A nice group of ladies from all around the world had registered to participate in this transformational journey - ladies from Germany, America, Russia, South Africa, New Zealand, Ghana, Malaysia and Eastern Europe. We were between 15 and 25 ladies - a good group which allowed personal interaction within a trusting atmosphere to enhance the learning experience.
We met five days a week for three hours every morning. The three units are very systematically unfolding various topics of spiritual culture and give deep insights, empowering the participants to make a conscious choice, how much of which culture they would like to have within their life.
Spiritual culture has universal underlying principles, which are opposite to the principles of materialistic life and its culture. As Krsna expresses in BG 2.69. the two cultures are like day and night since they are based on entirely opposite world views, ideologies and philosophies.
We began the lessons every day with wonderful role plays enacted by the participants, demonstrating the topics we had discussed the previous day. Some of these role plays were composed with creativity and deep absorption and were moving our hearts. We also managed to broadcast the entire course over Mayapur TV, and more devotees followed us online.
Every day we invited some of the participating ladies to take lunch with us, which again gave further opportunities to establish personal relationships. This is what we ultimately need the most: trusting and supportive relationships where we can find guidance how to move forward in our spiritual life.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur's powerful instruction in Amrta Vani comes to my mind: "One who gives personal instruction to each and everyone does more for others than the platform speakers do. Generally, whatever platform speakers say cannot solve the problem of everyone in the audience, nor can it always benefit every individual. A person's defects are better rectified in a private tutorial class or private coaching than in hearing lectures in a school or college. Therefore those who instruct particular persons separately can award them something more permanent."
This course is certainly in the mood of "Boiling the Milk" - assisting a small group of sincere devotees to get to deeper levels of spiritual practice. Unless we endeavor for deeper understanding, our spiritual life remains external, and we can easily maintain our attachments to materialistic concepts and world views. However, Krsna consciousness is meant to transform our heart. We are not meant to remain as we are, but transform ourselves, our lives and others around us. Ultimately the day of the materialist has to become night for us, if we want to become true sadhus. And this should be a natural result, if we do some deep internal work.
The process of Bhakti seems so easy: simply chant Hare Krsna, take prasadam and be happy. But infact - it is the most difficult process, since it requires a lot of internal hard work to transform the heart..... Unless one is introspective, humble and honest this transformation cannot take place, and our spiritual life remains superficial.
In the afternoon of Saturday the 25th we concluded the course with a final Sanga. I had requested everyone to bring a wrapped up gift, and I re-distributed them, so everybody received a present from an unknown person. We shared realizations, which was once again a heart moving moment. Each and everyone had received deep, transformational insights into another world view - a different concept of what it means to be successful in this life, and how to find satisfaction and happiness as a driver of a female vehicle within Krsna's Divine order.
One mataji in her 40's who had never been married and had always been keen to maintain her independance described it as a most illuminating time in her life, and with tears in her eyes she shared that if she had received this knowledge twenty years ago, she would have lived her life very differently.
We concluded with kirtan and prasadam - pizza and carob pudding with mango chutney.
During those three weeks I also began the arrangements for the Inauguration of the Institute for Spiritual Culture. We had set the date for the 5th of March - immediately after the Kirtan Mela. HH Bhakti Purusottama Swami, HH Sivarama Swami, HH Bhakti Rasamrta Swami, HH Niranjana Swami and HG Badrinarayan Prabhu had kindly agreed to be Board Members and give support to this humble endeavor of systematically spreading spiritual culture within ISKCON through education and training.
Thus times were very, very busy - getting all these things ready by the 5th of March....
One morning, for the very first time, I was invited to give the SB class in Mayapur. It was an excellent verse - 5.11.16, the theme being the false ego.
Since I had just given a whole seminar on this topic in Bangladesh I was prepared, and the class was well received. Many devotees thanked me for it - personally and by email, which was encouraging. Nothing more inspiring to a preacher than hearing that we are able to offer some little service to our audience - by Guru's and Krsna's mercy.....
On the 27th of January I flew off to Nepal to conduct a Holy Name Retreat...
Your servant, Devaki dd