So here, the basic point Lord Krishna is making to Arjuna, is that we should not rush people, to try to push them too quickly to a level which is higher than what they are capable of maintaining. The devotee, understanding the futility of material existence may feel so enthusiastic to help the conditioned soul to achieve the transcendental platform, that he may push them too hard. But first of all a person…well, a child… before the child can run, the child has to learn to walk. Before the child can learn how to walk, the child has to learn to crawl. And if a runner, someone who can run very quickly, and who knows the benefit of doing that, tells the child, “Come on, just run.”… But if the child is not even able to walk, and if you let the child stand up, and then let go and say “run!”, the child will immediately fall flat on the face! So it is a nice sentiment, we would like everybody to get the maximum out of Krsna consciousness as quickly as possible, but we have to understand what levels people are on, and then try to help them in ways, which are relevant to them as individuals, in terms of their particular position.
I remember many years ago in England, in 1973, George Harrison had just bought one big building for our movement, and he was very enthusiastic about Krsna consciousness. He came to see Srila Prabhupada in that new building and he said, “Prabhupada, I would like to shave my head. I would like to move into the temple. I would like to become a celibate monk. And help your movement in that way.” So it is a very nice sentiment. And Prabhupada expressed some appreciation for that. But he told George, “Actually you know, you should just carry on the way you are, and sing about Krishna, and present Krsna consciousness to the young people through your musical medium. So, George Harrison did that. As a result, he was able to influence millions of people. If he had done what he had suggested he might do…stop his music, and perhaps…I don’t know…go out on the Harinam party, that would have been nice, but it would not have had the impact of continuing in the way that he actually did.
So Krsna consciousness… it is a very personal process. When we say “process”, immediately of course, that term indicates that there is a “system”, there’s a type of mechanics which have to be applied. And in certain respects, that is true. Everybody, whoever they are, they should all chant Hare Krsna. Everybody, whoever they are, they should read Bhagavad Gita. Everybody should associate with devotees, and take part in Krsna conscious programmes. So of course this is in the broad sense. But at the same time we have to understand everyone is an individual. There is a saying in English…it goes…”one man’s meat….”, well, we will say, “one man’s food is another man’s poison.” So every individual is in a certain position in terms of their development of their material consciousness. Some are attached to some things…
Actually, I remember also, in 1973, Srila Prabhupada in Bhaktivedanta Manor, in London…different people, famous people, came to visit him. And some, from the point of view of spiritual life, some quite unusual people came. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Graeme Hill. He was the Grand Prix racing champion of the world…motorcar racing. So you know, it may be a little hard to imagine driving these fast fast cars, like madness screaming around the racetrack, and spiritual life. But anyway, somehow, this man came to meet Srila Prabhupada. Well, he obviously didn’t know what to expect, Mr Hill. He sat down with Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada started talking to him about motorcars. Then gradually he took the discussion in the direction of spiritual topics. So like this, we have to be… Krishna is saying here… We have to be very sensitive to people and the situations…the conditions they are in.
Another person who came to see Srila Prabhupada at that time…this is the middle of 1973… was a famous-at-the-time singer, named Donovan. At the time, he was extremely famous. Now I think everyone has forgotten about him. He was the British answer to Bob Dylan. Anyway, he came to see Srila Prabhupada, and actually he was very spiritually minded. So he was listening to Srila Prabhupada talk about Krsna, and he was loving it. But unfortunately, his girlfriend was there, and she was hating it. And she was making these snide comments whenever she got a chance…and saying to Donovan, “What time are we going?”
So eventually she said something to Prabhupada. “Why you shave your head? Why you wear those long robes? Isn’t your head get cold?”…and she was wearing a supa-dupa mini skirt…You know, it was just too much actually, completely in bad taste by any bystanders. And she had very long, quite bushy hair. So Prabhupada looked at her… you know, she had her bare legs completely bare! So Prabhupada said, “Better to have warm legs with robes on…better to have warm legs and a cool head, than cold legs and a hot head!!” Well, I can tell you she was not happy. She just got up and walked out. And poor old Donovan, he didn’t know which way to go. But eventually he had to go with her.
Then later, some people from the British “Rationalists” Society came to meet Prabhupada. They are atheistic philosophers. So they sat down with Prabhupada, and Prabhupada didn’t really know who they were, but he just started talking about Krsna consciousness. And this one man, after perhaps one minute, one man interrupted him. He said, “You know, look, we are atheists. We’re not interested in God.” They were also ready just to walk out. But Prabhupada, being so astute, and so tuned into people… Prabhupada said, “Oh, you’re atheists! That’s wonderful! I really like talking with atheists. These religionists, modern-day religionists, they’re just sentimentalists. They just believe in things. They have no philosophy. But you atheists, you think.” Wow, these men, they were really pleased. Then Srila Prabhupada started to preach Bhagavata Gita to them, but without saying anything about God, religion, or any of these types of ideas. And these men…they maybe stayed for half an hour or forty-five minutes…they were so impressed. When they walked out, they said, “Thank you so much. That was one of the most interesting discussions we have ever had. We thought you were also just these religious fanatics who believe in things, but now we can see you are real thinkers and philosophers.”
So, like this, we have to try to think, because Krsna is all-attractive. No matter what type of person a person is, there is something in Krsna, which they will become very attracted to, because Krishna has ALL-attractive qualities, in full. So it doesn’t matter if they are, you know, sportsmen…Krsna is the greatest sportsman. And if a devotee uses his or her intelligence, then they will be able to present some part of Krsna consciousness that such a person will appreciate. If someone is an action movie fan…James Bond/Rambo and I don’t know who else…all those people…then Krsna, he is the top action hero. If someone, like so many ladies particularly, but all sorts of people, they are attracted to romance. Then Krsna, the story of Radha and Krsna, is the greatest love story of all time.
So really, all we need to do, is first of all, understand Krsna very nicely. Then try to understand who we are now trying to present Krsna consciousness to. And then try to see, what is it in Krsna consciousness that this person will find really interesting?
There is one story I’ve told many times before… one of our devotees were distributing books in Cape Town, South Africa, during Prabhupada’s marathon. Here in Vilnius…it maybe nearly -10 degrees celcius. There it was +36 degrees celcius…anyway, that is by the way. So there she is, distributing books. And she met this young, heavy metal boy. And he was really authentic heavy metallist, only wearing black, long ,oily and greasy hair, very pale skin, and on his t-shirt was a little thing…it was a skull. And it said…I love….well it was “I”, then a heart, and then SATAN. So he really looked the part…he was authentic. She stopped him, and handed him a book. Bam! He looked at the book, and he said, “Ja, okay, that’s nice.” Then he said, “Haven’t you got something a bit heavier?”
So she had this one book, maybe you’ve got it here; it is called “Dharma” by Srila Prabhupada. In the pictures there, there is a double-page picture of a man dying. And his family members are there, and they’re all wailing, and grief-stricken. And the Yamaduttas are there. Now the Yamaduttas, they make the best heavy metallist look like a “sissie” who goes to church on Sunday…like some, you know…anyway, you know what I mean. They make Frankenstein look like a philanthropist…you know one of the cannibalistic zombies from the horror movies… (laughs)… The Yamaduttas make them look like nice guys! So there the Yamaduttas are tearing, pulling him out of his body. And everyone is screaming…Yes, it’s a pretty dramatic picture.
The young metallist, he looked at that picture, and he said, “Ah, that’s cool!” And he gave about 20 meters, he took the book.
So many people, when they see a person like that, they’ll think he would never be interested in spiritual life. But because Krsna is all-attractive and because he has all-attractive qualities in full, therefore there is something for everyone in Krsna consciousness. And something for everyone means that for everyone there will be something that they will be completely satisfied with.
So Krsna consciousness is truly universal, and we have to just understand Krsna enough, and at the same time be sort of tuned in enough to people. To understand what is it about Krsna that this person will love? So yes, it is a matter of tuning in. Just like sometimes you have to tune in your radio, or television, or turn the dial to get the picture right, and then you get it, and it is right. But you turn it a little the wrong way, and it looks like rubbish. Krsna is everywhere, and there is something for everyone in Krsna. But you’ve got to connect with Krsna in the suitable way. Otherwise, if you connect in the wrong way, then the person will think, “What is this? I’m not interested in this.”
In regard to tuning in, there’s an interesting story. Some of you would have heard this before. This happened during the great American Depression, in the early 1930’s. It was financial disaster. Everyone lost their job. Everyone ran out of money. And they didn’t know how to live. And if there was a job available, then hundreds of people would come. Any job…even if they didn’t know how to do the job…they would take a chance, and try to do a job. So, the Western Union Company, needed a morse code operator…Morse code is a system of communicating, every letter is dots and dashes. So this is a way of communicating. Every letter has the equivalent in dots and dashes. So they needed a morse code operator and they advertised. Five hundred people came. So the boss said, “Ok, look, just line up, and I will see you all one by one.” So they’re waiting there in this big building and there was construction going on around them… people sawing wood, hammering nails, and they are waiting in line. And you know, one goes in, and when they come out, the next one goes in. But suddenly, one man right from the back comes running up, right to the front, and he just ran into the boss’s office, and all the other men in the line…they couldn’t believe it! “How can he do that? He can’t do that. He’s got to stay in the line.” And to make it worse, a couple of minutes later, the boss came out with that young man and he told everyone in the line, “Its ok, I’ve given this man the job, you can go.” So all the people in that line, they wanted to kill that young man. So then the boss explained why. He said, “We are looking for someone who knows Morse code. And you hear these people banging with their hammers? They are banging in Morse code. And what they are saying is, “If you understand this, just come straight into my office, I’ll give you the job immediately.” So you see, they were all there and it was going on right around them, but they were not tuned in. So they missed it.
So Krsna is everywhere and there is something for everyone in Krsna. But the devotee’s job is to help them connect with Krsna in the suitable way.
Therefore Krsna is saying here, don’t disturb people by trying to just drag them out of the position they are in. Help them to see how they can apply Krsna consciousness within their existing situation. And then even if they are ignorant, even if they are very materially attached, but if they start to connect with Krsna nicely, then they will start getting a higher spiritual taste. And once they start getting that taste, then they will really become attached to Krsna. Then they will start to make spiritual progress. But if you just force them out of their position into some situation which they are completely uncomfortable with… “Ok, you’re a family man, forget your family. You’re coming with us to the Himalayas. We will be in the Himalayas; we will meditate 24hrs a day, in the snow…with no clothes on. And we will not eat for the first three months. You are going to love it. It will be really spiritual.” No, it’s not really a good idea. But if you show that person how, in your family situation, how you can apply Krsna consciousness and share it with your family, everyone will be very happy…then they’ll accept it. So like this, presenting Krsna consciousness to people is a science, and we have to learn how to present it in these very personal and very considerate ways, and not just in a mechanical way. So this is what Lord Krsna is talking about here.
Once I had the experience of pushing someone too far, the wrong way. I was distributing books in central London. I met one young hippie. So I put the book in his hand. He looked at the book and he said, “Oh, Krsna? I know all about Krsna. It’s all one. So I don’t need your book. I’m following a spiritual path. It’s all one, so I’ve already got Krsna, so you keep the book. So ok, it’s all one. You follow this path and it’s the same. You’ve got Krsna, even though you’re not practising Krsna consciousness. Krsna and you know the impersonal Brahman, it’s all the same. Buddha or Krsna, no difference.”
So I said, “Ok, look. You’ve got any money on you?” And he wanted to know why, why is he asking me if I’ve got money on me. And I said, “Well, I just want you to show me if you’ve got money.” So he showed me maybe ten pounds. I said, “Give me the money for a moment.” He wasn’t very happy about it, but I said that he should give it to me just for a minute and I would give it back. “Just give it to me for a minute.”
So he gave me the money. So I said, “Look, you know Krsna or Buddha, it is all one, right? Doesn’t matter. Follow Krsna or follow somebody else, it’s all the same. So this money, if you have it or I have it, doesn’t matter does it? If I have it, it means you have it also, because we are one. So I’ll just keep the money. Thank you.” So this young man, he started getting disturbed…he started shaking. It looked like he was going to attack me…so I gave his money back!
So even though philosophically we caught him there, but because it wasn’t done really in the most suitable way, it didn’t really help him in Krsna consciousness. Because I don’t know what would have helped him actually…maybe just to give him some prasadam. But this is really the point. We have to really think about how to help people, in ways which are actually relevant to them. Hare Krsna.