In the month of Sep 2017, the students of Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha got the opportunity of attending the S.L.A.T.E. workshop, conducted by HG Radheshyam Prabhu. S.L.A.T.E. stands for Servant Leaders Applied Training and Education. He conducted workshops on two topics, an outline of which is given below. The sessions were filled with interesting skits, practical day-to-day examples, students’ interactions and many brilliant carry-home lessons and learnings.

Raising above the concoction of friend and enemy

This seminar was framed based on a purport by Srila Prabhupad on Vaikuntha Thinking.

It included various activities to expand the understanding of above principle. The activities were as follows:

  1. Mapping the characters from Srimad-Bhagavatam with their corresponding friends and enemies.
  2. Finding the examples of persons whom great devotees refused to consider as enemies.
  3. Finding the examples of persons who considered someone as their friend because the principle of sense gratification.
  4. Finding the examples of persons who were earlier considered friend, but then later became enemy because of the same principle of sense gratification.
  5. Finding the examples of person who considered someone their enemy because of having different material designation like culture, skin color, religion, etc
  6. Finding the examples of persons who even within religious movements, consider someone their enemy because of other material designations.

Other than this, there were several skits on the topics

  1. My way is not the only way
  2. Offer your best and appreciate other’s best
  3. Respect another devotee’s service
  4. Overcoming envy for a successful friend.

Each of the above activities and skits were discussed elaborately by HG Radheshyam Prabhu, with many real life case studies and examples. A few important points from the seminar is listed down below

  • Based on our own estimation of others we develop friends and enemies. Eg. My boss didn’t select my brother for the job. So, my boss became my enemy. Our own perceptions make others our friends and enemies.
  • Politics means who has more strength, more weapons, more followers.It involves considering someone as friend and someone else as enemy.
  • Prahlad Maharaj says except for the uncontrolled and misguided mind, there is no enemy within this world.
  • Unfriendliness with another is a very diseased condition. One part of the body immediately comes to help some other part in pain or requirement of help. Eg. If the leg gets a wound, immediately the mouth comes forward, blows air; hands come forward to clean the wound, etc.
  • A serving person is loved by all and lording person is swayed away.
  • Balloons may be of saffron or white color. The one with hydrogen will go high. Similarly those advanced in devotion rise high irrespective of their ashram.
  • If your mind and senses are in control, others will be submissive to you. Because it is our behavior which creates enmity in the heart of others.
  • Leader while solving problem of two devotees have to be more benevolent and reducing the gap between the devotees.
  • We should be happy and satisfied with god given talent. Everyone has some Unique potential.
  • Don’t develop unhealthy perceptions without clarifying. Assuming make ass out of you and me. People may be far simpler than what you may be thinking for them.
  • We just need to ensure that we are contributing something for the movement, small or big, but we should never compare with others.
  • Canakya Pandit says that If you want to be a good student forget comfort and luxury otherwise forget studentship.
  • What could you do towards them whom you consider enemies?   One can behave at four levels –
    • Give up hatred
    • Forgive
    • Forgive and Forget
    • Show Affection…..          The fourth being the most exemplary.
  • How we can tolerate with wisdom?
    • Do not think of them to be wicked but ignorant
    • If a mad man speaks something we cannot take it seriously. (Those in mode of passion and ignorance)
    • If there is a reactive response in us, that means we have to polish our qualities. (Improve our personality makeup)
  • The four steps of self-changing,
    • Self-awareness (Looking through the specs and looking at the specs)
    • Super soul awareness. Inner compass – conscience, gives a guilty feeling when we do something wrong.
    • Sacred choice (May not like to follow, but it’s the instructions of scriptures, seniors)
    • See future now and stick to duty.

Balancing the extremes in guiding

In this workshop, the art of balanced counselling and guidance was discussed, as exemplified by Çré Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra.

The workshop included an activity to find references from BG slokas, translations and Bhaktivedänta purports for each of the below points

  1. Master-servant relationship is sweet and transcendental.
  2. Krishna and Arjuna are one unit in solving a common problem. Arjuna is not alone.
  3. Krishna first listens, then instructs Arjuna; first diagnose, then give medicine
  4. Friendly Krishna inspires Arjuna to present his views without any hesitation.
  5. Friend Krishna becomes philosopher Krishna – at what point of time?
  6. Don’t preach unless hired, otherwise advise will fall in deaf ears.
  7. Enlightened master should elevate the disciple from lower to higher understanding
  8. Appreciative Krishna glorifies Arjuna’s qualifications as friend, son, divine, dear one, etc
  9. Honest and humble questions by servant and appropriate answers by master.
  10. Emphatic Krishna understands and recognizes Arjuna’s predicament without denying
  11. Compassionate and forgiving Krishna, always eager to elevate His servants.

He further explained the responsibility of a facilitator. It is not just introducing the person to Kåñëa consciousness but also help them getting solidified. There are various areas which require strong attention like education, training in morning program, balancing studies, sharing wisdom on spiritual as well as material matters.

He also highlighted the expertise expected of an expert facilitator, a few of them is as follows

  1. Exemplary standard of Sadhana, morning program and philosophical understanding.
  2. Ideal behaviour, follow Vaishnav etiquettes and not frivolous behaviour.
  3. Be able to discriminate what is small or big problem and be able to offer fitting advise.
  4. Deal in situations with mature blend of Boldness vs Sensitivity, Courage vs Considerate
  5. Weigh and decide what is important in specific situations – relationship vs goal to be achieved.

To bring about balance, it is important to cultivate mode of goodness. He spoke about the three modes of material nature and their influence on us.

  • A person in mode of goodness thinks and acts. Qualities like steadiness, regulation, balance, self-awareness is possible only in mode of goodness,
  • A person in mode of passion thinks but does not act. He makes policy, follows for some time, and then gives it up. He is very ambitious, hard-working, lusty, aggressive, is after glamour, eager to prove not improve. He is always in mood to competition and justification of his actions.
  • A person in mode of ignorance neither thinks nor acts. He is helpless, never bothered about improvement, depended on other and never takes ownership.

Also, the other important lessons from the workshop are as follows:

  • The freedom of the sacred choice expands in mode of goodness and is limited in passion.
  • A mind is like a parachute. It works better when it is open. If we keep our mind open to improve, then we grow.
  • You may carry the best of knowledge but you don’t have good behaviour, then it cannot reach others. That is why, we should present the philosophy and represent parampara properly by exemplary sadachara.
  • Change of heart require three things. One has to blend all this three while helping the subordinate to grow in kåñëa Consciousness.
    • Thunder – Chastisement
    • Lightening – Enlightenment
    • Shower – Compassion

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Bhagavata Pradipika #6

Bhaktivedanta Vidyapitha at a glance