Sankirtana Das is a longtime resident of the New Vrindaban Community and an award-winning author and storyteller. His most recent book, Hanuman’s Quest, is acclaimed by scholars and has received a Storytelling World Resource Honors. For more info about his work see www.Mahabharata-Project.com
For us to persevere through life’s various challenges, we need the fundamental conviction that we can make a difference.
Spiritual life is an invitation to opposites. It’s the acceptance of both matter and spirit, it’s the notion that less is more, it’s the experience of being in control and not.
When we face perplexities or adversities, we may protest, “Why is this happening to me?” And if we accept God as the supreme controller, we may protest against him, “Why are you letting this happen?”
Humility means to acknowledge that reality is bigger than our conceptions.
Pride is a formidable block on the road of spirituality. When it rears its ugly head it’s painstakingly obvious – to ourselves and others
When we are good at something, we can easily spot others’ weaknesses in that area. For example, if we are good at language, our attention automatically zooms to others’ grammatical shortcomings.
One of the biggest criteria for deepening our spirituality is the strength to be open and honest. Instead, however, we are often closed and pretentious. In the name of saving our face, we kill our soul.
When surface approaches of sensitivity and strength are founded upon a sincere selflessness, balancing the two emotions becomes effortless and natural. When our underlying motivation is to genuinely help someone, and that becomes the universal reference point, then we can confidently and unhesitatingly embrace whatever approach will facilitate growth.
Don’t be surprised to catch yourself playing ‘God’ even when you know better. The scientist wants the credit of universal explanation. The philosopher bathes in the credit of insight, originality and wisdom. The celebrity enjoys the credit of fame, fortune and adoration. The politician wants the credit of power and control. Even an ‘average Joe’ will clutch onto something unique which, at least he thinks, makes him stand out from the crowd.
In life, few things are as hurting as criticism. Even more excruciating is unwarranted criticism, that is, criticism based on misunderstandings or untruths. We tend to respond to such criticism in one of three broad ways.
The average person spends 23 days a year on the phone. Ironically, we seldom use them for the purpose they were invented – to audibly speak to people.
The ungrateful, inappropriate and irrational ways in which people act can infuriate us to no end. We deal with our anger by letting it loose (passionate and vengeful outbursts) or locking it up (emotionally disconnecting). Both expressions, however, are indicative of our own shortcomings.
In front of an ocean we realise how tiny we are! In the same way, as one advances in their relationship with God, their genuine appreciation and admiration of His character and qualities grows exponentially.
Srila Prabhupada repeatedly stressed that real education is character development. His name reminds us of the balance we have to strike – “Bhaktivedanta: knowledge with devotion.”
The notion of having power over others may provide a temporary gratification, but it starts to unravel pretty soon.
Generally, when we hear the term "humility," we imagine an individual who lacks confidence, is weak and unsure of themselves and in general is a pushover.
Good advice is easy to give but hard to take. As soon as we’re offered those words of wisdom, the defence systems kick in and the mind reels off a thousand justifications.
We all wish to grow both individually and socially. Unfortunately, we sometimes adopt unwittingly an approach that backfires on both fronts.
Real confidence comes from humility. We realise our inherent limitations, but gain firm conviction from knowing that the all-powerful will of providence is on our side.