Devotee Relationships – Material or Spiritual?
At Ratha Yātrā festival, time, place and author unknown. If you know, please tell us!

Prabhu: Mahārāja, I have two questions. One, relationships between devotees, are they based on pure spiritual relationship or is there influence of one's material conditioning? And what if in the relationships between devotees the material conditioning or the previous interests before Krishna consciousness, if they become dominating?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, means if someone... Means, are the relationships between devotees purely... What do you mean by purely spiritual? What does that mean 'purely spiritual', it's like, just like Brahman? It's just like a light, you come into the room and there is that light, just gets bigger, like that? You know something out of like Star Trek or something like that?

Prabhu: That it's not based on one's material conditioning.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It's not based on one's material conditioning? So what would it be based on?

Prabhu: That we are spiritual souls...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: The fact that you are a spiritual soul, so how does one spirit soul interact with another spirit soul?

Prabhu: By serving Kṛṣṇa.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: By serving Kṛṣṇa. What are you going to serve with?

Prabhu: With the material body.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: With the material body, and that's created by...? What is that created from?

Prabhu: Matter.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Matter, but why does the matter take that shape?

Prabhu: Because of one's previous activities.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: One's previous activities, which are known as...?

Prabhu: Karma.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: And which are dependent upon one's...?

Prabhu: Modes of nature.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Which is indicative of one's...?

Prabhu: Conditioning.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Ahh! Right? You know what I am saying? That means, you meet another devotee and you pat him on the back, what are you going to pat him on the back with?

Prabhu: With the hand.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: With the hand, and then there is back, how  does that all work? Because that's all actually made out of the results of your conditioned nature? So how is that purely spiritual? Because purely spiritual is just, you know, two 1/10,000ths of the tip of the hair floating in the... Communing through, I guess, telepathy or something out of some sci-fi book or something. Do you understand? The difficulty comes is because we are conditioned we are  thinking spiritual means nothing like the material, right? Now, it is nothing like the material in its quality of mentality, or the purity, but in form it is going to be exactly the same. Mother Yaśodā wants to put on Kṛṣṇa's chaddar, she is dressing Him in the morning. What is she going to use? What would she use?

Prabhu: Her hands?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Her hands, okay. Now, let us say, you have a mother in the material world, devotee, but still in the material world, and as far as we know, not as specific as scheduled incarnation or something, so they are dealing with the bodies made out of earth, water, fire, air and ether, and their son is the same. Like not the same meaning in these impersonal sense that their one, but means, he is also made out of body of the mahā-bhūtas. Now, when she dresses him and she puts his chaddar on, what is she going to use?

Prabhu: Her hands.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Her hands. So this is a problem because we don't connect that mothers in the spiritual world dress their kids with the same kind of concept as mothers in the material world dress. Why would it be the same? What is the simplest, direct answer?

Prabhu: Because the principle of dressing is the same?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Principle of dressing, but  how has it come into the material world?

Prabhu: It is reflected

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It is a reflection, right. So the reflection is the same. You have a head, you look in the mirror, what kind of head will be there?

Prabhu: It is the same, but some things are opposite.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Same but something is opposite, okay. So that's it, it is the perverted reflection, exactly the same concept but the mentality is different. Mother Yaśodā is trying to please Kṛṣṇa who is God, the mother in the material world is trying to please herself or her kid. Where is God in it? That is the perversion. Reflection is the same. Mother Yaśodā worries about Kṛṣṇa's food and His protection and health, that He is dressed nicely, that He goes to bed on time, that He gets up on time. The mother here does exactly the same thing. Does that make sense? So when you define... Therefore, now let's go back to your question: how do you define spiritual?

Prabhu: That it is based on the mood of pleasing Kṛṣṇa.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yes, that's it. If it is connected to Krishna, it is spiritual. It is not connected to Kṛṣṇa - it is material, that's all. But the form between the two is the same. Do you understand? That must be understood, otherwise relationships can't be understood. That's why then it is that, okay, as a karmī then, as one of those, you know, stinky, smelly karmīs, right, then you meet somebody, you are nice to them, you say 'Hello,' you interact nicely and all that, you might shake their hand, or whatever it is you are doing. When you come into your house and other people are there, you will say 'I am here,' say this and that, right? No? Like that. And  because you are living in that house  there is duties expected, you keep it nice and clean, you keep your stuff nicely, you will do service around the house, right? No? Yeah. But now, that's material life, right? Stinky, smelly, karmī, funky, dirty, right? Now when we become devotee, now it is spiritual, right? So now we don't do anything material. So when we meet people on the street and they say, 'Hi,' we go, 'Ugh, dirty karmī,' and when we get into the house, then, you know, anybody talks, 'Oh, that's all mundane emotion,' and we keep our stuff however we like because we don't care about all these mundanities, right? Isn't it? No? You don't do that? No one you know does that? No? Pretty good. You have a nice temple here! [Laughter] Most everywhere else I know is whatever was that they did materially, they don't do any of that, so they lose all their social ability because they think spiritual means that it can't be anything material in the way of form. But what is that concept? That is a māyāvāda philosophy. If there is emotion in the material world, spiritual must be no emotion. Does it make sense? It doesn't make sense. Why didn't it make sense?

Prabhu: Because that is māyāvāda conception.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Yeah, it is māyāvādī conception, but the point is is then we shouldn't have any problem in dealing with anything in the material world because all that we change is now we do it for Kṛṣṇa. Just like, let's say, you have a car, okay, it is your car. Would you take care of your car?

Prabhu: Yes.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Okay, now, let us say, it is Kṛṣṇa's car, it belongs to the temple, will we take care of it?

Prabhu: Yes.

HH BVPS Mahārāja:  Good. Because the one I watched drive by every day in front my window, full of devotees, the back is all rusted and everything is falling apart. And I guarantee, if you go from temple to temple to temple, except for one or two temples, they are all falling apart. You go into the brahmacārī āśrama - it is falling apart; you go into the bathrooms and showers - falling apart; anything to do with Kṛṣṇa - it is falling apart, except the Deity room. And even that, it looks great this way. Ever gone into the Deity room and look this way? You know, here all this nice thing, go inside and look this way. If it is good, that means that people know what they are doing. But most places you will find back there it is a disaster. So what you look at is beautiful, what Kṛṣṇa looks at is terrible, except for, of course the loving devotees. The Deity room from the Deity's perspective is less than nice, right? And  what is the idea? 'Who is going to see it? God, but, hey, He is only one guy,' right? Do you understand? So where does that come from?

Prabhu: It comes from māyāvādīs.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: It comes from māyāvāda philosophy because we think material and spiritual are opposite. They opposite in consciousness and that you are conscious of God or not, but in activities they are the same. Does that make sense? So does that answer your question?

Prabhu: Yes. Second question was that devotees, they have some common background in the material existence, maybe they like some certain sports or certain type of music...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Like metal, for example. [Laughter] Just throwing out.

Prabhu: So, if that becomes very prominent in their relationship...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: If that becomes prominent in their relationship?

Prabhu: Yes, so...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: IF that becomes?

Prabhu: Yes, so, is it then considered a relationship as spiritual relationship or something mixed?

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Oh, okay, so if they have a common point from before they were devotees of a material particular liking, and if their relationship is based on that, is it spiritual or material? So, according to your first question, how did we define spiritual?

Prabhu: That which is pleasing to Kṛṣṇa.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Pleasing to Kṛṣṇa, that which is connected to Kṛṣṇa. So if that relationship, whatever that particular thing of the past is, if it is connected to Kṛṣṇa then is it spiritual or material?

Prabhu: If it is connected to Kṛṣṇa, then it is spiritual.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: If it is connected with Kṛṣṇa it is spiritual. So that...

Prabhu: Okay. If it's not...

HH BVPS Mahārāja: If it is not, it is not. It's that simple. You just like to drive cars - it is material. You are driving the car nicely for Kṛṣṇa - it's spiritual. You are doing the same thing, it is simply a change in consciousness. That is why Prabhupāda says, that famous speech, that Brahma Saṁhitā address, you know? And he is reading from the Brahma Saṁhitā there that... What is it? One doesn't have to change one's position, one only has to change one's consciousness. You change the consciousness, then everything else is fine. Then according to that change in consciousness then you will see what is the better situation for you. Does that make sense? So if the person is a businessman, he is doing whatever he is doing, you just have to change his consciousness, you don't have to change anything else. Or he has to be a vegetarian, no, he has to change his consciousness, become God conscious, understand the process of God consciousness, who he is - that changes his whole life, changes whole field. Externally they will still be the same but because now that mentality is changed, he is going to want to change his lifestyle to adjust with this mentality. Because which comes first: the gross or the subtle?

Prabhu: Subtle.

HH BVPS Mahārāja: Subtle, okay. So consciousness, which is the most subtle changes, that will change how he thinks and what his desires are, that will change the externals of his lifestyle, right? So we have to change consciousness, not anything else. Now, if we can do that through just explaining the philosophy, nice. But if not, they are not into philosophy, then they eat, take prasādam, you know, listen to the kīrtana, whatever will  put them in contact and at some point they will want to know. Does that make sense? Is that okay? So if you are sitting around with your friend, talking about what would be the best way to distribute books or prasāda at the metal concert, then that is not māyā.

From Seminar on the Science of Relationships in 4 parts, unknown date and place. Original lecture video were removed from YouTube

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