Not only will our life be superficial, but our relationships as well. Material relationships are based on sense gratification. As devotees, we want to eliminate this foundation, but unless we replace it with something higher, there will be a vacuum in our relationships. We have to replace sense gratification with the principles of giving and accepting shelter. Only then will our life and our relationships become deep and meaningful. Otherwise we will simply surround ourselves with 'haribol-relationships': exchanging small-talk, lots of 'haribols', and talking about ourselves rather than inquiring from seniors and more experienced devotees. Such relationships are not spiritually nourishing. We can clearly observe this taking place in our communities. As soon as we cultivate the mood of giving and accepting shelter, then relationships become deep and meaningful. But if this is not there, we have a rather impersonal atmosphere where devotees are simply busy with themselves and their services, running past each other. And devotees may easily feel like 'hired hands' - nobody is interested in their personal development as devotees, but simply in how much service they can render. As a result, devotees may move on to another community. Unless we come to the point in our spiritual development, where we genuinely and selflessly want to reach out to others to uplift them, we remain kanistha: simply focusing on ourselves. Srila Prabhupada expressed this in a lecture on Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.4 in Mayapura on 11 February, 1976:
"When you become advanced Krishna conscious, then your natural tendency will be how to preach. So long you do not develop this tendency for preaching, simply remain in kanistha-adhikari, you do not know how to deliver others, na tad-bhaktesu canyesu, you do not know how to receive elevated, one elevated devotee, you do not know how to do good to others."
There is such a thing as selfishness within spiritual practice: my sadhana, my service, my project, my schedule, my trip to India, my reading time-mine, mine, mine....! It is still selfishness, even though employed in Krishna consciousness. A natural sign of spiritual advancement is when we want to reach out to others and sacrifice ourselves in uplifting them. If we truly value Krishna consciousness-how it has changed our entire life-then we surely want to give it to others.
The two main keys for successful community development are the following: moving the Deities of a community into the very center of our lives, and cultivating sheltering relationships amongst devotees. The Deities being at the center will not bring success on its own. It still leaves room for impersonalism amongst the devotees. After all, in the Adi Purana Krishna says to Arjuna:
"Not he is My devotee who claims to be My devotee, but he who claims to be the devotee of My devotee-he is My real devotee."
Service to devotees attracts Krishna's attention. And what better way to serve devotees than giving shelter, guidance and inspiration to move forward in their spiritual life!
As always, I spent time every day in Prabhupada's quarters chanting japa, begging Srila Prabhupada for mercy and guidance. In the evenings I offered a lamp to Their Lordships, and even though it was so crowded, nevertheless I did not want to miss the special atmosphere of so many devotees coming to offer their lamp in eagerness and devotional anticipation. What an amazing trick Krishna instigated by giving us this Kartik month, which entices so many devotees to leave behind their usual distractions and duties and come to Vrindavan to absorb themselves in remembering Him.....!
On the 1st of November I flew to Chandigarh.....
Your servant, Devaki dd