The Relationship space
I found the following reflection by Sacinandana Swami very helpful. As always, what sounds easy on paper is not always so easy in action - but Maharaja invites us to begin training our mind in a new way:
Question: We may want to serve Krishna, but it seems so important to me that that we are not exclusively fixed on Krishna, but that we are also conscious in each and every encounter we have with any other living being. What do you think about that?
Answer: In Srimad-Bhagavatam (4.11.13), Svayambhuva Manu says to Dhruva Maharaja: “The Lord is very satisfied with His devotee when the devotee greets other people with tolerance, mercy, friendship and equality.” That means, the Lord is personally satisfied when one does this. Indeed, this is one of the very essential instructions of the Bhagavatam.
You find this again in Prahläda Mahäräja’s teachings to his friends in the school, where he says one must see the Lord in everyone and from this position meet everyone with tolerance, mercy and so on. You find it also in the eleventh canto where Lord Krishna instructs His dear devotee Uddhava, that one should see the Lord inside and offer one’s obeisance to all living entities, and that one should even be friendly to animals. So, it is a very important instruction in Bhakti and I want to give you a method on how you can be tolerant, and compassionate towards others, extent friendship to them and meet them with equality. It works by using the relationship space!
Have you ever felt it when you meet someone who really doesn’t want to meet you, like for instance a doctor who’s overworked? You come in with a really big problem, which you hope to solve with the doctor’s help. But the doctor just wants to go home and watch TV and relax. You don’t feel encouraged to even speak about your problem. The point here is: the doctor hasn’t anything, but he filled the space between the two of you with this idea: “I don’t want to see you really” – and you feel it.
Or some people fill the relationship space with expectations, that’s what most of us usually do – I expect something and the other person feels, “Oh no, I can already feel it; but I just don’t want to give you what you secretly demand of me.” As a spiritualist, you want to fill the relationship space with “You are a soul, a part of Krishna, just like I am.” Also, you have to listen to others without judging them. Leave behind the “You are like this, you are like that, I don’t like your vibration, etc.” If instead, you fill the relationship space spiritually, you will see miracles happen. Even animals can feel it. I’ve had this experience in Vrindavana. There, when I just chant and chant, for many hours all of a sudden I notice all kinds of animals come close to me. This is because the relationship space is free from aggression or fear which the human being usually has towards animals.
So when we relate with other persons, we can practice this relationship space thing. Try it a few times and then it will be in your blood and you won’t need to actively meditate anymore; you just automatically do it. Then, even when you meet someone who has a preconceived notion about you or feels uncomfortable with you for another reason – if you fill in the relationship space with “I see you with eyes of equality, we are equal, we are the same. These are all artificial differences, that I’m practicing Krishna Bhakti in this particular lineage and you in another. We are connected on another level” – they will feel it, they will open up to you and they will tell you amazing things about their life. This is very powerful and it works wonders. To get there, we have to move onto the spiritual platform which is beyond the likes and dislikes.
From a lecture by Sacinandana Swami, on August 15, 2020, in Goloka-dhama, Germany