Inspired by my reading of "Vaisnava Compassion" by HH Satsvarupa Maharaja
In his book, Maharaja stresses the importance of nourishing each devotee's individual capacity to best serve the devotees. Individuality is often shattered in the face of fanaticism and institutional immaturity, and its often misunderstood to be something that we should get rid of, like a weed.
It is our own individual experience, spiritually and materially, and the immense struggles we face in each arena that allows us to relate deeply to the individual experience of everyone else. From the piece "Misplaced, Mundane Compassion", Maharaja writes:
"When we preach, we immediately show compassion according to the spiritual master's direction and learn to sacrifice our own comforts for the well-being of others. Preaching is important; otherwise, our sense of spiritual compassion would remain theoretical. Still, there is a distance to move from the theoretical to the realized, and to get there we need to cultivate humility and self-awareness-to see how much we too have been suffering and in how many similar ways, how much we have been given by our spiritual master and how very vulnerable we are-before we can truly hear or understand what others are going through."
It is rather important, at this stage in my life, as a college graduate and supposed "adult" to figure out what the hell I should "do." For most people, that means a long and stressful job search and career path. Not for me! Well, at least not yet, but the idea is the same. How can I best use my individual abilities and talents, and how can I best use them in Krsna's service?
It is this "finding of our self" that can have such potency in our preaching, as opposed to a rigid, institutionalized formula. Maharaja writes:
"A compassionate preacher has to help others find the strength within to acknowledge their physical and emotional needs, to recognize their propensities, and to want to use those things in Krsna's service. Sooner or later, each of us will have to face the face that we have certain tendencies. If we want to really become devotees, we will need to learn how to engage them for Krsna's pleasure."
All I can offer is a heck of a lot of gratitude for the chance to live my life in the association of devotees, so that perhaps I may develop a deep level of compassion for everyone in my life and beyond.