It is my favorite time in this wonderful community - the festival season hasn't started yet, and it is not so crowded. The perfect time to connect with devotees by churning deeper topics - aiming at reaching devotees' hearts and inspiring internal transformation.....
We conducted four courses over four weeks - five days each, giving insights into the very relevant and widely discussed topic of spiritual culture. During the first week our theme was "Giving and Accepting Shelter - the Foundation to Vaisnava Relationships and Devotee Care." This year I offered this seminar to a mixed audience of men and women, and every day a wonderful group of around 35 devotees assembled in my ashram at the Goshala to participate in deep discussions. Some devotees from the Mayapur Care Department were there which was especially encouraging to me, and senior devotees and disciples of Srila Prabhupada also took part, which always uplifts the atmosphere and adds interesting angles of vision to the discussions.
During the next week we churned the topic of "Women in Spiritual Culture", which was once again well attended by around 30 nice ladies from various corners of the world. It left deep impressions on the hearts of the participants, and devotees shared heartfelt realizations.
But now in Mayapur we received even a more astounding response: a wonderful group of 34 intelligent men attended all five sessions with great eagerness and interest, and another 4 or 5 Prabhus came whenever their schedule allowed. A couple of Prabhupada disciples were also there, and otherwise a very mixed audience: a couple of school teachers from the Mayapur community, Bhakti Sastri teachers, many young fellows from various parts of the world, some boys who grew up in the movement and are now 21, 24 years old, some senior devotees from the Mayapur community.
Really, very inspiring indeed...!
They were all greatly interested - listening with wrapped attention and asking good questions. They also put on wonderful role plays at the beginning of each session, summarizing the topics of the previous day.
We concluded this course with a pizza feast - indeed a good reason to celebrate the success....! Some participants were sharing that it was the most transformational week in their entire Krsna consciousness.
What a wonderful and encouraging break-through....!
I could strongly perceive Prabhupada answering my prayers and gradually opening the doors to let this knowledge out into the world.....
The last unit "Marriage in Spiritual Culture" was attended by even a larger group of devotees, which made it necessary to shift into one of the class rooms in the Vaisnava Academy across the road.
This education is most essential and urgent in our ISKCON society. Understanding the culture of how to behave before and after entering marriage, how to maintain our commitments and raise children in a loving spiritual environment is the essential training for having stable relationships and protected, balanced individuals. Thus we can practise spiritual life with a peaceful mind and bring forth a new generation which will continue to push forward Srila Prabhupada's mission by practically applying the principles of Vedic culture. Devaki Mataji is uncompromisingly re-establishing spiritual culture in our society. I am convinced that applying these principles will actually be the building blocks of materially and spiritually balanced Vaisnava Communities all over the world. Then there is a good chance that we won't miss our target!
Kasi Priya Prabhu from Christchurch/New Zealand commented:
Devaki Mataji shared amazing realizations, tools and concepts. It is all very practical and eye opening. It inspired me to share this knowledge with others.
His wife Acyuta Bhava Mataji was also there:
In Devaki Mataji's course "Marriage in Spiritual Culture" she shares essential spiritual principles which are both very practical and very much needed in our ISKCON society. Delivered in a compassionate, yet straight forward and sometimes humorous way, we were all kept engaged with discussions, hand-outs and role plays making it a very active learning experience. I think this course will be so beneficial to all devotees! Thank you very much.
Some devotees could not participate in the scheduled morning hours and repeatedly begged me to have some private sessions in the afternoons as well. I fulfilled the request on three days during the week, which turned out to be a bit of a wipe-out for me....
I have to learn to set my boundaries by sometimes also saying "no".....
Some devotees had attended several courses, and spending so much quality time together creates strong bonds and deepens relationships. Many devotees came for personal discussions, and I felt inspired and honored to have the opportunity to serve them.
Once again it became clear to me how much devotees are lacking good guidance.....
I was invited to give a SB class for the Mayapur Community. The verse and purport touched on some of my favorite topics: the importance of a moment's association with a sadhu, and retiring in the holy Dham of Mayapur....
Giving deeper insights into what exactly happens at that one moment - lava matra, which is defined as an eleventh of a second, resulted in a long follow-up discussion over internet. Whenever we discuss deeper points we always run the risk that some will entirely miss the point. After all, there is no such thing as the *objective* experience. Every person hears something entirely different - according to his/her own consciousness.
Atmavan manyate jagat....
Your servant, Devaki dd