Friday, February 27, 2009
Compassionate Reflections #7
Inspired by my reading of "Vaisnava Compassion" by HH Satsvarupa Maharaja
In his article "Prayer As The Groundwork of Preaching", Maharaja writes:
"Prayer is a mysterious practice...Every serious preacher knows just how dependent he or she is on Krsna. Each serious preacher knows his or her own inability to change anything or anyone in this world. Therefore, the groundwork of preaching is prayer."
Or as HG Gadadhara Pandit (The NYC Pandit) put it recently, to successfully preach means to rely on the 2P's: prayer and prep. Recently I spoke at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey at the intro of their Bhakti-Yoga club, where I conveniently forgot these two P's and stumbled my way through an indirect and rambling treatise on the most sublime processes of self-realization.
It wasn't a total disaster. The prasad was great, the students were sharp enough to catch on to the few coherent and inspiring points I was able to give out, and the program goes on, strong and growing.
My problem was that my prep was not in the right mood and not thorough enough, but more importantly was that I didn't pray enough to have the ability to speak nicely and in the right mood. I was distinctly over-confident, thinking I could joke and sloke my way through it all.
Now I realize more that I'm not much of a realized speaker, and I certainly can't fall back on my own limited merits. To pray, to beg and plead for the mercy of our beloved acaryas to flow through us, is something that can't be ignored or neglected, or stumbling and rambling will result.
Deep, focused, sincere prayer allows us to receive the realizations we need to preach effectively, and his prayer also allows us to become competent enough, to rise above our own limitations, to deliver this message to our widespread, diverse audience. Maharaja writes:
"Compassionate prayer is a broad concept, and it means more than the recitation of standard prayers. Vaisnava prayer is the begging for the heart of bhakti and then the willingness to let that flow move out towards others in some form or other. The Goswamis exemplified this mood. We cannot imitate them, of course, but we should not exclude their example from the example or instructions Srila Prabhupada gave. Prayer and the development of ones internal Krsna conscious realization-even up to the ultimate understanding-is part of the groundwork of the preacher's life."