H.G. Matsyavatar Das

Friday, 19 November 2010

Counseling based on a Bhaktivedanta approach - Interview given by Akrura Prabhu to Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu (Part II)

Akrura Prabhu: Therefore all this requires the development of eminently personal relationships?

Matsyavatara Prabhu: Certainly. Every person must be considered as a single world. A charming, universal conscientious unique being, different from others, with whom we can establish a unique and special relationship. No one must be stuck in a scheme or labeled as a certain psychological type. By viewing an individual in a schematic vision we can significantly diminish the help that we can give him. I would like to stress that this help is not comparable to a psycho-therapeutic cure. It draws teachings and spiritual values that can produce harmony, equilibrium and long lasting wellbeing to every component of the personality and in every sphere of existence (psychological, social, professional, etc. )

The available instruments of Krishna-Bhakti are formidable and extraordinarily powerful, but we must learn how to use them at their best by understanding how to apply them to ourselves. To do this it is important that we are encouraged to go deeply inside ourselves, try to really understand our feelings, what is against and what is favorable to our evolutionary process, and how we can better express our spirituality and devotion to the Lord. As it is explained in the Ayurvedic science, each individual has a determined psychological-physical profile: pitta, kapha or vata, at the same time in transcendent psychology, on the spiritual level, each one of us has his own rasa or spiritual sentiment that connects him to God in a peculiar way. By rediscovering that rasa, we can participate in ananda, hladhini shakti and happiness which is intrinsic in our original Love nature. And by realizing this rasa every negative tendency and behavioral defects disappear naturally. Consequently, discouragement, suffering, sadness, fears and depression will dissolve. Therefore, helping people first of all means helping them to re-settle in their human nature by stimulating them to do what is more in accordance to their nature, from which they can draw authentic satisfaction and benefits.

Devotional service means encouraging a person to center himself in his own rasa. If we do not stimulate the devotee to engage himself in his guna and karma coordinates and in the vision to realize his peculiar relationship with the Divine, he will hardly be able to live his spiritual life in a joyous and evolutionary way.

Akrura Prabhu: Therefore we must engage people in accordance to their nature.

Matsyavatara Prabhu: Yes indeed. This could be a priority even in relation to the principle of practical utility because this is the only way that we can really offer a good spiritual cure.

Akrura Prabhu: I remember reading a letter from Shrila Prabhupada in reference to this where He underlined the importance of acting this way.

Matsyavatara Prabhu: Yes, it is fundamental to comprehend inclinations and spiritual aspirations of each individual by helping him first with recognizing them. We must interact with each person in a personalized way. We could not act the same with two individuals, not even with twins! Each person is characterized by his peculiar nature and we must enter the same wavelength. This also includes the development of a peculiar modality of relationship, a modality more in accordance with our interlocutor.

Akrura Prabhu: It is a great principle, an important lesson.

How can you comprehend people’s problems and help each individual with expressing and facing his uneasiness?

Matsyavatara Prabhu: By establishing a personal relationship, sharing experiences, doing things together, educating him on how to reflect and weigh up his life and make projects for his future. This would help people with connecting even more the dreamed reality with the one lived every day by increasing their desire to overcome their limitations and to evolve by developing a greater sense of responsibility. One of the main causes for suffering is the inability to realize ones most intimate aspirations, the discrepancy between who we are and who we would like to be, between how we live and how we would like to live.

Akrura Prabhu: When and how do you generally include the importance of undertaking ones responsibilities?

Matsyavatara Prabhu: I try to make the individual responsible right away. He who doesn’t have a sense of responsibility, cannot aspire to bring improvements in his life.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Counseling based on a Bhaktivedanta approach - Interview given by Akrura Prabhu to Shriman Matsyavatara Prabhu (Part I)

Akrura Prabhu: I would like to hear of some fundamental principles that favor people’s spiritual healing.

Matsyavatara Prabhu: First of all we must distinguish between those who have already made a specific spiritual choice and those that have not done it yet and are not looking for a religious conversion, but they are interested in resolving their existential problems and finding answers and solutions to daily practical questions.

We can offer spiritual teachings to both of these categories of people, however using different approaches and modalities and in particular a different language adequate to their respective needs and interests. The common purpose of these helping relations is to favor conscience awareness of one’s deepest spiritual nature identity and favor a higher sense of living.

Akrura Prabhu: Please explain both typologies in relation to these helping relationships.

Matsyavatara Prabhu: I will begin by speaking of those that have already made a precise spiritual choice. When these individuals tell me that they have “spiritual” problems I try to convey to them that in reality there are no “spiritual problems”. Problems can arise on a physical, psychological or emotional level. Sometimes they can be on the economical, social, professional or in the religious life area, but not on the spiritual level. Instead, the solution of all these problems is indeed the acquiring of spiritual consciousness which is a vital state because it leads one to reach a superior point of view.

Crisis is constantly present in human life, however, it is the modality of our answers to crisis that makes the difference. Therefore, one of the first necessary steps is to help people to become conscious of their mental automatisms which lead to inadequate reactions to life events. A person must be helped with looking inside himself and become conscious of behavioral models used subconsciously and of the obstacles to his evolutionary path. Generally I begin this work by exploring repressed desires, trauma and fears.

Often we meet people that, in the name of spirituality lived in an immature way, have removed some aspects of their personality or dark episodes of their lives without making an effort to enlighten them with a superior conscience, thus solving the connected uneasiness and problems. Removing of such things is one of the principal causes of strong existence crisis and often they are favored by abstract pseudo-spiritualistic escapes. Uddhava Gita offers teachings in relation to this. It explains how spiritual life must provide in a way that cannot be put aside, the strict observance of sattvic principles that bring light, equilibrium and harmony in the psyche and personality in its complex. Such principles are important because they allow for a constructive satisfaction of requested and neglected needs, often removed much earlier.

Generally I ask people what they would like to do, how they would like to be, where they would like to live and with whom. These questions may appear simple and maybe trivial, however, the answers are crucial because we must be clear within ourselves and favor our spiritual journey by letting emerge those aspects of our personality on which we must intervene most urgently. For example, an uneasiness toward a job that we don’t like could arise. In this case it would be necessary to give teachings geared on how to overcome the attachment-repulsion dualism and on how to approach something that give us pain (dvesha).

Those who practice Krishna-Bhakti have many formidable instruments at their disposal to work on themselves such as Harinama japa, Meditation, Visualization, Devotional Service and Sat Sanga. The company of Bhakta, mainly those who are particularly evolved and experienced, is one of the principal “therapeutic” factors. However we must benefit from Sat-Sanga not in an abstract way, but through personal relationships lived with emphatic emotion in daily activities based on doing things together. This devotional service results in the best instrument of reciprocal knowledge, and allows for constructive, sound and extraordinary relationships which are beneficial for the evolutionary development of all.