CREATING SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR CONFIDENTIAL EXCHANGES

Srila Rupa Goswami writes, in Nectar of Instruction, there are six kinds of activities that can be performed in the association of devotees. He says these are symptoms of love shared by one devotee and another, one of which is revealing one’s mind to a devotee in confidence. In the battlefield of Kurukshetra, the relationship between the Lord and Arjuna metamorphizes from that of a casual friendship to that of guru and disciple. In both cases the intention is to create an atmosphere to strengthen bonds and create a platform to aspire to higher standards of spiritual practice. Can this be an example which inspires our present Vaishnava community in terms of creating a sense of belonging and a safe space to develop Krsna consciousness? Could how we relate to each other reflect how we connect with the Supreme Lord? Either way a safe space would make such exchanges possible. Even in ordinary social activities, the six types of dealing occur between two loving friends and not just anyone.

         Arjuna displays vulnerability in terms of a trepidation to fight and he decides to reveal his thoughts to the Lord. To be able to reveal one’s mind, one must feel safe. What are the conditions that made Arjuna feel secure to let the Lord know that he is in no position to fight? As a great warrior there are expectations Arjuna is obligated to fulfill. The Lord displayed patience amid the impending battle by allowing Arjuna to vent. The empathy displayed by the Lord allowed Arjuna to express his thoughts and feelings. In that moment of dilemma Arjuna felt accepted thus continued to reveal more of the confusions that were crippling his good judgement. The Lord decided to resonate with Arjuna by not proceeding with the battle but rather stopping to allow Arjuna to achieve equilibrium and gather courage to continue with the fight. The Lord goes on to understand Arjuna better with a caring confrontation and collaboration, to not push but rather motivate Arjuna to fight.

         Time heals. Vulnerable moments can pass with support and a feeling of being accepted. Acceptance of one’s weakness is the beginning of the search for strength. Arjuna is taking us through the process of surrender that begins with accepting our weakness and seeking help in the mood of humility. Arjuna puts his trust in the Lord. Trust can be built in a safe space, in which there is no room for judgement and so Arjuna was able to make progress in Krsna consciousness. When trust is built, a healthy alliance can be formed nourished by the six loving exchanges. Thus, Srila Rupa Goswami in essence has given us the recipe to have meaningful Vaishnava association. A recipe in which the method is ‘value, validate and verify’ and not ‘demotivate, demoralize, disregard’. In Bhagavad Gita, 2.62, The Lord says, ‘ Sangat sanjayate kamah’, ‘ones  desires and ambitions develop according to the company he keeps’. In the same way Srila Prabhupada created the safe space for the development of our Krsna consciousness.

Written by Kirtanamrita dd (Malaysia), licensed counsellor

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