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Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Familiarity Breeds Contempt
This is an old saying that means:

The more we know someone the more likely we are to find fault with them.

Srila Prabhupad used this saying and warned us about it.
Sometimes we are very fortunate and we get some very nice association with devotees.
We begin to feel comfortable with them, close to them, and we start to get to know them a little better.
At that point in time we have to begin to remind ourselves of this principle...

Familiarity Breeds Contempt.

Then we can watch ourselves and make certain we are not starting to find fault with them, and think of them in ways that are not conducive to spiritual progress, (such as fault finding) just because they have allowed us to become closer to them and therefore we know more about them in a personal way.
If we allow ourselves to do this, then not only are we being offensive in our mentality, but also we are very likely to loose that association.
Even devotees who were directly associated with Prabhupad Himself would fall into this (in fact it was much harder for them not to, because of this principle of familiarity).
Thus, we have been warned about it by Srila Prabhupad, and it's something we all need to watch in our own selves and be careful we do not allow this mentality to occur.

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Tue, 12/18/2007 - 15:55 — Gauranga
Gauranga's picture
yes its true

Jai Nitai Gauranga
i also fear this a ot
When i see pure devotees,i desire to be with them always
but i always get scared i may be familiar with them and see them as ordinary.but i also want to be with them
i get so confused
So what I do is,i hide and secrectly take the dust from their shoes and touch it to my head.ehehhehheh
jai nitai:)

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Thu, 12/20/2007 - 01:57 — Navasi
Navasi's picture

Hare Krishna, Dear Gauranga! :)
Well, it's so nice to see a comment from you!
I am so pleased that my post has been able to get a response from Dear Gauranga! :)
Yes, it's confusing, isn't it?
We love the association of other devotees, but we also know if we get too familiar and see them as ordinary then we will lose that assocation...
(maybe that's why I haven't gotten to talk to you in so long, I got too familiar and saw you as ordinary???? lol) :)
This is such a good point you're making, devotees are never ordinary, none of them, and their association is so important to us all...
So, the thing to remember, is to at least attempt to keep from viewing the things that they say and do in an ordinary way...
Krishna gives us "messages" through His devotees....
Great to hear from you Gauranga! Thanks for your input here, it's really wonderful!
Jai Gaur Nitai!!!

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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 06:21 — Jai Srila Prabhupada
Jai Srila Prabhupada's picture
This is magic :)

Hare Krishna, Dear Mataji,

I feel as if Srila Prabhupada has come into your heart and has made you post this for me. I really never knew that Srila Prabhupada warned us about all this. Everything you mentioned is so true. I have personally faced this with each and every devotee I get close to. When I come close to a devotee I just madly fall in love with them and due to this possessive nature the more I come close to a devotee the more I start feeling that the devotee is not being humble with me anymore, I feel that the devotee is now very rude with me and is also ignoring me. But due to your wonderful association I have now realized that the fault is only with me and I must be careful at every step. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. :)


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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 07:36 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Think Of This...

Hare Krishna, Dear Mihir,
That's very nice that you feel this post is so meaningful to you, I'm very happy to hear that. :)
I'd like to give you something else to think about it regard to your comments.
In this world, we are conditioned to believe that if someone loves us, and cares about us, that means they will be really nice to us all the time and never appear rude or ignore us.
However, in Krishna consciousness it's a little different in that sometimes we need to take instruction, or become more humble, or understand something we don't understand.
So, perhaps the devotees that you are speaking of are showing you a greater kindness in this way.
I'm not saying anyone needs to be rude to anyone else or ignore them, but perhaps what you are perceiving to be that, could also be that they realize that you have become too familiar and therefore it's not good for your spiritual advancement.
Then, because they do truly care about you, they may become more formal, or more removed for your own benefit.
Or, if there is something that they see that you need correcting in they will not hesitate to do it if they truly care about you in a genuine sense. :)
Krishna conscious affection is not based on sentiment, it's based on attempting to assist each other in our spiritual progress because we realize that is the very best gift we can give each other.
Srila Prabhupad was often very stern with devotees.... we looked at this as His great causeless mercy because we knew that He was giving us just as great a blessing as when He appeared to be more gentle and kind to us.
I don't know the particulars of your situation of course, but I just wanted to mention this because I think it's an important thing to keep in mind when you are speaking of the ways devotees appear to treat you when you develop attachment to them and become closer to them.
In other words, it may not be 'all in your mind' that they have become more "formal" with you, it may be that is actually happening since they would realize that "familiarity breeds contempt" and not want to allow you to have a problem because of this.
Navasi :)

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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 11:34 — Jai Srila Prabhupada
Jai Srila Prabhupada's picture
Thank you so much

Thank you so much for such wonderful guidance mataji. Your wonderful association has taught me a lot and now I have also realized the importance of associating with devotees. I feel one should also be very careful in not getting too close to devotees who they are fond of as due to this they can start finding faults and lose their valuable association.

Your Servant,

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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 11:56 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Consider This...

It's not that you cannot get very 'close' to devotees you are fond of Mihir, it just needs to be the right kind of closeness.
Closeness comes in many forms...
What is closer than having a devotee share their spiritual understandings with you or help you with your spiritual life??
That is the ultimate closeness.....................
Just look how close you and I are right now.... you're sharing all these personal things with me, and I'm sharing everything I know with you, and we're not even in the same country or even talking in person!
This discussion is all being done in public on the internet!
See, so that's real closeness, sharing spiritual understandings.
Navasi :) :) :)

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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 14:34 — Radwinters
Radwinters's picture
So true

Wow... I have gotten a lot out of this discussion and see so many truths in what has been said.

We could all learn a lot from this about our human relations in general. I think one problem can happen when we have certain "expectations" of a relationship. we must remind ourselves that we are in a relationship with devotees because of Krishna, not because of ourselves or our expectations. Therefore sometime things might be different from what we expected... but we must be ready to accept Krishna's will and learn from it all on a spiritual level.

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Sun, 12/16/2007 - 15:40 — Navasi
Navasi's picture
Nice! :)

Hare Krishna, Dear Rebecca,
Yes, all of this applies to human relationships in general also, not having certain expectations about how things "should" be and also being able to find a higher value in everything that happens within our relationships.
I really like what you've said here:

"we must be ready to accept Krishna's will and learn from it all on a spiritual level".

That's excellent!!! :)
I was talking with another devotee about this recently, and we were discussing something that had occurred where I had gotten upset about something someone had said to me....
This other devotee was sympathetic that I was upset (and that made me feel better :) but then this devotee pointed out to me that perhaps there was something that Krishna was trying to tell me and it came through the message of this person who upset me.....
Not that the message is always directly "what" that person has said, it could be something else entirely, as for me, in this case, I feel it was....
When this devotee told me that, they said that the messages we get from Krishna come in many forms, some will not be "pleasing" to us, but that doesn't mean that Krishna doesn't have any message for us in it....
When I heard this, I was then able to understand what the message was, and it benefited me to realize this and "act accordingly", which I did, and was then in a much better position spiritually than I was in previous to all this occurring.
So, that's all really nice what you've said, thank you for your comments here...