Maturity in Behavior

How do I cultivate maturity in my own behavior?
 —Vedant Naik

Our reply: Developing maturity in one’s behavior is not an easy task. Maturity is based on the concept of balance. Maturity necessitates deep contemplation on what needs to be done in a particular situation and then balance this by thinking about what will be acceptable to those around us. Too much leaning to any one side needs to be avoided. For instance, in case of a verbal discussion between two people to solve an issue, in a conviction of being right, sometimes we end up being harsh in our presentation and do not help the situation. At other times, someone trying to avoid being harsh ends up not speaking at all and doesn’t help the situation in another way. Maturity is to present the right thought sensitively so that there is minimum unavoidable hurt and explain in a logical, convincing manner so that everyone benefits.

We recommend following three principles in your behavior for achieving maturity:

What I like to do: Activities within the broad realm of devotional service that are in accordance with our own psycho-physical nature need to be encouraged for sustainable long-lasting emotional well-being. Likes and dislikes when suppressed artificially cause an outburst of pent-up emotions at a later stage. Better is to listen to one’s inner voice and engage in activities that nourish one’s own nature. The sense of fulfilment that results by making one’s own contribution satisfies a devotee like nothing else.

What I have to do: Guru, sadhu and sastra recommend certain purificatory activities as daily sadhana for all. Considering them like medicine, we must abide by these recommendations even though we may not relish their bitter taste. Enthusiastic participation in sadhana is an expression of our sincerity to practice the process of bhakti. These activities prevent us from egoistic self-absorption in our own world of likes and dislikes.

What I am told to do: These are the needs of the institution. Since we are dependent on the society of devotees for our sustenance and growth in devotional service, we owe to the society much more than just a formal commitment. The institution guarantees support for us in the form of proper engagement for our propensities and shelter in times of difficulty. Thus, we also need to give back to the larger society of devotees what they require from us even if we personally disagree sometimes. Disagreements are only a sign of uniqueness of our identity as a spirit soul. In today’s age of quarrel and hypocrisy (Kali-yuga), real strength lies in unity. Sacrificing our opinions in service to institution reflects the degree of our gratitude for what we have received.

Balancing Emotions and Intelligence

How to use our mind and intelligence on the bhakti path in a balanced manner?
 —Somnath Vaidya

Our reply: Krishna consciousness is a process of developing and nourishing our original relationship with Lord Krishna . Nurturing a relationship requires a combination of background emotions and visible expressions of those emotions.

Emotions come from the mind, and this mind is a vast repository of impressions. Every single exposure to our senses viz. sight, sound, touch etc. is stored in the deep confines of our minds. In the course of life, all of us have experienced how these impressions hit us back at the slightest sensual trigger. Thus, whenever we use our minds, this usually leads to a sudden overwhelming flood of information in the form of past impressions. This exposure leads to endless reflection on the huge data, and without proper discriminatory power this eventually leads to confusion. We can see this cycle being enacted in the lives of emotional people. For instance, emotional people usually seem to be caught in an endless cycle of thoughts and are unable to arrive at any meaningful conclusion.

Intelligence, on the other hand, is discriminatory. When presented with two choices, intelligence chooses the correct option. It empowers us to make faultless decisions. Intelligent people are usually known to be highly efficient in getting things done. But overuse of intelligence also leads to relationship issues. For instance, efficient people, in their endeavor for perfection, many times end up hurting people.

We need to use both mind and intelligence. Emotions, when not expressed intelligently at the proper time, create doubts about the sincerity of a relationship. At such times, intelligence comes to the rescue. When properly used, intelligence aids the mind in expressing the emotions generated in the mind. On the other hand, decisions when devoid of emotions eventually will starve a relationship to death. The other person cannot be satisfied just with things but needs some emotional exchanges too. Mind helps such an intellectual person and when properly used aids intelligence by giving proof of an emotional basis of the decisions taken. A person decides (and expresses) because of background emotions whereas emotions are fostered more by proper decisions (to express emotions). By employing our mind and intelligence both, we cultivate a relationship properly.

From the perspective of bhakti, when we become too mechanical in our relationship with Krishna , we should realize that it is time to cultivate more emotions. When we become too sentimental in our relationship with Krishna and become lazy just thinking about different things, we should get up and do something practical to serve Him. In this manner, bhakti, or our relationship with Krishna , flourishes by the combined use of mind and intelligence.

Lord Krishna mentions in the Bhagavad-gita (10.8) this combination of mind and intelligence twice. He uses the term budha-bhava. In Bhagavad-gita (8.7), He uses the term mano-buddhiu. Lord Krishna doesn’t want us to be one-sided in bhakti — neither too emotional nor too intellectual. Proper use of both is necessary in service to Krishna .

Replies were written by Nanda Dulal Dasa