A young person called on the phone: ‘I feel awful because I haven’t read many Hare Krishna books, and others have read so many. It makes me feel really bad. What should I do?’
There are many ways I could have answered this question theologically, and have in the past. It is a question that I had to answer for myself, many times. However, consider for a moment what type of relationship this young lady had with herself. Take a moment with that.
‘Not a good one’ I assume you may have thought. It is a ‘learnt’ relationship where in a situation of difference, she turned on herself like an upset parent ashamed of their underperforming child. In the mirror of herself, she was not enough, she was ashamed, and her soul felt unhappy.
When I asked her to imagine herself in years from now, to be her wisest compassionate self, how might she speak to this sad girl? In that moment she spoke perfectly, ‘I would hold her and tell her that she is a beautiful person, that I understand her pain and that everything will be okay. She mustn’t feel bad about herself’.
A watershed moment arrived with the glimpse of hope, an insight to where the problem was located. Not outside in the world of comparative objects, but rather inside in learnt behaviour. Somewhere at sometime she was made to feel so bad about herself, especially when compared to others. In moments that now reflect the same, the response was unconscious and immediate–’I feel bad about myself’.
Just imagine, Krishna is the ability in everyone that surrounds us. Wherever there is skill, talent, competence and wonder, it is a tiny spark of His unfathomable splendour. In what way could I ever compete, and by what standard is that to judge myself! I am a particle of that Divine Being, surrounded by his manifest potencies, in which, and if I surely look closely enough, I shall find Him. Through theology we can understand something of ourselves, but it is only by love or bhakti that we can grow. In committing to such a belief, it must inform how we then relate to ourselves.