A Spiritual GuideYour spiritual success partner who: Thinks of you, listens to you and speaks to you kindly in all circumstances Works alongside you with strong faith in you and your potential Assists you in making lasting positive changes in your life Supports you and encourages your spiritual and professional growth
A Spiritual Guide Encourages your service, recognises your natural gifts and talents, so that you can use them as a basis for your spiritual growth and material support Works with you and for you, not on you Keeps strictly confidential any information about you Believes in your inherent potential to be a pure devotee of the Lord.
The Seven Purposes of ISKCON3. To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the prime entity, thus developing the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).6. To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler, more natural way of life.
Be under the guidance of your elder brother Janardana and you will progress nicely. Letter to Sivananda - Los Angeles 21 January, 1968
… please act under the guidance of Brahmananda, so long I am not able to see you … Letter to Robert - Los Angeles 20 February, 1968
I am pleased to note that Girish is progressing nicely under your guidance. Letter to Aniruddha - Los Angeles 23 January, 1969
People are going to hell for want of proper guidance. Letter to Harer Nama - Los Angeles 15 January, 1970
One who gives personal instruction to each and everyone does more for others than the platform speakers do. Generally, whatever platform speakers say cannot solve the problem of everyone in the audience, nor can it always benefit every individual. A persons defects are better rectified in a private tutorial class or private coaching than in hearing lectures in a school or college. Therefore those who instruct particular persons separately can award them something more permanent. - Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, Amrta Vani, page 315
A Need! There is a clear need for more systematic and effective support and guidance of devotees - based on talking to hundreds of serious devotees serving in ISKCON.
Return On Investment People who are taken care of well and are guided well will tend to do the same with others in return This will expand our mission and grow our movement.
Holistic Or Complete Care Health Sadhana Service Relationships Etc.
This is organizationThat is the way of Indian teaching, that there is oneteacher, and how hes managing hundreds? That meansthere are groups. One who is elderly student, hes takingsome beginners: "Write a or A like this." That he can teach.What he has learned, he can teach. Similarly, next group,next group.So in this way, one teacher can manage hundreds ofstudents of different categories. This is organization. Notthat everything I have to do. I cannot teach anybody to doit. That is not intelligence.Room Conversation -- July 31, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)
This is organizationIntelligence is that employ others to help you. That is intelligence. Not that "Oh, I was busy, I could not do it." Why? What about your assistant? Train assistant so that in your absence things can be done. So the elderly students, they could be...Just Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to do that. When Hewas sixteen years old he could argue with KesavaKasmiri, because He was practiced. In this way, stageafter stage, everyone should be expert. Everyone shouldbe teacher and student.Room Conversation -- July 31, 1976, New Mayapur (French farm)
Purpose Educate and train devotees to live according to the Krishna conscious principles of their asrama. Provide systematic training in Krishna conscious philosophy, sadhana, Vaisnava behaviour, lifestyle and attitudes.
Purpose Provide a formal framework within which personal care and attention can be provided to all devotees to make them feel loved and wanted and part of a wonderful spiritual family. Foster warm personal relationships and a spirit of love and trust amongst devotees based on Krishna conscious principles.
How Does The System Work? Certain experienced devotees from the temple and the congregation are trained and nominated to provide support and guidance. Devotees from the temple and the congregation accept particular spiritual guide. Train assistant guides.
How Is A Spiritual Guide Selected? Be a devotee who has been in active Krishna consciousness within ISKCON for a reasonable length of time. Demonstrate a solid understanding of the philosophy and practice of Krishna consciousness. Demonstrate the ability to give balanced guidance based on Krishna conscious principles according to time, place and circumstance.
How Is A Spiritual Guide Selected? Be willing to extend himself/herself to help others. Has a spirit of sacrifice. Be compassionate and have genuine concern for the welfare of devotees. Be a good listener.
How Is A Spiritual Guide Selected? Be a mature, sober and stable individual. Demonstrate good standard of sadhana, etiquette, behaviour, service and commitment to the ISKCON’s mission. Be properly situated in his/her own asrama.
Becoming A GardenerWhen a person receives the seed ofdevotional service, he should take care of itby becoming a gardener and sowing the seedin his heart. If he waters the seed graduallyby the process of sravana and kirtana[hearing and chanting], the seed will begin tosprout.CC Madhya 19.152
Responsibility Of A Spiritual Guide A spiritual guide is a friend, supporter and guide in Krsna consciousness. A spiritual elder brother/sister. Takes personal care of all devotees in the group. Inspires and encourages devotees whom he guides in Krsna consciousness and monitors their progress. Provides Krsna conscious training to those devotees.
Responsibility Of A Spiritual Guide Assists devotees in both spiritual and personal matters. He looks into the overall welfare of the devotees. Conducts fortnightly meetings with devotees. Recommends qualified candidates for first and second initiation. Does not abuse his/her position as a guide
Responsibility Of A Spiritual Guide Provides useful input to the Team of Spiritual Guides and actively participates in meetings. Sets a solid standard of sadhana, service and behaviour.
4 Roles Of A Spiritual Guide1. Example2. Support3. Guidance4. Challenge
Training Of Devotees How to be ideal brahmacaris and grhasthas by keeping Krsna in the centre. How to maintain proper devotional standards at the temple or at home (regarding behaviour, sadhana, kitchen, altar, etc.). How to be proper brahmacari or wife/husband/parent/child, etc., according to scriptures.
Training Of Devotees How to balance economic and social responsibilities with spiritual vows. How women should deal with men, particularly brahmacharis and sannyasis. How men should deal with women. How to have proper attitude towards other asramas. A manual of Vaisnava Etiquette and Lifestyle is discussed in meetings.
Meetings Of Spiritual Guides And Devotees Vaisnava bhajans. A few pages of one of Srila Prabhupada’s books are discussed. One of the devotees makes a presentation and a discussion follows. Sharing realizations. Discussion on service, sadhana and Vaisnava etiquette.
Meetings Of Spiritual Guides And Devotees Any challenges or problems. Personal problems that require confidentiality are discussed in private with the guide. Kirtana. Prasadam.
Meetings Of The Team of Spiritual Guides• Discussion on sadhana (japa, waking up early, etc.).• Reading (philosophy, importance of reading Prabhupada’s books, etc.).• Vaisnava etiquette and behaviour (how to serve/honour prasadam, personal habits, discussion on 26 qualities of a Vaisnava, etc.). Different guides make presentations each time.• Caring for devotees (reports from various teams formed to care for devotees, if applicable).
Meetings Of Spiritual Guides Sometimes when the discussion flows spontaneously, more time is required. At the end, various management matters are discussed if needed. Prasadam.
Current Examples Chowpatty Mumbai Ukraine Bhaktivedanta Manor Stockholm London Soho
Benefits Train more preachers Increase book distribution Assist ISKCON gurus Not lose devotees Stable families Train spiritual leaders Krsna consciousness in the workplace Less problems and scandals Expand the mission “Boiling the milk”
Benefits Increase support network for devotees Increase preaching opportunities Increase congregational involvement Increase temple maintenance Ensure that the Temple takes into account the views of the congregational and temple devotees when making decisions. Facilitate loving relationships between brahmacaris and grhasthas or temple and congregational devotees.
How to start? Form teams of local devotees who are willing to be spiritual guides. Leaders support them in starting and developing a system by speaking about it in classes and forums and providing practical help. Take assistance from the European Team for Spiritual Guidance.
Fan the spark! Just like people come here with little faith. That faith is the little spark of fire. Now you have to fan it, fan it, so that fire may increase. Lecture, Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.2.12 Vrndavana, October 23, 1972
We require many boys and girls like you to spread this movement. Please do it carefully and help others to become Krishna conscious. Letter to Dayananda - Calcutta 8 February, 1971
Every disciple must make his own spiritual progress positively and help others to do so.Letter to Nayanabhirama - Bombay 30 April, 1971
So everything is there. Save yourself, save others. This is our Krsna consciousness movement. First of all save yourself; then try to save others. Or both things can go on simultaneously. Conversation on Roof - February 14, 1977, Mayapura
How can we assist devotees? In going from where they are to where they want to be, more quickly and efficiently than they would do it on their own Provide a framework for their self- observation, self-evaluation and improvement
How you can assist devotees? By together highlighting and engaging their worth, potential, talents and strengths By together discovering new options, opportunities, possibilities and advantages for solving problems and achieving results By together finding solutions that exactly meet their needs
10 qualities1. A genuine desire to help devotees succeed2. Genuine interest in devotees3. A greater interest in people than in things4. The ability to balance your own life and to put your own issues on hold5. Total commitment to devotee’s success
10 qualities6. Excellent verbal communication7. Strict confidentiality8. Being neither judgemental nor critical9. Being an explorer and provider of options10. Persistence
Goal setting“Our goal is Krsna, and we are preachingthe gospel of Krsna, Bhagavad-gita As ItIs”- Letter to Jayagovinda, Los Angeles 13 August 1969“Disturbance is due to want of an ultimategoal, and when one is certain that Krsna isthe enjoyer, proprietor and friend ofeveryone and everything, then one can,with a steady mind, bring about peace.” –- Bg 2.66 P
Start If you want to achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you have to start doing things you’ve never done before.
Goals A problem to solve or a result to achieve A minor or major change of direction Clear destination first The means and motivation
Two steps Helping a devotee to define where they want to be (setting their goals) Helping a devotee to reach that destination (achieving their goals)
SMART goals Specific Clearly defined Tangible, practical, Measurable quantifiable Inspiring Attractive Within your capacity Realistic or influence Have a deadline Time-bound
Writing goals The act of physically writing goals down (paper or electronic) reinforces your commitment to achieving them. A goal that is not written is likely to be forgotten Yale University study
Working with goals Write them down Read them everyday Do something everyday to move you closer to achieving them Evaluate your actions Create a support structure Meet deadlines Etc.
Exercise Choose a goal in one area of your life (spiritual, career, relationships, health, etc.) and make it into a SMART goal, write it down and share it with a devotee next to you or with a group.
Demonstration Help a volunteer from the audience to set and achieve a goal in his chosen area.
Relationship Let me become a sincere servant ofthe devotees, because by servingthem one can achieve unalloyeddevotional service unto the lotus feetof the Lord.”- Nectar of Devotion, Rendering Service to Devotees (SB 3.7.19)
Establishing rapportDictionary definitions: A close and harmonious relationship in which there is common understanding A feeling of understanding and sympathy
Rapport “Getting in tune with another person so that your mutual communications are totally successful”. Make it easy for a devotee to relate to you Show genuine interest Listen empathically
Rapport Excellent mutual understanding Trust Say what you mean Mean what you say Enthusiastic to work together
Interrupting Discussion that is going nowhere Negative line of comments Self-pitying, victim attitude
Honesty “If one is always acting under these three facts, knowing Krsna to be the Supreme Proprietor, Enjoyer, and Friend, then he is truly honest, and if one is not acting in this knowledge, then he is always cheating or being dishonest.”- Srila Prabhupada, Letter to Bhakta dasa, Tokyo 2 May 1972
What does it mean? Being totally honest with yourself Being totally honest with a devotee Comply with your spiritual beliefs, ethics and Vaisnava behaviour “Put on an act” for a while From a true place within
Exercise: Your Spiritual Ethics Think of a time where you were not truthful in a relationship and what were the consequences
A servant Finds pleasure in helping you succeed in your chosen area. He does this by assisting you in finding solutions to your problems and strategies for achieving your goals Sees you in terms of your potential, not in terms of your present performance or behaviour
A servant He is like a friend or teacher, leader or adviser who believes in you when you dont believe in yourself. One who stays with you regardless. Not someone who is too soft and permissive with you, someone who gives in to you, but someone who would neither give in to you nor give up on you.
Exercise Practice building rapport Add guidelines Feedback and discussion
BG It is said that He (Krsna) is the ocean of all the relationships exchanged between two living entities ... Bg 11.14 P One who works in devotion, who is a pure soul, and who controls his mind and senses is dear to everyone, and everyone is dear to him. Though always working, such a man is never entangled. Bg 5.7
Listen Fully understand the situation of the devotee Give them the space to understand themselves Listen first and seek first to understand Remain as impartial, open and objective as you possibly can
Listen Interested and concerned THEY are responsible for their lives Clear your mind of all personal issues
Exercise Listen to a devotee next to you for 3 minutes. You must not: make any sound, say anything, nod, shake your head or show any other signs. Repeat back your understanding of the key points they made. Ask a devotee whether you understood him or her well.
Asking Effective QuestionsThe purpose of asking questions is to:1. Understand your devotee well2. Help them understand themselves3. Clarify what they want4. Discover new options, opportunities, possibilities and advantages5. Identify obstacles6. Make an action plan
EQ What are your strengths, talents, skills, good qualities? What do you want? What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail? (question about an exciting goal)
EQ What one thing, if you would do superbly well everyday, would make the greatest positive difference in your life? (question about personal habits / best practices) What can you learn from this? How can you turn this problem into an opportunity? What and who inspires you the most?
EQ What do you want? Are you ready to pay the price?
Disempowering questions Why are you so bad? Why you don’t understand what’s good for you? When are you going to change / shape up / grow up? How could you do such a thing?
Tip After asking questions and listening, summarize what you have heard to be sure you have understand your devotee well.
Power of questions The question that saved concentration camp prisoner’s life.
Exercise Pair up as and take turn to speak about an issue.1. Ask relevant and empowering questions until he is certain to have understood the devotee2. Paraphrase back to the devotee to determine whether he has successfully understood him. The devotee should confirm it.
Turning Problems Into Opportunities“O Partha, happy are the ksatriyas towhom such fighting opportunitiescome unsought, opening for themthe doors of the heavenly planets.”Bg 2.32
Turning Problems Into Opportunities The way you see a problem or a task powerfully influences you action and the results you will achieve. Help the devotee to see their problems differently: as a blessing in disguise.
A turnaround expert What is great about this problem? What can I learn from this problem? What this problem is an opportunity for? If you would be a world expert on these issues, what would you advise? If you would be super-intelligent, how would you deal with this problem? What additional skills do you need to deal with this problem?
A turnaround expert Use questions as you see fit, in any order Induce a devotee to see themselves as expert in solving a particular problem and learn everything they can about it from various sources (spiritual, professional, etc.).
Exercise Choose one problem and turn it into an opportunity together.
Promoting Action“Factually, we should be engaged 24hours in Krsnas service andeverything should be done verynicely and perfectly.”Srila Prabhupada, Letter to Adi-kesava, Bombay 2 January 1975
Helping devotees succeedHelps devotees succeed in their chosen area by assisting them by: Clarifying what they want Exploring options, opportunities, possibilities and advantages Overcoming obstacles Making a written action plan Holding them accountable by requesting weekly reports
Holistic Or Complete Care Health Sadhana Service Relationships Etc.
Change To change their results, devotee needs to change their perception, their thinking and their action. To achieve things you have never achieved before, you have to start doing things you have never done before.
Success Success = Personal effort + Krsna’s mercy The place of action [the body], the performer, the various senses, the many different kinds of endeavour, and ultimately the Supersoul — these are the five factors of action. Whatever right or wrong action a man performs by body, mind or speech is caused by these five factors. Therefore one who thinks himself the only doer, not considering the five factors, is certainly not very intelligent and cannot see things as they are. Bg 18.14-16 O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man . Bg 7.8
Practice Demonstration Mutual assistance Share first with your partner and then with a whole group what you have learned and experienced both as a guide and guided
Helping each other Prabhupada liked to hear of his disciples helping each other to follow the instructions of the spiritual master . SDG, Prabhupada Meditations 2.2.3: Guru Means Heavy I hope we shall very soon meet again and help each other in the matter of discharging Krishna consciousness engagements. Letter to Satsvarupa - Delhi 6 October, 1967 … help each other to become better and better preachers of this Krishna Consciousness movement. Letter to Madhucara - Nairobi 25 September, 1971
Summary Attentive to devotee’s needs, interests and concerns Confidential Supportive Focused on a devotee being guided Personal issues Sharing realizations and successes Not a lecture Working together to find solutions Enlightening