To protect ourselves, we sometimes become insensitive to others – how to avoid?
Transcribed by: Dr Suresh Gupta
Edited by: Raji Nachiappan
Question: To protect ourselves, we sometimes become insensitive to others – how to avoid?
Answer: Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura says that aggressive intellectualism is coward atheism. When we are very aggressive that we are right and they are wrong, that is actually because we are ourselves insecure about whether we are right. If we can prove that we are right to someone or if we can convert a person to our path, then we feel vindicated. If someone is doing something different, then that is perceived as a threat to one’s faith. To the extent our faith is insecure, to that extent we will be aggressive in our inter-personal dealings with people of other faiths. This is just a coward way to seek security. However, we need to understand that in actuality, there are different people at different levels in their spiritual evolution and what is right for us now, may not be right for someone else at their level of spiritual maturity.
Krishna says in the Vedic scriptures, that there are many different ways people can grow spiritually. He also says not to disturb the minds of those who are attached.
na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed
vidvān yuktaḥ samācaran (Gita 3.26) –Do not disturb the minds of those who are attached, even if they are wrong and we are right. Encourage them to engage themselves in a spiritual direction wherever they are. Krishna acknowledges that there are different people at different levels and not everybody will be taking significant leaps forward in their spiritual life. If they cannot take a leap, we do not have to kick them down. We need to encourage them to take baby steps and that will also help them move forward.
Therefore, if we become more secure in our own faith, then we do not have that insecurity within us pushing us to prove to the other person that we are right and they are wrong. Secure faith will come by our own serious practice, systematic scriptural study, and our own strong devotional connections. Once we have this secure faith, we can understand that Krishna has different plans for different people and ultimately Krishna has plan for everyone. Hence, if we are a part of Krishna’s plan for another person taking up spirituality, then Krishna will use and give us the right words and he will also give the person the right receptivity by which our words will be received. However, if Krishna has a plan to uplift someone spiritually, which is not through us but through somebody else, then that is also fine.
There is a beautiful prayer of Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the Chaitanya Sikshamrita where he describes his mood if he goes to a place where they are worship God in a way different from what he knows. He says that we should be there in a mood of reverence and appreciating the mercy of God for manifesting there in a form that is different. Therefore, although we cannot appreciate whatever they are doing and what the exact manifestation and practices are, still we can appreciate the compassion of the Lord for the fact that he has reached out to the people in this manifestation. Therefore, our devotion to the Lord in the manifestation that we know increases, knowing how compassionate the Lord is. This way, if we can become secure in our own faith and understand that different people may be going in different directions at different times, then we do not have to become aggressive and insensitive to them.
Education initially is given in terms of black and white, where there are clear distinctions between right and wrong. Therefore, moral categories are drawn very clearly in the initial stages. However, as we grow when we see morality intercepting reality, then we understand that moral categories are not so rigid. For example, generally lying is considered wrong. However, if someone is in a situation where they will be killed if they do not lie or if we do not speak a lie then that can lead to somebody else being killed, then we do speak a lie at that time. The point is that initially education is given in black and white but then we learn to see the shades of grey. In the beginning, students are told three minus five is not possible but then, later they are taught how three minus five is possible. In the same way, initially when we get our spiritual education, the moral boundaries are drawn very rigidly. This may work for our protection initially, but this does have a tendency to make us very judgemental and insensitive. At present, we live in an age where any kind of judgemental attitude is very much frowned at. Hence, we have to recognise that there are many shades of grey in between and as a result we do not have to become judgemental about others.
Therefore, by both recognising that Krishna has many different ways of getting people to him and that between black and white there are many shades of grey, we can do what is best for others, without necessarily judging them based on what we are doing or not doing.
End of transcription.