If you have a personal problem with a specific person and you cannot forgive that person, how does this affect your path to Krishna consciousness?
It’s a good point actually; it’s a very good point. We are conditioned souls but by the grace of the Lord we have taken to Krishna consciousness and we are trying to practice. Different of us may practice to different degrees. It depends but I think we are all trying to develop our Krishna consciousness. Having said that, even though we are trying to develop our Krishna consciousness and we some understanding and appreciation of how valuable and important it is, how we really have to do it. Still, still, sometimes our conditioning from our previous material existence, it tries to influence us again. Sometimes it may try to very strongly influence us to the point that we may feel or at least our material conditioning may make us feel that “why am I trying to be Krishna conscious?” These things happen because we have been conditioned having been in material life not just for many years in this lifetime but for many lifetimes. You know what they say; at least one thing they say is that “Old habits die hard”. Yes, old habits die but they die hard. It’s not so easy.
So, of course, we would understand in Krishna consciousness as this question is referring here:
If you have a personal problem with a specific person and you cannot forgive that person how will this affect your path to Krishna consciousness.
It’s a very good point because when you come to Krishna consciousness you learn many things quite quickly actually. It’s a bit of a crash course as they say. Just kind of overnight or in a relatively short period of time you become exposed to so many different types of ideas, Krishna conscious concepts, different perspectives and understandings on different situations from the point of view of Krishna consciousness. But to digest it all and adjust it all, adjust yourself to it all, it may not be so easy to do it so quickly. In this regard, this is a very important point, that one of things we learn in Krishna consciousness, very early. We learn of, at least we get instructed on, it gets explained to us, is that we have to learn how to forgive and we have to learn not to hold grudges and maintain negativity within our minds. It’s very important. If someone does something to you, unpleasant, as an example they insult you. The tendency of course if people insult you strongly, the tendency is it hurts you. Your mind may think about it repeatedly over a period of time and it can be very difficult to forget it. I don’t know if any of you here had any experience like that. These things tend to hang in the mind. This is what this person has written about here, that you cannot forgive the person. Maybe even, you don’t say here in the question but maybe sometimes they apologize but still you may not be able to put it behind you and move forward. The mind can be like that, it can just hold onto negative things sometimes. Even when we know that it’s not the right thing to do, it’s unnecessary. Even we may know it’s detrimental to us but still it can be hard to get these things out of the mind and forgive the person, put it behind and move forward.
The question is, is how does it affect your path to Krishna consciousness. A simple answer to that is that it has quite a big effect and it will slow you down. Prabhupada gave the example of someone who gets into a boat and they want to row across, maybe across the lagoon here for example. Now they’re rowing and rowing and rowing, all night, but in the morning they see they haven’t gone anywhere. Why? Because the anchor is still in the ground, they’re still tied up on this side. They didn’t really notice and they’ve been thinking “I’ve been rowing and rowing I must have gone a long way” but they haven’t gone anywhere really, not very far at all. So if we hold onto, we keep grudges, and remain attached unnecessarily to very material types of attitudes and so on then even though we may be trying to make progress in different ways but because we are kind of anchored in a material type of consciousness then it may affect us tremendously, actually.
I want to give you a perspective on such a situation and if YOU, if YOU can really accept this, take it into your heart, digest it and you thinking can change, in these terms, it will help you tremendously in dealing with such situations or even dealing with any type of negative situation.
Listen to this. Our example here is someone insults you. Someone just walks up to you out of nowhere and tells you that you are just a dot dot dot dot dot. Fill in the blank. Basically you are just too useless, you are just too hopeless and they cannot stand you. That may have happened to you before. So someone comes and does that and maybe even someone comes up to you and punches you. Now that’s pretty drastic, out of the blue, you didn’t do anything to the person and they just treated you like that. It’s shocking isn’t it? Certainly, practically everyone will feel abused, disturbed, and “why me” and “how could he do that” “it was terrible”, all these types of things, this is just normal in everyday life, such things happen.
Now I want to give you a different perspective. Listen to this. Why did it happen? How did it happen? It is just that this person came along, out of the blue, and just victimized you? Causelessly! According to Krishna consciousness, according to our scriptures, nothing happens to you unless in the past you did something which warranted that as a natural consequence of whatever you did in the past that this will happen to you now. Usually, as they say in the Bible, I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Bible. If you’re not too familiar don’t worry about it too much, just stick with Bhagavad Gita. They say “An eye for an eye” “A tooth for a tooth”. This is a famous, I think, Old Testament statement. It’s true, it’s actually true. That if you insult someone, in the future, it could be the next lifetime, even a couple lifetimes later, sometime in the future you will get insulted. Or if you punch someone then in the future you will get punched. This is karma, I mean this is perhaps a little bit simplistic but the principle is definitely correct. It may not be too simplistic also, it may actually literally be like that. So someone worked up to you and insulted you horribly and you’re feeling very bad, naturally, but why did it happen? Because you insulted someone in the past and now you’re just getting your karma. Yes. Or you hit someone in the past and now someone has hit you. This has now happened to you because you did it in the past. If you had not done it, it would not have happened. Understand that, try and accept that. If you had not done it in the past, it would not have happened to you. In other words what does this mean then? What are the implications of this? Someone just walked up to you and punched you, what does it mean? You’re just getting your reaction from having punched someone in the past. You have now got punched because you punched in the past, only, only for that reason. So what does it mean, think about it! Think about it. It means in effect you are responsible for getting punched, you follow? Or even you could say, in effect, it is like you punched yourself. You follow? Because you punched in the past you got punched now. It’s sort of like you have punched yourself. If you had not punched him but if you had given him a thousand rupees then you would have not been punched, you would have been given a thousand rupees or something like this. You follow the idea? You follow the idea? You know it’s a simple point really of cause and effect. Karma, we use the Sanskrit term karma which basically means cause and effect. Karma means when you do the activity then reaction to the activity, the appropriate reaction, suitable reaction is going to come. Not that maybe it will come, it is going to come.
Therefore in Krishna consciousness this term karma and what is means, sometimes Prabhupada our spiritual master, he would give the example of a coin. A coin has a heads side and a tails side, right? You don’t find a coin which only has a head side. Once you’ve got the coin, once you’ve got the head side you’ve got the tails side also and you cannot say I will take the head side but I don’t want the tails side. You can’t, there’s nothing you can do about it because they are two parts of one thing. They are not just two separate things. They are two parts of one thing, head and tail side of a coin. Similarly with our activities, that you do the activity and the reaction it’s built in. There’s no question of somehow trying to dodge the reaction, somehow cleverly avoid it, talk your way out of it or buy your way out of it. You do the action and you must get the reaction because they are simply two parts of one thing like the heads and tails sides of a coin. That’s a perspective. Try and think about this, it’s really important. If someone mistreats you or whenever anyone deals with you in any way, understand that this is happening because I dealt with someone in the same way in the past. It’s particularly helpful when you get in some difficult situation like this where you get treated badly, you get hurt and it’s a real disturbance in your life. If you can see it like that, that this is simply happening because I mistreated someone in the past therefore I should tolerate whatever happened, the reaction I got,
I should tolerate that and remain fixed in Krishna consciousness.
You know there is a nice verse in Srimad Bhagvatam, 10th Canto, chapter 14, verse 8:
tat te ‘nukampam su-samiksamano
bhunjana evatma-krtam vipakam
hrd-vag-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jiveta yo mukti-pade sa daya-bhak
“My dear Lord, one who earnestly waits for You to bestow Your causeless mercy upon him, all the while patiently suffering the reactions of his past misdeeds and offering You respectful obeisances with his heart, words and body, is surely eligible for liberation, for it has become his rightful claim.”
The last line, jiveta yo mukti pade sa daya bhak, that if you live with this type of understanding, that whatever difficulties come my way it’s just because of my previous activities, that’s all. I’ve got nobody to blame accept myself. If you see these things in that way then the verse says you really take shelter of the Lord, pray to the Lord, chant the names of the Lord and serve the Lord. If you then like that, live like that, then jiveta yo mukti pade sa daya bhak means that for such a person the kingdom of God becomes their rightful inheritance. Krishna becomes very pleased when He sees us relating with situations and our lives with this type of idea. He becomes very pleased and then the kingdom of God becomes your rightful inheritance. In other words you’ll go back to godhead. Just on the basis of living and thinking like that.
One of our great previous acaryas, great spiritual masters from the past, Sridhar Swami, he raises an interesting question. Listen to this also, about inheritance. The verse has said that if you live like this then the kingdom of God becomes your rightful inheritance. Sridhar Swami raises the question: What qualification do you need to collect your inheritance? When your father passes away, what qualification do you need? Do you need like a PhD? Big university degree. Do you need a master’s degree or at least a bachelor’s degree from the university of Mauritius? What qualification do you need to collect your inheritance? When your father passes away? The answer is, the only qualification you need is to be alive, to be alive, to not be dead yet. As long as you’re alive you can collect your inheritance. If you’re already dead you can’t. This is a very important point. All we have to do then, to go back to godhead, if we have this consciousness, is to stay alive in Krishna consciousness. Means we just have to carry on practicing. You don’t have to be some special important devotee, you don’t need something like that. You’ve just got to be alive, you’ve just got to stay Krishna conscious, that’s all you need.
Think about that please. If you don’t, if you get very caught up, someone insults you or somehow you get mistreated apparently and you get very caught up in it. You want revenge and you’re going to get the person, that sort of idea. If you cannot forgive and forget then your progress will slow down drastically. Even possibly stop. Even possibly you start going backwards if you get too much into negativity. Thinking and feeling negatively about someone else, particularly if it’s about another devotee.
(Transcribed from a questions and answers session in Mahebourgh, Mauritius on 12-12-2015)