Association creates destiny

I changed the title of the blog from "Relationships are the key to success, spiritually or materially", because I didn't say what I originally intended. That happens often when I write. Certainly who we "associate" with is a person we have a relationship with. Yet in this blog I have focused on the general principle of the importance of the company we keep. In another blog I will focus more on HOW we relate to each other.

It is said that, "A person is known by the company they keep". That is true in any sphere, and certainly our spiritual life can sink or swim by the company we keep---or we could say with what we imbibe from our company. Associating with others really means taking up their habits and adopting their mentality. The heart is like a crystal that reflects whatever color it comes into contact with.

We want to use this principle to our advantage. If we keep good devotee association as much as possible (really appreciating it), practice strong sadhana (hearing and chanting about Krishna), and thus remembering Krishna throughout the day, then even working in the world with ordinary people will not be an impediment to our bhakti (devotion to Krishna). This is an art which requires practice and prayer. Associating with saintly persons is one of the principle ways we make spiritual advancement.

There are hundreds of references confirming this that we may ponder. After all Krishna consciousness is called, "Vaishnavism" where we worship the pure devotees of Krishna, who for us are Krishna manifest in the world. They are one, yet different from Krishna, and it takes a lot of study to appreciate how this is possible.

I am not at my home computer, so I can't cut and paste, but here are a few verses to provide food for thought:

"O twice-born sages, by serving those devotees who are completely freed from all vice, great service is done. By such service, one gains affinity for hearing the messages of Vasudeva."[SB 1.2.16]

"Every learned man knows very well that attachment for the material is the greatest entanglement of the spirit soul. But that same attachment, when applied to the self realized devotees, opens the door of liberation." [spoken by Lord Kapila to Shrimati Devahuti SB 3.25.20]

"Dust from the lotus feet of pure devotees is conducive to devotional service, while service to the Vaishnavas is itself the supreme perfection and the root of the tender creeper of divine love." [Sharangati prayer:Shuddha bhakata 1, by Thakur Bhaktivinode]

Lord Shiva told goddess Durga, "My dear Devi, although the Vedas mention worship of demigods, the worship of Lord Vishnu is topmost and is ultimately recommended. However, above the worship of Lord Vishnu is the rendering of service to Vaishnavas, who are related to Lord Vishnu." [Padma Purana]

"Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated self-realized person. Consequently, as the shastras [scriptures] confirm, one should accept whatever progressive path the mahajanas [great devotees] advocate." [spoken by Yudhisthra Maharaja in Mahabharata, Vana parva 313.117]

"The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that even by a moment's association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success". [Lord Chaitanya to Sanantana Gosvami in Chaitanya Charitamrita Madyam 22.54]

So last week we had the opportunity to associate with an advanced devotee visiting here and we followed him around the area to attend as many programs as possible. We felt uplifted and purified. We may have worn ourselves out a bit with all the traveling and late hours as both my wife and I came down with whatever flu was also in the area.

As we have caught this bug, we want to "catch the bug" of Krishna consciousness, and become thoroughly infected!!! When we are "infected" with Krishna consciousness, then we will have no more attraction for materialism.

Sometimes Prabhupada used this "infected" analogy, and sometimes he gave the opposite analogy, that by Krishna consciousness we protected from the infection of materialism, which is the real disease of the soul. Whatever analogy that is used, the point it that by associating with advanced devotees we become influenced by their consciousness, and begin to become like them.

This is one of the many secrets of success for making advancement in spiritual life: Find advanced devotees who inspire you. Hear from him or her, and see how they live. Ask them questions, and learn their devotional success habits and realizations. Help them in their service.

Of course to want to do this, you have to have some understanding of the value of Krishna consciousness, and those who are live it. The Vedic scriptures translated by Shrila Prabhupada, his disciples, and the previous acharyas are meant to help bring this about. Temples are meant to show how devotees practice these principles, and is also meant to give you resources for appreciating the value of devotional service or Krishna consciousness. And we bloggers are trying to share our realizations, and what we think might be of interest and help to you on your progressive spiritual journey.