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Counseling based on a Bhaktivedanta approach (Part I)

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Edited by Marco Ferrini

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.


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