong, and we may not downplay it. That is a whole complex subject of 17.37… resolution. We are simply focussing right now on…. on the simple situation where the other person has done something wrong and whether to forgive them and whether to mourn in our life. Now, as I said firstly internal forgiveness helps us to mourn with our own life, irrespective of that particular relationship, and without that internal forgiveness we can’t move on in that relationship and we can’t move on in that life… in our life also. We just stay stuck mentally. So, we just let go, and with that forgiveness we can move on in that particular relationship.
Now we can morn in our life, and how to move on in that particular relationship, that will vary.
So, usually we have to assess what that persons nature is, what that persons consciousness is, what that person’s level of remorse is. These are not something which are easy to assess, and that is why the major relationship decisions shouldn’t be taken too emotionally. Emotions are important, very important in our life, but emotions should never be made the sole arbiters of our decision making. We have to have our emotions and we have to evaluate those emotions in the light of dharma. So, in the light of what is going to elevate us and what is going to degrade us.
So, if somebody has… sometimes there is a mistake that is being made, but there is a… all of a sudden… the person has normally a good character, they are nice people but suddenly they slip, it may be a big mistake, and it has hurt us but if it is just a one of thing, then there is no need to hold that up against the person and beat that person throughout life with that. We all commit mistakes. Sometimes some of us commit bigger mistakes than others. So, we need to be understanding. What is the understanding… just as you know past karma comes upon as suffering. Sometimes say past karma comes upon us as…. suddenly things go wrong or that thing goes wrong, our health goes down, we meet with an accident or whatever. Past karma can come as external problems. Similarly, past karma can also come sometimes as internal passions. Suddenly a person may get lusty, suddenly a person may become greedy, suddenly a person may become angry, and that is just….. sometimes for no reason from this life’s perspective a person just appears completely out of character, and if that is just a one time sin… ok.. there will always be some residual doubt in our heart, but you don’t have to hold that against anyone, but you know if one time a person does wrong, and we forgive, so that is good. If the person is doing the same mistake again and again, each time they are hurting us grievously, then the thing is that, we may well be… we may just be…. in the name of forgiveness we may be empowering their wrong doing. That means if somebody is doing something wrong again and again and they know that we are going to forgive, that we are going to overlook at it, what happens, we are just making that wrong again and again.
So, then sometimes we just have to take a strong position, ‘I know I love you too much to let this go on.’, he will say, ‘No you don’t love me enough, that is why you are not forgiving me.’, ‘No, I love you so much that I cannot let this go on, because this is path which is dangerous for you.’ So, sometimes we may have to take a strong stand, and that strong stand is not exactly unforgiving. The forgiveness as I said… the internal feeling of not… you know like resentment is good, but the external how we act… we have to understand that… actually we are in a relationship with others, and we have duties in the relationships. The other people also have duties in the relationships, and if the other person is repeatedly hurting us again and again, then we have to focus on our relationship with Krishna, and we have to make sure that we keep moving towards Krishna. This doesn’t mean that we trivialise our relationships, but we should not let any relationship dominate our consciousness so much that we are just not able to function in our life, we are not able to function in our journey towards Krishna, or function in our routine life also. So, at that time… if you look at the.. the way the scriptures talk about this… there are ksatriyas and there are brahmanas. Brahmanas are not managers. So, brahamanas are encouraged to forgive. Whatever happens just forgive, but ksatriyas are not encouraged to forgive. Ksastriyas duty is to punish. If a thief has robbed a person, the king starts forgiving. If the police start forgiving criminals, that will be terrible. Always a system of justice is required. So, now when we come to… there has to be… forgiveness can and should be individual virtue, but forgiveness is never a social virtue. In terms of social administration there has to be justice and justice means, wrong doings have to be punished.
So, generally what is the purpose of punishment? When somebody is being punished, what is the purpose. Actually broadly speaking there are three purposes. One is through the punishment, it is demonstrated to people in general, this action has this consequence. Justice is not to be done… justice is not just to be done, justice should also be seen to be done. People realize that if I do this wrong, this consequence will come. So, this if for the education for the people in general that the wrong doers will be punished. Secondly, it is for the individual also to bear the consequences of what wrong we have done, and it for the hurt person to recognize that their hurt is also taken seriously. So now, this is at a social level….when we are acting in our individual relationships… now generally we act at the brahminical platform. We don’t go to the ksatriya mode usually. There are family conflicts and they become very very… unbearable people may go to courts and try to resolve them in courts. It simply makes things worse. But, here when we are talking about interpersonal dealings, at that time the small infractions, we don’t have to hold them against people. Just mourn in our life, ‘Everybody is imperfect and everybody will commit some mistakes or the other.’ And now whether if somebody is repeatedly doing something… what am I to do with that situation? Am I just to walk away from that relationship and move on or am going to take action against the person. All these depends on the situation. All these depends on the situation, all these depends on the individual, what kind of wrong thing has been done, and the important principle in our spiritual life is that we want to focus on our relationship with Krishna, and sometimes as a service to Krishna we may try to do a particular thing. Sometimes we may feel, ‘I am not interested in these things. This chapter happened in my life. I have better things to do in my life.’
So, again going back to the earlier things, tolerating, changing or walking away, all these three can be modes of forgiving. Sometimes… ok, this is a small indiscretion, this a small mistake, let’s tolerate it and move on. Sometimes it can’t be tolerated. That is… it’s not that we don’t forgive the person, we forgive the person but we understand that if this behaviour is tolerated it will be repeated, and when it is repeated, that person may hurt again and again, not just me, other people also. Then some action has to be taken. Sometimes some disciplinary action may be pursued, but that can be done in a non-judging, in a non-resentful, non-revengeful mood.
In the Bhagavat Gita Krishna talks about how in the 11th chapter He reveals the Viswarup in which all the kauravas are entering into the mouth of the Viswarup and they are being destroyed. Basically what it is showing is that actually Krishna is…. that Krishna is showing that Arjuna you are going to be victorious in the war… and he was not going to be killed, and Krishna gives a clarion call to Arjuna…
Tasmat uttisya yasho labhasye….
tasmāt tvam uttiṣṭha yaśo labhasva
jitvā śatrūn bhuṅkṣva rājyaṁ samṛddham
mayaivaite nihatāḥ pūrvam eva
nimitta-mātraṁ bhava savya-sācin
Krishna says, ‘By my arrangement they are all killed. Just become an instrument in the fight. Attain victory. Enjoy prosperously.’
Krishna is telling Arjuna, ‘Fight over there.’
But then this is 11.33. 22 verses later, in 11.55, in the same Bhagavat Gita Krishna says, ‘Arjuna…
yaḥ sa mām eti pāṇḍava
He says, ‘Work for Me without animosity towards any living being, and if you work like this, this way you will come to me.’
So, that means Krishna is saying, ‘Fight Arjuna, but don’t fight with animosity.’ Yesterday I mentioned about how when somebody has hurt us, the snake has bitten us, the priority is not to get back at the snake. Our priority is to get safe. Don’t get back, get safe. Now I will extend that further… that was on a satwaguni level… I don’t want to hurt myself, but here we have to move forward… Our life is not meant to get back at others, our life is meant to get back to Krishna. We want to get back to Krishna, and in order to get back to Krishna we have to deal appropriately. If we keep the long term purpose of attaining Krishna in our mind at the forefront, then how to deal with the particular situation? We will learn in appropriately because Prabhupada writes in the tenth chapter… tenth chapter of the Bhagavat Gita, in the purports. He says, intelligence means to see things in their proper perspective. Intelligence means to see things in their proper perspective.. ‘This is so important, this is less important, this is not at all important.. So, we see things in proper perspective and then we decide how much time, how much energy to invest in what.
As devotees… it is especially in devotional relationships… it is good to be forgiving because as I said grudging hurts, and forgiving as an internal activity gives us a sense of relief by which we can move onwards, by which we can move closer to Krishna, and as far as externals are concerned, most of us we want to live a brahminical life. Some of us as managers in our movements… we are doing a ksatriya role at least… so, we may have to take appropriate disciplinary action and in the outside world we may have to fill particular roles, and we have to act accordingly to the roles. The unifying principle is the attitude of service. ‘Krishna I am Your servant. How best can I serve You in this situation?’ So, the whole principle of advancement in bhakti is all based on asking the right questions. When Srila Prabhupada was asked, ‘What is the best prayer that you can offer to Krishna?’, Prabhupada said, ‘Pray to Krishna, Please give me the strength to serve You. Krishna, how can I serve You?’ The How question is an extremely empowering question. In contrast the Why question is an extremely disempowering question.
Why.. why …why.. why did this happen… why did this go wrong…. the why question will cause us to get mentally paralysed. Many times in life the why question just… itself has no answer. So, as long as we are stuck with the why question… why, why, why … why did this person do that, why did person do this… for the why question sometimes we get no answer. It is said that we should all learn from the pastimes, we should learn from our mistakes. Yes, it is true we should learn from our mistakes, but sometimes some situations happen in such a way in our life, that it was the best thing that we can learn is to stop trying to learn. What I mean by that is, not that you shouldn’t try to learn, but that if you are too emotionally close to a situation, we can’t learn from that at that time. If the wound is too raw, and the more we think of it the more it hurts. If we want to learn from a situation there has to be certain amount of distance, there has to be certain amount of detachment. There is a difference between learning from the past and lamenting about the past, resenting the past, holding grudges etc. So, we may say, ‘I want to learn from the past.’ The key difference between learning from the past and lamenting about the past or grudging the past… the key difference is, who is in control?
When I am learning from the past, I am in control, and I take my mind, I take my consciousness to the past… this event happened, I spoke like this, he spoke like that, and then I did like this, I could have done that, that person could have done like this…we calmly analyze and then when we calmly analyze, then when we are in control we take our thought to this event, and then we draw our thoughts out and we learn some lessons. So, when we are in control then we can learn, but when we are lamenting, when we are resenting, then we are not in control, our mind is in control. The mind just takes us on a ride, and this is not a joyful ride, it’s a painful ride. Now we are in one place… the mind… why did he do that? It’s such a terrible thing, it’s such a horrible thing, such a nasty thing, just… once…1,2,3,4,5…. he remembers the incidents and it is all just agony, agony, agony.. So, sometimes when the wound is too raw, we just can’t… we have the distance to…we just don’t have the distance to go back and learn. So, at that time it is just best to take shelter of Krishna. Stop thinking about the situation, just focus on connecting with Krishna, absorbing ourselves in Krishna, gradually our emotional temperature will go down. When the emotional temperature is too high, you just can’t think clearly. So, get the emotional temperature down. Once you get the emotional temperature down, then there is capacity for rational analysis and learning, what to do in this situation?
So, now when we are trying to decide, ‘Ok, in this particular situation this person did like this, what I should do now?’ So, generally speaking it is best that we talk with each other, instead we talk about each other. What happens… if A has done something to B, what happens B goes and tells it to C, ‘ You know what A did.. like this, like this’…. ‘Ah really!’, then C goes and tell this to D, and then D goes and tells A, and then A feels, ‘Oh B is backbiting against me.’ , and what happens A goes and tells this to E, E goes and tells F, and F goes an tells B… and then just things become a big mess. So, if we have some issues with some people, it is best to talk with them. We may need to talk with someone else to get a better perspective, but then that person should be trustworthy. Just keep talking about others instead of talking with others, that makes a big mess of things. So, this talkig with others directly, it helps in resolving issues. Resolving doesn’t mean necessarily the conflict will be resolved. Resolving doesn’t necessarily mean that the issue will be solved, but at least we understand who stands there. Otherwise we are all getting second hand perspectives, and we don’t know who, what, who really said. So much time goes in clarifications or in misconceptions that are created because of inappropriate communication.
So, if we understand this person, if we talk with people directly then we understand that this person is like this, this person is like this, just leave it.
I will talk two more points:
One point is with respect to the forgiveness itself that when we are dealing with others, the important thing is that we just don’t deal with them, we are dealing with Krishna also. With every interaction that we have with anyone, that is also an expression of our relation with Krishna. Sometimes we relate Krishna through people who are very kind and loving. Sometimes we relate Krishna through people who are very unloving and unkind. So with both kind of people we are ultimately relating with Krishna, and Krishna’s love for us can come through different people at different times. So, somebody may have been very kind to us at a particular time, and when that person does something which hurts us, it’s even more painful, because if we know somebody as an enemy and we go close to them, we know they are going to hit us, so we are ready, we are guarded ourselves up to be hit, but if we go to someone who may love us and we expect a pat, and at time we get a punch, that hurts all the more. So, like that some people may hurt us directly. So, need to see the Krishna connection. Krishna connection means that actually it is Krishna who is offering His love to …37.30-34… That person is not an independent agent …. Yes, that person… we are not denying the agency of that person, we are not minimizing or rejecting the fact that this person is offering some love, but it is ultimately Krishna who loves us, and Krishna expresses love through this person, and that same Krishna express His love through some other person.
One of the most intimate acts of love is say, when a baby is new born, mother offers her own breast milk to the child. Now that is an expression of mothers love. At the same time is it only the mother’s love? The same child that… actually when the child is born, the mother doesn’t do anything special to produce 38.26-38.28.. The same God who has sent a child to the mother’s womb, also sends milk in her breast. So, it is Krishna who is expressing the love through the mother. That doesn’t mean that the mother is unimportant, but it is not that we stay stuck 38.46-48…
When Dhruva Maharaj was a small boy, at that time his offers him so much love and care. In fact his mother offers him love of both the mother and the father, because his father is simply attached to his other wife, and because of that he pays all his attention to her and her child. So, his mother does all that she can for him, but then when Dhruva is terribly insulted because his father neglects him, and what does his mother tell him… she tells him, ‘ I cannot help you at this point, it is Lord Visnu who can help you.’, and she says, ‘Lord Visnu can offer you more love than what millions of mothers like me can offer.’ So, she is not denying the reality of her love for her child, but she is recognizing it’s limitation. ‘Now my child, I cannot offer you anything. Go and take shelter of Visnu.’ For a mother to… for a mother of five year child to tell him to go to the forest, it’s incredible. Which mother can do that, but she realized that she can’t help him at that time. So, Dhruva actually goes to the forest, and Krishna arranges for him… and eventually he has darhan of Krishna.
So, when anyone offers us love, it is Krishna who is offering that love through them. So, all good things comes from Krishna, but all good things don’t always take us to Krishna. All good things comes from Krishna. So, somebody is very loving, somebody is very kind, it’s Krishna’s love which is coming through them, but sometimes that person may start behaving in a unreasonable way, maybe they will start behaving in a abusive way, in a violent way, harmful way. So, now what we understand that the same Krishna who is offering me love, may not offer love for this person. Krishna may offer love to someone else. So, we have a need for love, and need for love is to be fulfilled, but if we let that get restricted to only one person, then we become emotionally dependent on that person. When we become emotionally dependent on that person that chokes our 41.06.So, we have to recognize that, ‘Yes, that same Krishna can offer me love from different people at different times, and ultimately it is Krishna who is the source of that love.’
Draupadi had five husbands, but a time came in her life when nobody could help her. What did she do? She did not keep blaming her husbands… Why are you not helping me? They are not able to help, so she took shelter of Krishna.
So, her husbands were devotees of Krishna, and they were doing their duty of protecting her, but at that particular point they could not do anything. So, sometimes in our life when we see that a particular door is closed… Yes, there is particular person involved, and there is a particular dynamics of that person involved but more important you see is, whatever I was getting… it was… you know if this person was attracted to me in some way… everything attractive in this world reflects a spark of Krishna’s attractiveness.
yad yad vibhūtimat sattvaṁ
śrīmad ūrjitam eva vā
tat tad evāvagaccha tvaṁ
That whatever is attractive in this world, it reflects a spark of Krishnas spendour. So, that means that whatever we are attracted to, it is a spark of Krishna’s splendour. So, yes Krishna’s attractiveness was manifesting in the form of a spark from this person, but now it is no longer manifesting. Something is wrong. So, now let me focus on Krishna. So, we acknowledge the medium, we acknowledge the instrument, but we also acknowledge the source, and our primary relationship has to be with the source. We have horizontal relationships in this world, and we have a vertical relationship with Krishna. Now, the ideal situation is… when the horizontal relationships and the vertical relationships are symbiotic, that means that we have our loved ones, they are also interested in practicing bhakti, and sometimes we feel relax, we feel disheartened and they encourage us. Sometimes they feel relax, and we encourage them, and the horizontal relationship strengthens the vertical relationship, and similarly the vertical relationship strengthens the horizontal relationship.
Now, when we are connected with Krishna, when we are practicing bhakti, then by the practice of bhakti, we by the connection of Krishna through that practice we get a certain level of inner stability, inner maturity, then we are not so dependent on others. Now, in every relationship, whatever a person does that we often… we are relational creatures. So, we often define ourselves through our relationships. Now, when children see that their parents are not around them most of the time, then children don’t just understand, ‘Oh, my parents are very busy.’ They feel that their parents don’t love them. That means I am not lovable… but the concept of quality time can work with elders but it doesn’t work with small children. Now, because they just don’t understand what is important and what is not important. Children… for them, they need not quality time, they need quantity time. Now they need to see who is around me, most of the time. So, when they see that, then they feel love.
So, just as…. for children it is very easy to understand that to a child if the parents don’t pay attention, don’t pay time…give time to the child, then children feel unloved, and when they feel unloved they just don’t feel unloved, they start feeling that, ‘I am unlovable, or I am unworthy of love.’ And that can be very emotionally crippling for them. So, similarly when we grow up… when we are still a child, when we are still a tender child in our heart and there is any rejection in any relationship, when there is any blow in any relationship we often define ourselves….45.24… ‘This person doesn’t care for me.’, and then maybe that means that I am not good enough, and then there is that insecurity that is there, that instability that is there, but when we are connected with Krishna, when we are sheltered in Krishna through our practice of bhakti then that gives security, that gives us shelter.
Whatever it is, Krishna always loves me. When nothing is left, Krishna is still left. Now, everybody may leave us and go away, but Krishna will always be there in our heart. He is never going to desert us. He is always there with us, and Krishna’s love for us doesn’t depend on who we are, Krishna’s love for us is based on who He is. He is the all attractive, all loving person. He loves us not because of who we are. He loves because of who He is. He always loves us, no matter how many wrong things we would have done, he still loves us. It is not that Krishna says, ‘I am present only in the heart of the pure devotee and I am not in the heart of a sinful person.’
sarvasya cāhaṁ hṛdi sanniviṣṭo
mattaḥ smṛtir jñānam apohanaṁ ca
vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyo
vedānta-kṛd veda-vid eva cāham
I am in the hearts of all the living beings. Krishna’s love for us is unchanging. He always loves us. So, now of course our experience of love… His love…it depends on who we are? The sun is always giving light to everyone, but if I close my eyes I can’t see the sun. So, like that Krishna always loves us, but we are too caught in the materialistic things, then we will not be able to feel Krishna’ love. We will feel Krishna’s love only when material things work out right for us, but still the point is that Krishna always loves us, and when we practice bhakti that gives us a certain level of stability, a certain level of security that actually I am… Krishna cares for me, Krishna loves me. So, even if there is some turbulence in the horizontal relationship it won’t shake us so much because we have stability through our vertical relationship. When we don’t have this stability through the vertical relationship then any turbulence in the horizontal relationship will shake us too much. Why? Why will it shake us too much? Because we have defined ourselves in terms of my horizontal relationship….
If I define myself as the husband of someone, if I define myself as the wife of someone, if I define myself as the parent of someone, if I define myself as the child of someone, then if there is a issue in that relationship then my own self-definition and my own self-worth come in question, but if I define myself as a part of Krishna, as a servant of Krishna, and as a servant of Krishna I am the wife of someone, I am the husband of someone, I am parent of someone, I am the child of someone. All these are services that we 48.22, and sometimes, some services work out, sometime some services don’t work out. Sometimes, even pure devotees like Srila Prabhupada… it’s not that every single thing that he did worked out. Prabhupada started the league of devotees, it didn’t work out. Prabhupada ran Back to Godhead in India, it didn’t work out. Sometimes some services… if we see each relationship as a service, we understand that sometimes some services work out, and sometimes some services don’t work out. So, we will have a sense of our own self-identity… of inner security and self-worth, independent of our relationships, our horizontal relationships. Not entirely independent. We are not meant to be isolated living beings, but when we are defined primarily by our own vertical relationship with Krishna, then that brings stability in our horizontal relationships. So, ultimately to give up resentment in any horizontal relationship we have to have… we have to have a much deeper vertical relationship. That vertical relationship with Krishna…
When we understand that… Ok this person… I had this relationship with this person and he makes me doing this things, we are expecting these things but this person is not like this. So, if I have defined myself in terms of that relationship then any rejection, any mistake on that part, any offense by them, it will just become unbearable for us because it is not just what they have done, it is what it means for us. ‘You did this to me, that means you don’t care for me, and that means that I am not worth being cared for, I am not really worthy…’ So, that insecurity that is there, that can tremendously 50.10(inaudible)… that is what disturbs us, but when we are connected with Krishna that insecurity is substantially decreased because we know that Krishna will always help us, and that’s why when we put Krishna first, ‘this vertical relationship is my most important relationship’… and all horizontal relationships are services in that vertical relationship.
So, when I said services doesn’t mean it is not important, some services can be very very important but at the same time they are services, they don’t define me, they define an aspect of me. ‘Yes, I want my services to be successful. If you do any service, if you are speaking, if you are singing, if you are managing, if you are distributing books, you want to be successful, you want to do well. So, like that whatever relationship that we have… I am mother, I am a husband, I am child, I want this services to be successful, but I am not dependent on them, I am not defined by them. Even if these don’t work out, I am not over, my relationships move on, Krishna moves on. They are all important means for me to move on with my relationship with Krishna, but when we see them as services we don’t identify with them so much, and to the extent that we don’t identify so much with them, to that extent we can actually perform them more responsibly because when we are too dependent there is attachment, there is detachment, and there is commitment.
Now we often think of, ‘don’t be attached, be detached.’, but bhakti is not just our dynamics of attachment and detachment. Bhakti is about commitment. Commitment means that even if… commitment basically means no matter how I feel I will do this, that is commitment. It is like say, when a mother has a new-born child. Now the child is like an alarm clock that goes off any time… even in the middle of the night. Now, the mother is committed to taking care of the child. Normally, even if we set the alarm clock at a particular time and even if it starts ringing, we shut it off…. I don’t want to wake up. But when the child starts crying the mother would never shut off the child. Why not? Because there is commitment. The mother may not feel like waking up in the morning, she may be tired terribly, but she will wake up, why? Because there is commitment. So, there attachment, there is detachment and bhakti is neither about attachment, nor about detachment, it is about commitment. Commitment means, we are committed to our relationship with Krishna. See, commitment basically means that whether I feel like it or I don’t feel like it, I will do it. So, we are committed to our relationship with Krishna… that means I will practice bhakti, I will serve Krishna, whether I feel like it or I don’t feel like it. That commitment is what will bring stability. In any relationship it is commitment that brings stability.
Today’s culture is like a commitment diverse culture. People don’t want to make any commitment in their relationships. Now, the Bhagavtam talks about how people who are attached to their families… you know Kaliyuga people are not even attached to their families. Does that mean that they are renounced? No, they are not renounced, they are irresponsible. What is the difference between irresponsibility and detachment? Irresponsibility…if a student says… the student is not studying for the exam. Mother says, ‘Study.’, he says, ‘No, I am detached.’ (laughter) That is not detachment. That is irresponsibility. So, actually the key difference between detachment and irresponsibility is, ‘Irresponsibility is before the action. Detachment is after the action.’ If I don’t study for my exam it is not detachment, it is irresponsibility, I am not doing my studies only, but after I have done my studies, after I have done my part, then I am 54.34… ‘Will I pass this exam or not? What will happen? What will happen?’ That is attachment. You have done your part, now leave it. So, detachment means, we do our part and then we leave the rest to Krishna. So, detachment is in fact not at all irresponsibility. Detachment is the opposite of responsibility. Is the opposite of irresponsibility.
See, when we are detached… if I am too attached to something, you know, I am interacting with one person. After interacting with that person now I am interacting with someone else. If I too attached to someone, while interacting with B I am still thinking about A, and then I am not available for that interaction, then I don’t respond properly, I am not responsive basically. So, when we are detached actually that helps us to take ourselves from one thing and focus on the next, and in that sense detachment helps us to become more responsive. When I am detached, then I do what is my part, and after I have done my part I move on to the next thing. So, when are committed to Krishna, we can be detached. Not detached in the sense of being irresponsible, not detached in the sense of being uncaring, but detached in the sense of knowing what is in my control and what is not in my control. When I see every relationship as a service to Krishna, then when I see that, OK, in this relationship I have done this, this, this. Now how that person responds it’s up to them. I can’t control that. So, I move on. I am not defined by how this person responds. I am going to move on, I am going to do the next thing.
So, surrender sometimes just means letting go off things, and sometimes surrender means holding on to things and doing things. Both can be forms of surrender. So, Draupaudi, she surrendered raising her hands up… ‘Krishna, I surrender to You.’… Arjuna… Krishna tells Arjuna in the end of Bhagavat Gita, ‘Surrender… sarva-dharmān parityajya
mām ekaṁ śaraṇaṁ vraja
Ajuna understands…He says, ‘Yes Krishna I surrender to you.’ But how did Arjuna surrender? Not by trying to surrender by raising his hands in helplessness. Arjuna surrenders by fixing up his bow in readiness to fight.
So, surrender can have many different 56.53(inaudible)… and the key thing in surrender is, We understand what is in my control, what is not in my control. So, yes, in this particular relationship this is what I could do, I did that well enough, now I move on to the next thing. So, that is detachment, and that detachment comes when we are committed to Krishna. When I am committed to Krishna, I am going to serve Krishna whether I feel like it or I don’t feel like it. Then what happens? ‘Ok, this person is not acting properly. I don’t feel like working.’ … No… I am committed to my service to Krishna, we will move onwards, and as we move onwards we find that, that particular thing that was just eating us up mentally… when we just don’t have time to think about things, when we don’t have… when we just keep ourselves ideal so that first thing eats us up. When we see ourselves as servants of Krishna, we see our relationship as a service to Krishna, then even if a particular relationship doesn’t work out we can move on, we can move on and then we will see many times that as we move on, things reveal themselves, things resolve themselves… ‘Ok, this is how it will work out, this is how this should work out.’ And we take care of things.
So, when we recognize that all horizontal relationships are actually Krishna expressing His love for us through those relationships, and sometimes when those people are unloving that doesn’t mean we are unlovable. That simply means that now Krishna will express His love through someone else or Krishna may reveal His love to me directly. So, rather than just getting locked in that… ‘Why is this person not acting properly?’ We don’t let ourselves be defined by that person. We let ourselves be defined by relationships with Krishna. So, when people around us become unloving, at that time rather than just feeling, ‘Oh, why is this persons not caring for me? Why are people not caring for me?’… We can focus on connecting with Krishna, and this is the time when I take a whole hearted shelter of Krishna, and when we do that, we not only experience that Krishna is always there for us, Krishna’s shelter is real, Krishna’s shelter is transformational, Krishna’s shelter lifts us above our circumstances. So, ultimately all the relationships that we have, they are important and we need to be responsible in this relationships, but ultimately they are just one relationship among many relationships that we have had in our life, in this life… what to speak of previous lives.
So, no relationship… or the frustration in that relationship needs to be given so much importance that it locks our eternal relationship with Krishna. When we focus on connecting with Krishna, all the relationships… how to deal with it, how to cope with the negativity in those relationships, we will see things in perspective and we will be guided about how to deal with them. We will ourselves get the intelligence to appropriately deal with them.
So, whenever things are going wrong, rather than saying why this is going wrong, we just change the 1:00:00 (inaudible)… ‘Krishna how can I serve You in this situation?’ … ‘Why is this person acting like this, why is that person acting like that? The Why question is just perplexing. I ask… ‘How can I serve you?’ Once I focus on… How can I serve you, then by that question gradually in dawns on me, ‘I can do this, I can do that, I can take this forward, I can move this, I can do this..’ and as I keep taking a step forward, gradually a path emerges, and we move onwards in our life. So, the How question… ‘Krishna! How can I serve you?’ That is an empowering question. In every situation we are in, there is always some way I can serve Krishna, and as we start taking one step, two step forward, we will find that… ‘Ok, this door has closed, but this door is open, and this path is opening.’ , and in a matter of time we will find that actually that bad thing happened, but Krishna has brought us to something much better. Krishna knows better than us what is best for us. So, we do our part, and by doing our part if things don’t work out, we don’t let that define us, we just move on, and Krishna reveals the plan in due course. Krishna is expert at bringing good even out of the bad. For Him to bring good out of the bad, we have to be cooperative with Him. If we let ourselves get clogged, blocked by resentment, then we don’t let Krishna work through us. Krishna is working through us, Krishna is working around us, Krishna is working beyond us, but Krishna is always working for us, is working for our wellbeing. Sometimes He uses intelligence… Krishna works through us, Krishna works around us.
Sometimes we get rejected and we get terribly hurt in one relationship, but then somebody else helps us at that time… This person is helping me… It is Krishna acting and helping me. Krishna works through us, Krishna works around us, Krishna works beyond us. Sometimes how He is working we don’t know. When Srila Prabupada came to America he had no idea what he is going to do in America, but Krishna arranged for so many people who would be there, who would receive Prabhupada’s message about Krishna and took up.
Krishna is working through us, around us, beyond us, Krishna is always working for us. When we have the faith that Krishna is working for us, then we do our part in serving Krishna and just don’t let any relationship reduce us, don’t let any relationship restrict us in our moving on towards Krishna. So, we can be grateful. The Seminar was from grudging to gratitude. So, we can be grateful that we have the opportunity to connect with Krishna. How will people in the world have that opportunity?
Now among the millions and millions of people in the world, we are among the few who have the opportunity to connect with Krishna. We focus on that opportunity and we can be grateful that we have the most precious thing in the world. At least we have… we have Krishna Himself, and that… as long as we have Krishna then we… we have the source of everything. We may not realize that right now, but we have Krishna with us.
So, to the extent we are not focussing on Krishna and trying to practice bhakti… if you feel, ‘Oh, I don’t have this, I don’t have that.’, but to the extent we focus on Krishna and practice bhakti, we will realize that we have the greatest treasure. Over a period of time, even in the tough phases of our life, we will see that… in the past I would have collapsed in such a situation, but by Krishna’s shelter I have been able to endure it, I have been able to go through it, I have been able to go through it. Krishna’s shelter is real and that realization, that conviction about the reality of Krishna’s shelter, that is the greatest gain, because stability, security, happiness in relationships of life… it’s important, but ultimately those relationships are temporary. If we realize the reality, the potency of the eternal shelter of Krishna, and that is our eternal 1:04:29.
So, Krishna is sometimes… breaks something small to provide something better. So, there may be something happening in a particular relationship but that breakage, that cleavage in a particular relationship may be what we need for deepening our relationship with Krishna. There are clouds in the sky, they look beautiful, but Krishna breaks the clouds so that rains can come. Now the ground, it looks nice, but in order to plough the ground has to be broken. Ploughing means breaking the ground. That’s when crops can grow. When grains are there, the grains have to be broken, so that we can make break, we can make chappatti’s and the food that we eat that has to be broken so that energy can come. So, each time something that is existing that is broken, so that something more usable, something better can be made.
Sometimes there may be breakages… cleavages in certain of our horizontal relationships so that the vertical relationships can merge deeper, rather than just letting that resentment of the horizontal relationship consume us we redirect our intense emotions towards Krishna, and there we find a supreme shelter.
I spoke today about how in the last session we covered a wide variety of things.
First part I spoken is forgiveness, and in Forgiveness I talked about how there is internally forgiving, that means that we don’t hold on to resentment, and that letting go off of resentment is both a decision and a emotion. So, we can’t just delete away our memories, but forgiving creates a new way of remembering. When we are not emotionally locked in that, then we can see it from a distance and observe and learn from it as if it had happened to someone else… someone different from us, then it doesn’t hurt us so much.
So, we have to take that conscious decision. Like a wound, if we keep scratching it, it’s going to worsen. Like if we keep remembering that hurt, it will worsen, but if we just let go, ‘Ok it is past and it is over’, We decide to let go, then gradually the healing will take place. Look, practically how to act, we can externally in terms of relationship… basically forgiving is not the same thing as trusting. Forgiving is for the past, trusting is for the future, and forgiveness can be given but trust has earned.
So, we discussed, Ram punished Ravana because he was incorrigible but still He didn’t hold resentment against him, told Bibhisan, ‘You also don’t hold resentment against him.’
Now, Vasudev forgave Kamsa when he sought forgiveness, but Vasudev did not trust Kamsa, did not tell the whereabouts of Krishna, and eventually Kamshas 1.07.19 and he had to be punished by Krishna. On the other hand Dhrtarastra, he repeatedly hurt Vidura but Vidura forgave him, but Vidura eventually came back, and when he was 1:07:35 with Dhrtarastra, he enlightened him, he didn’t hold any grudge against him, but he did not…. when he was insulting him he walked away from the scene and came back later.
So, there may be different ways we can practically act in our relationships, when we have to implement forgiveness. The key thing is rather than asking the question, Why is this person doing this? We focus on the How question… How should I best serve in this situation? In that connection I mentioned that we have a vertical relationship with Krishna, and we have a horizontal relationship with others, and if we let any horizontal relationship define us, then we will be shaken too much, too emotionally consumed. But if we are defined by our vertical relationship, ‘I am a servant of Krishna and all my horizontal relationships are actually services to Krishna’, then we understand that the purpose of life is not to get back at others, it is to get back to Krishna, and whatever is required for me for my onward journey towards Krishna I will do that.
So, we all have different roles. Now Forgiveness in and individual one to one relationship is a virtue, but in a social interaction a king cannot be always be forgiving, King has to have justice and that may require punishment. So, that’s why the brahmanas are enjoined to forgive, the ksatriyas are enjoined to punish. Now usually in our day to day interaction with our loved one’s, with other devotees it is best to have a brahminical mode. No need to hold on to small issues and make them big. Of course sometime some issues may be big, and at that time we may have to take a course of some ksatriya mode of acting, but that should not be the default mode of acting. Just focus primarily on skipping small things small, and just moving forward in our life, and for moving forward in our life we just see that no relationship should block my relationshiop with Krishna. We see all relationship as service. Sometimes some service will work out, and sometimes some service will not work out. Rather than just being resentful, ‘No, why is this person acting like this?’ We can understand that whatever attractiveness I felt in this person, it was actually Krishna’s attractiveness 1:09:47 (inaudible). Whatever love this person gave me, it was actually Krishna’s love. If that love is coming you can reciprocate, it’s fine. But, if that love is not coming, I don’t have to reduce my existence to this person’s behaviour towards me. Actually I am …1:10:03… Krishna loves always. Krishna’s love for us is not based on who we are, it is based on who He is. He always loves us, and to the extent we don’t let ourselves to be defined by our horizontal relationships. 1:10:15 we are not materially attached,…. we will be able to feel Krishna’s love, and detachment is not irresponsibility. Irresponsibility means that we don’t do our part, but detachment is actually… after doing our part, we let go so that we can do other things. Detachment helps us to become more responsible because we don’t get consumed by one thing or any one relationship. So, in every relationship rather than focussing on whether I am attached or detached, we can focus whether I am committed or not. Whether I am committed to serve Krishna, and as a service to Krishna I am going to serve in this relationship, and how much, how long, to what extent, that will depend on how best I can serve Krishna.
So, when we focus on that committed action of serving Krishna, then that connection with Krishna brings us security, brings us stability, gives us a sense of self-worth by which we can tolerate turbulences in our relationships positively, and then we can move on. So, always we can be grateful for the opportunity to connect with Krishna, and through that connection with Krishna we will always be stable, and accordingly whichever relationship works out, either… 1:11:36 or closes, rather than obsessing why the door is closed, we move on.. how can I serve you, it will reveal, it will be the light for us to show the path…
So, I will conclude with one thought that, when we are down to nothing, Krishna is up to something. So, what that something is we will learn through our service attitude… rather than saying, ‘Why am I down to nothing? Why? Why? Why?… instead of focussing on that, we focus on… Krishna! how can I serve you? When we have that service attitude, Krishna will reveal what He is upto, and we will find out that He knew all along what is best for us, better than us. Even if bad things happen, Krishna will expertly bring good out of the bad.
(Transcription by Sadananda Krishnaprema Prabhu)