"When we told our neighbors that our son was a Hare Krsna, they were mildly interested. But when we told them that we, too, were following the principles …"
My wife and I are Hare Krsna devotees. You can tell the world but don't tell the neighbors. That just isn't on! Seriously, that's how it is with our neighbors. Don't get us wrong: they're good people, willing to help in any household emergency, as you would expect good neighbors to.
When we moved into our present home [Brisbane, Australia] some eighteen years ago, they were quite helpful, and we found we had much in common, as we were from the same district in England. When we told them that our son Maha-yajna was a Hare Krsna, they were mildly interested, but shortly after, when we informed them that we, too, were following the principles, the suggestion of not eating meat, taking intoxication, gambling, or having illicit sex must have sent a shock wave right through the street.
In the past, on festive occasions they would share a drink with us. Now they will not share a prayer. We used to pass the time of day over the fence nearly every day, but now we seldom see them at all, and when we do there is not the casual friendliness there used to be.
But no matter: we get all the friendliness we need and much more by our association with the devotees at the Brisbane temple. We have friends from the past, but we have seldom visited them. We were too busy working to pay off the house and fill it with many things we didn't really need. Since becoming devotees we have realized how futile our past life had been and how we neglected our spiritual needs. Now, after (in my own case) fifty-seven years of conditioning, we are trying to find the humility to ask dear Lord Krsna to please bestow His mercy upon us and allow us to remain as part of His beautiful family.
To this aim, we are following the principles and trying to give devotional service within our capabilities, though this is only a drop in the ocean. But while we are trying in our own small way to go back to Godhead, during the process we are feeling increased happiness and contentment in our lives.
Having a son who is a devotee, we would recommend to any parents who have young boys and girls who have joined or are considering joining the Hare Krsnas, Don't worry what the neighbors will think. But get down to the temple and see for yourselves what a beautiful, clean, healthy life they have. Balance this against the streets of booze, drugs, gambling, and sexual diseases, and have a mind completely free from anxiety, as we have.
My wife and I follow the old adage "Don't knock it until you've tried it." We're certainly glad we did.
Many years ago in England we lost two little boys. We had prayed to God to let them live, but our prayers were not answered. We wondered why a God who we were told was so good could allow little babies and also other good people to suffer, as so many do suffer in this world.
We just lost all spiritual feelings and immersed ourselves in forgetfulness by working for a nice house and other material things. Then we moved again and again, striving to better our lives. We eventually emigrated to Australia and Brisbane, where by Krsna's guiding hand we one day found ourselves at the Brisbane Hare Krsna temple seeing for ourselves how our son Maha-yajna was living and why he was so absorbed in love for a God we thought had let us down.
We came at first once a month to visit him, and we talked to other devotees, who were very open and answered all our questions fully. We also saw videos of the Hare Krsna activities throughout the world. We became vegetarians and increased our visits to the temple.
Then Maha-yajna went away on sankirtana [traveling for preaching], but we still visited the temple regularly, because through associating with the devotees, watching videos, and reading Bhagavad-gita, we at last understood why we had lost our little children, and why everyone suffers.
We now knew what karma means: actions and reactions. We now knew what real love of God means not just kneeling and praying and saying. "I love you, God," but offering devotional service by dovetailing all our thoughts, words, and deeds in Krsna consciousness.