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Psychotherapy and the Practice of Krishna Consciousness

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I have been speaking to a friend about how personal and spiritual growth can be related, or how our being balanced human beings in the mode of goodness is a good foundation for Krishna consciousness. Thus I thought of posting this article by my wife and I: Chanting the holy name and engaging in Bhakti-yoga (Krishna consciousness or devotional service) is the ultimate process of purification and healing in our tradition of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The process of counseling should be seen as an adjunct to the process of Krishna consciousness, and although it can be helpful for some devotees, it is not in itself the panacea for all our problems. The reason for bringing this up is that sometimes the question arises: “Why do we need anything other than our spiritual practices to be successful in our spiritual life?”

One answer is that we don’t. Only bhakti, can give bhakti, or Krishna consciousness. However, therapy can create a favorable mental environment for the practice of Bhakti yoga. A "favorable mental environment" generally means a healthy psychology which is balanced and strongly influenced by the "mode of goodness".

There has been much criticism for going to a “non-devotee” therapist. There is validity to this concern to the extent that the therapist doesn't support or understand the practice of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Putting that concern aside for now, what if a therapist is first and foremost a devotee and is a therapist by profession and as a service to devotees? What if such a devotee therapist is using therapy in the pursuit of helping a devotee in their spiritual life? If therapy is used in this way, then that therapy is part of Krishna consciousness because it serves it.

Even though psychotherapy isn’t innately spiritual or necessarily supports a belief in God, there is more and more acceptance in its' practice of the spiritual dimension to life. The development of transpersonal and other more spiritual therapies attest to this. In addition in the last 20 years we have seen a shift (at least in social work) from not acknowledging a person's religion or spirituality, to seeing them as a great aid to the process of therapy.

We can give our practical experience about the value of therapy with devotees. Sometimes even mature devotees come to us with relationship problems or difficulties in performing their sadhana due to their negative perceptions and feelings (anarthas). Often these devotees are “doing everything right” from the external point of view of faithful spiritual practice, and still they are feeling “stuck” in the preliminary stages of devotion. Or in other cases, the devotee’s mental disturbance is so severe that they are not able to perform their sadhana at all. In either case, there is obviously something internal they are doing which needs to be changed, and frequently counseling can be very helpful. These devotees have generally exhausted other opinions.

For more conservative devotees, psychotherapy itself (or any process not found in Shrila Prabhupada's books or in Vedic literatures in general) is really on trial since it is a material art that may on the surface disagree with the tenets of Krishna conscious philosophy. Therapy like anything else--such as the practice of medicine, law, architecture, etc--is only a tool, and it can be used or misused. One of the biggest fears against therapists is that in some respects they are in the position of being a type of Guru and they give spiritual (or “material”) advice.

This is a reality, and it means that ideally a devotee’s therapist should be an advanced devotee who is well aware of their great responsibility to give good advice. In some cases, this “advice” may appear to be a step backward to outsiders, yet the goal is a healthy psychology that fosters sadhana and wholesome relationships with devotees and others. In extreme cases the goal may initially be physical survival.

It seems we need to demystify counseling, or frame it in terms that are comfortable for devotees. What exactly is counseling or psychotherapy? Although we can label counseling in a stereotyped way based on its misuse, we see Krishna conscious counseling as a very specific and focused type of devotee association. This process allows a trained person (who is ideally compassionate, balanced, and also a devotee of Krishna in good standing) to help us change our unhealthy patterns and learn more productive ways of interacting with the external world, as well as helping us make the mind our friend and not our enemy.

Though our pure chanting and serving dissolve the subtle body (our material mind, intelligence, and false ego in which our material desires and anarthas are stored), it is generally a slow process. Our habitual mental patterns and attitudes often hold us back. They can become so much a part of us that we often don’t notice them or we think there is nothing we can do to change. Counseling is one way to facilitate change, and change, or moving toward our spiritual identity is really what spiritual life is all about. We should be willing to accept whatever will assist us in our progressive change or spiritual awakening.

Therapy and counseling can help us take better advantage of our spiritual practices. Though not everyone needs it, it can be an additional support to help us to remain fixed in our goal and avoid offenses that may be caused from unhealthy attitudes (anarthas). Offenses and anarthas feed off each other, and can become part of a downward spiral that if not addressed will prevent our spiritual progress, and if severe enough, will take us away from Krishna.

Below is a brief outline of what we understand to be the essence of the therapeutic process in Krishna Consciousness.

1) The therapeutic relationship allows a person to feel safe revealing his/her mind, since confidentiality is a basic principle.

2) The therapeutic relationship gives the devotee a place to vent bottled-up feelings that would otherwise come out in dysfunctional or destructive behaviors towards self and others.

3) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to confront behavior patterns that may be hindering relationships with others and sabotaging his/her service.

4) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to acknowledge anger, lust, greed and envy in a non-judgmental setting and together with the therapist can generate creative ways to tackle the behavior and keep it in check.

5) The therapeutic relationship helps the devotee to understand how the past, i.e., relationships with parents etc., have helped shaped his/her current perceptions and behaviors. This understanding can help unconscious patterns become more conscious.

6) When our behavioral motivations come into the conscious realm we can then understand them and make choices to correct them. They no longer have the power over us that they did when they were submerged in the unconscious.

To conclude, Krishna conscious counseling is meant to help the devotee deal with their presented problem in a way that is conducive to healthy relationships, and to their spiritual practices. The guidance of the therapeutic process can help retire anarthas, and enable one to chant and serve with more attention and purity. In this sense therapy can be seen as a strong rod to give support to the tree of Bhakti, meant to assist the primary goal of Krishna consciousness. In our assessment therapy when applied properly goes well with the practice of Krishna consciousness. The efficacy of any process can be judged by the result. If something is helpful to our spiritual life we can certainly see that as a manifestation of Krishna.

Combined comments from old site

Tue, 07/07/2009 - 14:07 — anjanadri.reddy
The guidance of the therapeutic process can help retire anarthas

Hare Krishna Pr,

Thank you for this well written blog. Your blog has provided me with a lot of answers as to how counseling can be a great tool in Krishna consciuosness, if used properly.

I also realized that the guidance that I have been receiving from senior devotees for book distribution, preaching, etc are in a way counseling.

Your point that counseling helps to retire anarthas and help chant Japa attentively makes a lot of sense to me, as I can see from a devotee here in Dallas who has been counseled for the last three years by senior devotees.

Ys,
Anjan


*Reply*

Wed, 07/08/2009 - 08:25 — Karnamrita.das
Self examination

Yes, practical spiritual guidance is counseling without naming it that. Part of counseling is facilitating self examination, and unhealthy negative attitudes that create problems in our life and service. In addition counseling brings to light blocks that imped our taking shelter of the holy name and in our relationships with others--and our self. Knowing we have a problem is 50% of the solution, for we can't try to improve something if we don't know it is a problem.

We want to accept whatever helps us in our spiritual life and give up what doesn't. That is the "acid" tests for the value of anything. We want to think long term in our life and adopt strategies that will enable us to remain a devotee for our whole life.

Though it is true that we may die any moment and are meant to keep this in mind, we also have to understand our conditioned nature and fashion a strategy accordingly. In a lose sense this is practical "varnasrama" or "right livelihood" or adopting a profession which complements our psycho-physical nature, and using this as our service to Guru and Krishna. This means becoming a balanced human being primarily influenced by the mode of goodness and endeavoring to become purified or awaken spiritually by our sadhana or devotional practices.

Prabhupada said that chanting the holy name is like boiling ghee--as we clarify the butter, impurities come to the surface, which have to be removed. Our guru or advanced devotees can help us to do this, or sometimes in serve cases, the assistance of a devotee or at least favorable therapist can be very helpful. We have to see our life in terms of getting feedback if we need to make adjustments. For instance, depression can be a sign that we need to make changes in our life to fulfill our potential or mission.

Some criticize going to a therapist because Prabhupada didn't specifically introduce this, yet to me they don't really understand what therapy is, especially with a devotee therapist, or see how many devotees have been helped by this process. Again, a lot of counseling is speaking straight Krishna consciousness, in kind, compassionate, supportive, confidential, and non-judgmental way so the devotee can feel comfortable to look at themselves and seek the solutions. Interestingly many people know what to do, but don't trust themselves. In most cases a big part of the solution is developing healthy self esteem favorable to bhakti. We teach people how to treat us by how we treat our self. Therefore it is helpful for all of us to take responsibility for our life, relationships and circumstances.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Wed, 07/15/2009 - 10:44 — tekisui
"Trusting oneself"?

Hare Krishna.

I would like to ask some questions:

Interestingly many people know what to do, but don't trust themselves.

What does that mean, 'to trust oneself'?

And if they really knew what to do, but didn't do it - this could only mean that they are inherently evil or incapable of action.

I would imagine that one needs to be quite highly realized in order to actually "trust themselves", does one not? Because otherwise, one is left to trusting one's mind, is one not?

And secondly, what one person views as "low self-esteem," "lack of self-confidence", someone else may view as "basic issues of epistemology and ontology". The two may then take very different approaches of addressing the problem, even two different approaches in formulating the problem to begin with.

It seems to me that some people who stress the importance of "trusting oneself", "having appropriate self-esteem," "believing in oneself" and such are actually suggesting that fundamental philosophical issues of cognition are supposed to be bypassed with some readily available psychological means.

And it seems to me such devotees then, who value psychology above philosophy, believe in Krishna because their "gut feeling" told them so and they trust their gut feeling more than Krishna.

There is a lot of "seems" in my post. Is that a mark of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, or a sign that some more fundamental epistemological problem is at work in me?


*Reply*

Wed, 07/15/2009 - 21:31 — Karnamrita.das
Core self

Trusting "yourself" means to learn to find and listen to your core self and core values as a human being. Though we are all eternal souls, even conditioned, unenlightened souls have a core self of goodness. Call it one's "authentic illusory self" if you like, but as an interim realization this has value.

For instance being in the mode or quality of goodness isn't in itself spiritual, but it is favorable for cultivating spiritual life. Most people and devotees who come for counseling have low self esteem issues. There are different levels of self esteem that are favorable for Bhakti. Though ultimately true good self esteem is from realization of one's identity as part of the Supreme Good, Krishna, finding your best sense of material goodness can be favorable for serve to Krishna. Remember that self or "atma" means body, mind or soul in different contexts.

We have to deal with our material body and mind while we focus on realizing our spiritual identity and relationship with Krishna. If we just dwell our "material badness" we will likely not take what is good for us on any level, disqualifying our self as to bad or fallen to receive help or mercy. To take help requires humility. And as I often say, we are not our bad choices or story. What we focus on is where we are--we give that power and energy.

Intuition (the voice of super soul) is the small still voice inside of us that when we hear it, there is a sense of peace and calm and rightness. Everyone has some access to this voice but if we have a lack of faith in our ability to be tuned in to the universal consciousness, we will ignore or discount the voice. Genuine self esteem comes from spiritual attainment--it is really trust in our relationship with Krishna.

It is not that as you put it, that we are speaking of how "fundamental philosophical issues of cognition are supposed to be bypassed with some readily available psychological means". Material cognition can only be bypassed or surpassed by spiritual realization. The only way to become convinced of spiritual truth is by experience, which if we don't have faith we can always explain away--even right in front of us. Our spiritual progress is gaged by spiritual faith, beyond our brainpower. The material world is the land of doubt, the spiritual world is the land of Divine faith.

Every path has its own philosophy and type of reasoning. We all have a karmic predisposition to a particular path, eclectic or skeptical perspective. Atheists, scientists, devotees, or whatever the religion or perspective, have their own reasoning which attracts certain persons. If we on the path of Bhakti are to make spiritual progress we have to have faith in a particular devotee, their reasoning, and who they are as a spiritual person. For me Prabhupada embodied what I was searching for, as have other advanced devotees I have studying and served with. They have captured my heart and overcome my doubts. Therefore, until you have experience of an advanced devotee who can capture your faith, answer your doubts and inspire you by their Krishna consciousness, you will never be able to get beyond your intellect. And intellect is never a call to action; only faith is a call to act. Without experience you will only be licking the outside of the jar of honey.

You are an intelligent person. It is a double edged sword--it can help or hinder your spiritual progress. Ultimately the spiritual purpose of the intellect is to become convinced of spiritual truth, to soften one's heart, and to learn the limitations of the intellect. One of the functions of the intelligence is to doubt, but one can take that only so far. Ultimately spirit is beyond the ability of the mind or intelligence to fathom--it is transnational.

In a sense to understand spirit and God, we have to get out of our head, and into our spiritual heart where the soul resides. That is one purpose of chanting the holy names and engaging in any type of service. When we please God, although he is inconceivable he will kindly reveal himself to us. The infinite becomes known to the finite by his grace only--never by intellect alone.

I always appreciate your questions.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


Sat, 07/18/2009 - 01:39 — tekisui
On help and homework

Hare Krishna.

One of the things I have experienced with people in general is how easily many will consider one to be evil or insane. Often, it is enough that one does the slightest thing wrong in their eyes, and they will, directly or indirectly, state or imply that one is evil or insane, or at least dismissable. How easily many people will dismiss others. It's like animals who constantly hunt and eat or are hunted and eaten - except that humans do it also in words.
And when surrounded by such people, it is hard to believe that things could also be otherwise.

I agree that to accept help requires humility. I think it also requires that the person to be helped accepts the helper's values and worldview. Not in all instances of asking for help, but especially in matters of spirituality or psychology. For example, if I ask someone to teach me Spanish, I needn't accept their values, but asking for help with an issue like self-esteem or goal-setting comes with accepting the helper's values. I think that for many people, this is a big obstacle when asking for help.

My worst experiences in life have been in relation to asking for and getting help. Many people are very willing to help, but so often, this turns into a manipulative relationship where the helper has the upper hand, using the problems of the person-to-be-helped as a means to keep them locked in the relationship and boosting their own pride and egotism.
"You are the one who needs help, therefore, you are the one who lacks, who doesn't know, who is lesser, and if you don't accept my help, you are a bad person and deserve to suffer. You should be happy with whatever I give you and you should consider yourself fully helped by that. I am good for you, and if you don't see it, you should be ashamed of yourself. You should forever stay in communication with me, so that you will always be reminded of your lacks and the need to show me gratitude for bothering to help you, even though you are such a worthless basket case."

It has been my experience that people often show the "darker side" of themselves (of course they don't think it is dark at all) when they seek to help someone.

-
"Therefore, until you have experience of an advanced devotee who can capture your faith, answer your doubts and inspire you by their Krishna consciousness, you will never be able to get beyond your intellect."

This sounds like a threat ...

-
So as to not just sit and wait on what you have said, I tried to capture the spirit of your post about the "core self of goodness", the "authentic illusory self", and did the following:
I reflected on what you said, and tried to come up with some affirmations or similar sentences, wrote them on separate A4 pages, and placed them in my revision system, so that now I will be able to regularly revise them.

(The revision system is actually a tool from the psychology of studying. In it, I place all the things I need to revise - mostly things for school and spiritual practice. I used to have two such systems in place, one for school and one for spiritual matters, but then decided that two was too much and joined them. This way, everything is formally placed under "Dharma practice" - the school work thus becoming integrated into my spiritual practice. I have always taken school work as a serious matter anyway, but spiritual practice not so much and I had all sorts of stuff there, even trivial. But now with the two in one, whatever spiritual topics I need to revise, I am more careful and more choosy, as the seriousness of schoolwork dictates that there be nothing trivial in the revision system.
In the evening or in the morning, I go through the things I need to revise for the day, and place them in each of the three boxes left to the system - one for school work, one for study skills, and one for spiritual practice, so that at the actual time of revision, I don't mix up the three, but revise one by one.)


*Reply*

Sat, 07/18/2009 - 18:55 — Karnamrita.das
Use or abuse

My dear friend. Sometimes I--or anyone--may speak strongly to make a point. As I have said I believe in you and want you to be successful in your life in general and your spiritual life in particular. If I didn't care about your welfare, I wouldn't take the time to write you. I hope you know that.

There is counterfeit money and real money, or real teachers and poor or dysfunctional teachers. So whether I or anyone else can be a teacher or support for you or anyone else, is for you or others to decide. I can only be a teacher or helper if someone sees me that way. And even if I am accepted as a teacher, I have to know that we are all students forever! I have to always remember that I a servant of my gurus and the Vaishnavas. For me taking the mantle of "teacher" is my humble attempt to give back to others and help devotees. I admit to being an imperfect teacher--I am no pure soul, and certainly I am not near as qualified as I would like to be, yet I am on the path of being pure, and am trying to improve myself. I believe the attempt to help other is good for me, and I pray good for others. Otherwise I couldn't write here in good faith.

I think you are right that to really take advantage of certain types of help, accepting the teachers values, or at least respecting them, or wanting to is essential. Otherwise why should you listen to them? If someone is giving advise to you, you should feel that their advise has some value. Or if you ask a question, you should be willing to follow that advise or really consider it, or why bother to ask? I really am not intending to be heavy here--or holier then thou-- I am just making some general points for your consideration. There are frustrations both for students and teachers. As I speak to you I am thinking of the topics as well. I am exploring the topics with you and appreciating the process.

The Vedic view of a teacher is that you can't separate a person's character from what they teach--especially regarding spirituality. If you have respect for me (or any teacher or devotee), valuing me and what I represent, then you will feel that I am trying to act for your good, without using or exploiting you--or threatening you. This is why it is important to develop a "relationship" of friendly respect with a teacher so you can have trust in them. Although as you have said this could be abused, not always.

From my experience if people don't believe and trust in themselves and doubt themselves, they will likely doubt others, and not trust in them. So after looking at oneself, it is a question of trusting life and people, knowing that some care is needed as there are some bad people but that generally people are good. The view of whether human beings are innately good or evil is a huge topic pondered by philosopher since the beginning of time. Personally I believe in people and I trust that Krishna will reveal to me, those I have to be wary about.

If we have bad experience with teachers or devotees, we may loose faith in the principle and have poor expectations, which could become a self fulfilling prophesy. I certainly don't want to make you dependent on my "enlightened" guidance or keep you down. I want to see you excel in every way. I am only trying to share my understanding, faith, experience and feelings in relationship to Krishna and bhakti.

I sincerely believe you are a sincere person, and I am happy that you have thought about what I am sharing with you, and are trying apply it. You know your own psychology best--at least in principle, and how to motivate yourself. I share what works for me and you have to see it it does for you. Whatever works for you can be accepted. Your school work can be seen as part of your service to God. That is what all devotees try to do--to make every part of their life as an offering to Krishna.

As I shared with you elsewhere I am rather poor with lists and can be a procrastinator, so in that sense it is hard to critic your attempt here at organization. However, I would recommend that that you put affirmation in the positive--what you are moving toward, not what you are moving away from. Instead of "I don't want to think badly of myself", one can say, "As part of Krishna, I have value and goodness, and I trust myself to discover my goodness and gradually embody that." It is also easier to begin something and more difficult to keep it up, so you have to think about what you will actually follow through.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita


*Reply*

Fri, 07/24/2009 - 05:10 — tekisui
Making commitments

A big fear of mine is that unless I am a mess, nobody will care for me, that I couldn't possibly have any value to anyone other than by being in a state of constant need, lack and stress. I think this comes from the way I was raised, where it often took severe, objectively provable hardship for others to take notice of me. I wasn't the child who made a scene in order to get what she wanted - that didn't work. Things had to be much worse than that, and they had to be such where it wasn't my fault that the hardship came about.

This certainly affects how I talk to people, how I formulate my sentences, what I say and what I don't say.

But I don't actually want to be a victim, helpless and such, I am disgusted with that. For example, in the books I need to read for school, the authors often criticize society and others, often in satirical ways - and this strikes me as a mark of self-victimization. All that criticizing - and for what? It appears because of a deep-seated fear that one is of no value to others, that one's life is meaningless, that one couldn't possibly do anything good for others, despite desiring so.

I suppose I often come across as "all head and no heart", as someone focusing and relying on the intellect and philosophy. But I don't think I really am like that. I think this head-over-heart is more a coping mechanism, a way to still have some kind of communication with others while trying to avoid victimization by self and others. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't.

You said -
"Therefore, until you have experience of an advanced devotee who can capture your faith, answer your doubts and inspire you by their Krishna consciousness, you will never be able to get beyond your intellect."

This still stands, and it still feels like a threat. Sri Sri Gurvastaka says that by the mercy of the spiritual master one receives the benediction of Krsna, and that without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.

I need to say more about why I feel it is a threat. Not because it is saying that on one's own, with one's own intellect, one cannot make progress. I am not against the principle of accepting a teacher.

But to me, it seems to imply "Be inspired right now, have the experience of an advanced devotee right now, get your faith captured right now, get your doubts answered right now, be inspired by someone's Krishna consciousness right now. Don't be choosy, don't study about Krishna consciousness, you should already know that. You have to make the decision now or never, on the terms we dictate and not you. Studying, asking questions, taking the time to get to know someone is a waste of time, and you are a bad person for doing so."

I feel there is a pressure of deciding instantly, of not being allowed to take the time to study and to get to know someone. That there is the pressure of instantly investing all my faith into someone without knowing about them what I think I would need to know.

I have had a lot of experience of this kind especially back in Christianity. Many Christians seem to think that one is supposed to decide about whether to accept Jesus as one's personal Savior or not in a matter of hours, literally. That one should think hard and deep for an afternoon or evening, and next day come back with a decision on what they wish to do for the of their life and for eternity. For example, wanting to read through the Bible before one gets baptized is not rarely looked down upon. "First get baptized, then you can read." If an aspirant doesn't get baptized within the first three months (or some such time-frame), many Christians will tend to give up on him or her.
As if to say "First commit, then check what it is that you have actually committed yourself to."

I have seen this sort of attitude from some devotees too.

Not that I am supporting procrastination; procrastination is a kind of gambling anyway. But I think that putting so much pressure on a person so that they make just some commitment is not healthy either. Such commitments tend not to last, nor are they satisfying.

I am not against some pressure to clarify a situation and to make commitments.

I would appreciate it, though, if those who are exerting such pressure would be more direct about their expectations and demands. Such as what exactly the object of the commitment is, when the due date is, what will happen if I decide one way, what will happen if I decide another way, what resources will I have at my disposal to help me decide, whether there are any mitigating factors, what happens if I commit but it turns out I cannot keep the commitment.

Vagueness kills.


Fri, 07/24/2009 - 09:29 — Karnamrita.das
Specifics

Nejka. Yes, I can see from what you have said that you might have thought I was giving you an ultimatum. I really wasn't--but I am sorry if you felt I was pressuring you to, "get with the program" or surrender immediately, or anything like that. I do believe that what you perceived as a threat--having the "experience of an advanced devotee who can capture your faith, answer your doubts and inspire you by their Krishna consciousness"--is the spiritual medicine everyone--you, me, and anyone coming to Krishna. I had and have that with Prabhupada, and I have that with other devotees who inspire me today.

I wasn't meaning do it immediately. I have to be more sensitive to your nature--and you to me--while also pointing to what I understand would be helpful. The basis of friendship is love and trust, and it takes time to develop that. I was stating the way from my understanding how to get beyond the doubts of the intellect. This is what happened to me and many devotees. Prabhupada captured our heart and faith, and we were able to really hear from him, and put aside our material reasoning to accept the inconceivable nature and sweetness of Krishna and his creation. Then after he left the planet, we had to think very clearly about what he told us and try to internalize it, "make it our own", etc. So the intellect has its place, but only so far.

Everyone one has their own time frame. I certainly wasn't trying to make you feel like a victim. That is not helpful for change. We all have to feel that with Krishna's help we can change, or uncover our real pure nature. We have one workshop titled, "From victim, to victor". Our victory is being under the loving shelter of Krishna and his devotees.

Those in the helping, healing, teaching field, generally offer their services to those who want it. They have some sort of need, but you don't' have to be a "mess" to get my attention. You get my attention by your desire to understand K.C. and explore your conditioned nature to see how it can be both a help and hindrance on your spiritual path. In a sense we are all a mess, to the extent that we aren't loving and remembering Krishna, or in material consciousness. However, I don't think of you as being in a mess, but as someone Krishna has sent me to try to help her understand her path. I need this service, so Krishna arranging to send devotees for me to extend my heart to and whatever I may understand spiritually and materially. Krishna makes perfect arrangement to bring people together to complement their needs and desires for service.

The more people know each other the better their communication. We are most effective when we speak to a person's needs, and not "at" them. So if you feel I am speaking "at" you, I apologize for that. I suppose in the beginning especially in a public forum it is hard to avoid, primarily because when I am speaking to you I am also trying to speak to a broader audience in general terms. That is why I may seem to be speaking indirectly. I guess our private talks should clarify that.

I am not saying I have to be "your" teacher. I was speaking of the general principle of a teacher and student. I wasn't trying to imply that I am enlightened--why can't you see that, and if you did all your problems would be solved, etc. I do believe that to get the most benefit from a discussion, it is helpful to have some appreciation that his person has something I can benefit from.

I think I am walking a delicate balance here, because I want you to have faith in some devotee and have your doubts satisfied and your soul touched. So it may seem I am putting myself forward, and that I am trying to force you to see it my way. K.C. can never be forced, but is voluntary.

There are many kinds of teachers--whether in a college or spiritual as an instructing or initiating guru--and you have to decide if you think I can be of help to you. I am happy to have a continual conversation with you, as long as you think it is useful. My goal is to help you feel encouraged in Krishna consciousness, and explore if from many angles of vision, and feel resolute in your determination. I am not perfect and I am learning from you. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and that you take the time ask for clarification. That is helpful for me.

I think we are running out of room on this blog.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita