Is personal association of devotees essential?

by Chaitanya CharanJanuary 18, 2024

From: SNS.Ravindranath:

is association of devotees relates to mind or personal association is required?

How can a person who is not in access with devotees can cope with this situation

 

Transcription
Question: Is personal association of devotees essential?

Answer: Personal association of devotees is extremely beneficial and largely essential for our spiritual advancement. This is because we are largely influenced by our surroundings and the desires of those people who are in our surroundings. Therefore, if we do not have devotee association, that means we have the association of non-devotees. Such association will often create non-devotional desires within us. Some of these desires will be non-devotional while some of them may even be anti-devotional. These are desires for indulgences that directly contradict the principles of devotional service.

Essentially, the purpose and the principle of association is the reception of devotional desires. Association is not just physical proximity, but is the receptivity to devotional desires. For example, when we visit a centre or a temple and associate with devotees and see how they are happy in their practise of devotional service and chanting the holy names, serving the Lord and doing various other services, all of this inspires us to also act similarly.

The power of inspiration and the association of devotees to instill within us similar devotional desires is almost irreplaceable. As far as possible, we need to orient our life in a way that we can at least have some association of devotees every week. If we can stay in a centre or near a centre or if we can stay with friends who are also practising devotional service, then we can have daily association. However, if that is not possible, then at least once a week we can go to some nearby centre or temple. Even if it is a little far away, the time and the energy spent is well worth it, because that association will surcharge us. The more we are inspired, the lesser the internal struggle and battle in bhakti.

When we are not inspired to chant Hare Krishna, then even if we have to chant a few rounds, they become a big burden. Therefore, we cannot evade difficulty when we are practising bhakti. If we take the trouble to associate with devotees and become inspired in that association, that will save us the trouble or at least decrease the trouble of battling with the mind, because we will be inspired and enthused.

If we are in a situation where associating with devotees even once a week is difficult, then we have to see what we need to change in our schedule so that we can have regular association. Krishna has given us 168 hours per week. We can at least arrange our life in such a way that we can give 2-3 hours to Him, to associate with His devotees. Even then, if it is not possible physically, then we can make a program to associate with devotees by calling them, by having email exchanges with them, maybe attending some classes on Skype or some podcasts, especially where there can be interactions so that we can ask questions and get clarifications.

Most important is that we show Krishna that whenever there is association available, we grab that association. This way, in the future, even when association is not available, Krishna will see that sincerity and still keep guiding us. However, if we have the opportunity for association but we let our mind create excuses and justifications for not taking that association, and Krishna sees we are not really interested in making spiritual advancement, then we will find that the inspiration is disappearing. Therefore, to give association is Krishna’s greatest blessing and to take association is our greatest responsibility.

When Krishna offers us the blessings, we need to make it our responsibility to receive that blessing and to enrich ourselves with that blessing. In this way, either by daily or weekly or at some frequency, when we physically associate with devotees, and also at some frequency, staying in touch with devotees in an interactive, personal way, either through phone calls, emails, skypes or podcasts or whatever, we can keep ourselves spiritually enlivened. Thank you.

End of transcription.

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Chaitanya Charan

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