What if I can't find devotees I can get along with?

Our Answer:

You're not alone. This has been an issue for many devotees.

Especially early in ISKCON's development, many people who were inspired to change their lives by Srila Prabhupada's writings were less than inspired when they came to the temple and started spending time with Prabhupada's other followers.

When you find yourself feeling a similar way, there are various things you can do. One is to remind yourself that everyone who somehow takes shelter of Krishna is a rare soul, even if apparently doing so for motives that seem less than pure. All of us in the material world are conditioned in our behavior in so many ways. "Material world" means the place for envious people. We're envious of Krishna, first of all, and by extension we're envious of all Krishna's parts and parcels. So it's no surprise that it's hard to get along with others, even others who are trying—on some level—to be Krishna's devotees.

The essence of Krishna conscious life is hearing and chanting about Krishna, serving His Deity form in the temple, teaching others about Him, and developing service relationships with His devotees. The spiritual world is full of Krishna's devotees, not all of whom necessarily "get along" with each other all the time. You can choose your friends in Krishna consciousness. The spiritual world has many different neighborhoods in it.

Sometimes Krishna puts us in situations that seem beyond our comfort zone. We may find ourselves having to associate with people we would never in a million years want to associate with if not for a shared interest in Krishna consciousness. Our own conditioned nature may want to react and rebel and refuse to accept such social austerities. But sometimes such situations are opportunities for growth. It may be that something that drives me crazy when I see it in someone else may be a problem I have inside myself but am unwilling or unable to see and confront. Often we're put into specific kinds of association precisely so that we can begin to see the areas in our own lives that need attention.

Srila Prabhupada told his disciples that they would show their love for him, especially after his departure from this world, by cooperating to serve his mission. Whenever and wherever devotees are chanting and hearing about Krishna and spreading His teachings, you will find that Krishna sends such persons extra mercy, enabling them to rise above whatever material discrepancies may be there. In my personal experience, I've been in bad moods, thinking evil thoughts about "this guy" and "that guy," but when we're in kirtan together, all evil thoughts disappear.

If we ourselves are doing our best to chant attentively and serve in whatever capacity Krishna arranges for us to serve, even if our desire for more congenial company isn't being met to the degree we may like, we'll be satisfied that at least we're doing our best. And then when Krishna finally sends people our way in whose association we feel genuinely uplifted and enthusiastic, we're all the more grateful.