Isn’t it useless to share spirituality with people who have no spiritual interest?
Transcriber: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Sharan Shetty
Question: Isn’t it useless to share spirituality with people who have no spiritual interest?
Answer: There are three broad categories: (i) deep seekers of spirituality (ii) open to spirituality (iii) not interested in spirituality.
Let us discuss first category, where people are seriously looking for spirituality. There are some senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada who actually left their home in search for God and travelled across the world. They were very seriously seeking God. However, most of us may not have gone out searching for God. At least I did not, rather God’s devotees came searching for me.
In the second category, there are large number of people who do not think they are searching for spirituality simply because they do not know, what is spirituality. These people may have particular conception about spirituality and based on that they may feel that spirituality is not for them especially in today’s world. These people may be open to spirituality but at the moment they are not interested because they do not really know about spirituality.
The third category of people are just not interested in spirituality.
Number of people is very small in the first category, reasonable in second category, but huge in the third category. Therefore, with respect to the third category, all we can do is we give them some agyaat sukriti (unknowingly acquired spiritual credits). We can do this by giving them some prasad or spiritual books which they can keep with them and probably read. This way we can help start their spiritual journey with some baby steps. If we push them too much, they will be alienated.
We cannot push people too much if they are not interested. We can only open the doors for them which lead to spirituality. However, sometimes what happens is, we open the doors and if they refuse to come in then we bang the door in their face saying, “You are a materialist, you will go to hell and suffer”. We should not do this.
At the end of our interaction, if the person does not become interested in bhakti, he should at least feel that he met a nice person. Such appreciation itself is also good for them. Thus, for most people in third category even if we just give them a positive perception of Krishna bhakti, that is also good enough.
For those in the second category, His Holiness Bhakti Tirtha Maharaj in one of his lectures has said that the beauty of a preacher is in finding out what the obstacles between a soul and Krishna are and how to remove those obstacles. It is not just about giving a lecture or plainly asking people to come to the temple but maturely addressing the barriers coming in their way of bhakti. It could be due to cultural reasons that they do not feel comfortable with some bhakti practices. It could also be due to some intellectual misconceptions. Or due to some practical requirements in their lives and many other things.
Most of our outreach will be for people in the second category.
When dealing with these three categories of people we can follow the instructions given in Srimad Bhagavatam 11.2.46,
prema maitri krpa upeksah
yah karoti sa madhyamah
It says, those who are envious keep a distance from them, those who are innocent show mercy to them and those who are devotees make friends or be friendly with them.
Some people we meet are already spiritually rewarded. It is because they are continuing from their previous life. We may find few people like these as well.
How do we know whether somebody is from second or third category? When we invite people and if they constantly keep saying “no” then we may have to let them go. However, if these people say “no” but they open up and provide a reason, then we can try to address their concern. If they are open to having their conceptions examined, then we can help them to come to a better understanding.
End of transcription.