Working at a New Age store means I get asked many spiritual, health related, and psychic type questions. People are searching for spirituality, healing, protection. I could have never worked here as a new devotee and youth. I have to draw on years of life experience and remain convinced of Krishna consciousness, yet open to present and hear truth in different ways.
Yesterday, a young couple came in with questions regarding protection from spirits who were causing them and others problems. They wanted stones or methods to keep some spirits, or "ghosts", at bay. They were disturbed and wanted solutions.
Chant Hare Krishna and read the Bhagavatam right? That's true, yet for anyone to accept something depends on their belief system and how it is presented. Since people on many paths come here, I often speak of general principles that won't be seen as sectarian. We may know that the holy name of Krishna is not sectarian, but not everyone will agree. So I said, "The reciting or saying of the name of God is powerful. When you do, all kinds of Divine helpers come. Pray for protection and for that ghost to be able to move on.", etc.
When giving advise from the Vedas, I have to say things like, "This is my lens or spiritual bias", or this is my experience. Sometimes people take your experience more seriously then a quote from the Vedas. That is why for some people topics about "near-death experiences" get their attention. We can use these experiences to help people understand that they are eternal, and that there are consequences to their actions.
I am up front about my connection to "Indian or Hindu" spirituality though it is not always appropriate to share this. Still, I often present methods from different traditions I am familiar with. For instance, there is a native American tradition called, "smudging" which is using burning sage or other herbs to clear an area of negative energies. In my experience there is something to this. We know the potency to some extent of offering incense to Krishna, and many religions use incense and resins in ceremonies to invoke purification.
Our intentions and faith have power in themselves, so add this to a practice like smudging and there is certainly potency there, and if people can offer their actions and intentions to God, even more. It is helpful in my work to know various tradition, beliefs, and what is popular so I can speak in an appropriate language. I work with that and add what I know from the Bhakti tradition that will be useful.
What works, works! Thinking deeply about things is essential, and not being reactionary. Few are ready for pure devotion, yet some mixed devotion in approaching God is still helpful. (see Gita 7th chapter). I have to keep an open mind while remembering the essence of what Krishna consciousness or Bhakti is.
Apparently there are two souls who became ghosts living next door to the couple---one committed suicide, seems tormented, and wanders the area, while the other one stays in the house. Often someone who kills themselves are waylaid in a ghost body for some time. The ghost has the same desires it did in a gross physical body, but no ability to fulfill them. This is a very frustrating existence, and sometimes these souls cause problems to people out of spite, envy, or boredom. They can especially prey on those psychically aware, the mentally challenged, or those who abuse intoxications (which weaken the subtle body). Ghosts are attracted by your fear or giving them too much attention.
In addition to praising the name of God and prayer, I recommended daily spiritual practice, seeing the ghosts surrounded by God's light, and certain gemstones and books. I did my best to reassure them that this was meant to teach them lessons and to take shelter of the spiritual dimension of life. I shared, "Since I began my spiritual search, I have never felt alone or feared for my life."
My job is all about being of service, and sharing my interest in people, love and well-wishing, prayers and whatever I am and know about spirituality and healing. From my perspective everyone of our "jobs" is to be of service to others and be a light to whoever we work with or meet. Life is about giving and going beyond our conditioned selfishness. I do speak of this often in my blogs, yet repetition is the mother of skill. I believe we all need to be frequently reminded about giving.
Although I am far from perfect in giving, I have a type of work that gives me a lot of practice. I have so many blessings. In fact we all do, but we have to look for them regularly, practicing gratitude and cultivating the attitude that Krishna is always working for our highest good.