The temple building used to be a church - what an appropriate palace for Their Lordships! Next to the temple is a very nice Govinda's restaurant with a large and well stocked gift shop for devotional items located upstairs. In the same street are many flats which are owned by the temple and rented to devotees. In this way many devotees have the opportunity to live in walking distance to the temple, and therefore especially mangal artik, but also other parts of the morning program are well attended.
Some devotees came for personal talks and were so eager for association and attention! Devotees felt very inspired and enlivened and expressed their gratitude with offerings of gifts, cards and letters. And they requested me to return regularly to offer other seminars. My new book went out like hot cakes! Svavasa Prabhu, the temple president made an announcement after the Sunday feast, saying: "Devaki Mataji's book is really good! I only read the first 40 pages, but I really like it. We do indeed need a bit more culture, so everybody should get a copy of her book." Needless to say, this was a pretty good promotion, so by Krishna's mercy I ended up distributing 75 copies! The gift shop and the temple book stall also accepted some copies for future distribution.
During our seminar we discussed how envy manifests in our relationships towards equals, seniors and juniors, and devotees were performing sweet and humorous role plays.
Envy can also manifest in constant and overly harsh correction of juniors. If we find ourselves very eager to take every opportunity to heavily correct others with harsh words, then we should be introspective and look within our hearts-maybe there is some envy mixed into our desire to offer correction. Maybe we have the tendency to put others down in order to establish our superior position.
Actually, one has to be authorized to correct others. Just the fact that others around us make mistakes does not mean we can correct them. Devotees at times show themselves especially enthusiastic to give correction to newcomers-they make so many mistakes! However, it can be very discouraging for such a beginner if he is constantly corrected from all sides, in so many little details of daily life. Hence we recommend that one particular person is in charge of new devotees and their correction. His Holiness Bhakti Charu Maharaja explains the etiquette and culture of correcting others in his book entitled Vaishnava Etiquette. To correct a devotee one must be non-envious and genuinely desiring to practically assist and uplift him in his Krishna consciousness. It also requires a confidential and trusting relationship for the correction to be accepted. We have to be in a position spiritually or managerially which justifies or necessitates such intervention, or we should be personally requested by the devotee to help him in his difficulty. The devotee offering correction should also be practicing what he preaches-he should walk his talk. Our actions speak louder than our words, so our own good example is often the best way to correct others in addition to our words. The correction will be easier accepted when offered privately and not in the presence of other devotees. We want correction to be an uplifting and purifying experience and destroy the ignorance in the heart of a devotee-not the devotee himself. Even Krishna Himself corrected Lord Indra and Lord Brahma in privacy after they had displayed their improper attitude towards Him. We also have to remember that some defects will be corrected by time passing by in sincere Krishna conscious practice. Some corrections will require further purification of the heart and not mere words pointing out the defects. Thus one has to be expert in recognizing which correction has to be given at what point in time. Some defects we might have to temporarily overlook in order not to discourage the young practitioner.
One may say: 'If almost everyone is envious, and one should be non-envious to correct somebody-how can anybody then correct anybody at all? Wouldn't we all then be unqualified to correct others?' Understanding the importance of being non-envious when correcting others will make us very wary in regards to our eagerness to give corrections. We surely must have been in the situation of receiving correction given with a tinge of envy, and also of giving correction to others with an envious heart. And we have felt the poisonous and contaminating effect such correction has-for both the receiver and the giver. It does not lead to purification but a disturbed mind and agitated heart and false ego. It ignites our own envy in our hearts. There are two practical tips if we find ourselves in the position of having to correct others, but also admitting that our heart is not free from envy:
* We request another senior person to offer the correction.
* If we feel a strong urge to correct the person immediately, right now-if we can hardly control our tongue to do so, then better to wait and sleep it over, until our false ego has cooled down and we are more relaxed about the defect to be corrected. This might take some hours, or even several days.
* Before offering the correction we cultivate a prayerful mood, begging Krishna to allow us to be an instrument and offer the correction in a humble and well-wishing mood of service and thus act as their best friend.
The last two tools are especially helpful, and applying them we can observe ourselves offering the correction in an appropriate mood, even though we might not be free from envy as yet.
My visit to LA created positive waves, and I can't help but taking it as Krishna's indication to visit again in the future.
On the 23rd of May I flew on to Vancouver/Canada....
Your servant, Devaki dd