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The Vivahamitra was started as an humble attempt to help the devotees to find their prospective spouses within the devotee community and so although, we used to get "Thank You" mails and...more

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Living a Balanced Life in Krishna Consciousness
Mar 26, 2008

Living a Balanced Life in Krishna Consciousness

Let’s first try to understand what is meant by Living a balanced life in Krishna consciousness:

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur states in Sri Caitanya Siksamrita that four items cannot be neglected by any devotee who has not yet reached the platform of Paramahamsa. He points out the need to adopt a gradual process of spiritual growth and personal development.

  1. He must maintain the body properly.
  2. There has to be the proper stimulus for the mind so that the mind is satisfied.
  3. There has to be social well-being.
  4. There has to be study of scripture for upliftment.

All four points must be there in a well-balanced individual!

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur taught us by the example of his own life. As the District Magistrate of Jaganatha Puri he was responsible to oversee the running of the Temple along with hearing many cases daily in the magistrate’s court. He managed to accomplish all this with stop-watch proficiency; still finding time to write all of his devotional works and raise a family of thirteen children- which included his son Srila Bhaktisidhanta Saraswati Prabhupada.

 

We have many roles to play - they all contribute towards a balanced life

We each have a number of different roles in our lives- different areas or capacities in which we have responsibility. I may, for example, have a role as an individual, a husband, a father, a teacher, an ISKCON member, and a worker. And each of these roles is important.

One of the major problems that arises when people work to become more effective in life is that they don’t think broadly enough. They lose the sense of proportion, the balance, the natural ecology necessary to effective living. They may get consumed by work and neglect personal health. In the name of professional success, they may neglect the most precious relationships in their lives.

 

Identifying Roles and Goals

You may find that your life will be much more balanced, if you break it down into the specific role areas of your life and the goals you want to accomplish in each area. Look at your professional role. You might be a sankirtan devotee, or a manager, or be engaged in temple service. What are you about in that area? What are the values that should guide you? Think of your personal roles - husband, wife, father, mother, neighbour, friend. What are you about in those roles? What’s important to you? Think of community roles - the political area, public service, volunteer organisations.

Living your life in terms of your important roles gives you balance and harmony. It keeps each role clearly before you. You can review your roles frequently to make sure that you don’t get totally absorbed by one role to the exclusion of others that are equally or even more important in your life.

 

Long Term Ggoals

After you identify your various roles, then you can think about the long term goals you want to accomplish in each of those roles; using imagination, creativity, conscience, and inspiration. If these goals are the extension of a mission statement based on correct principles, they will be vitally different from the goals people normally set. They will be in harmony with correct principles, with natural laws, which gives you greater power to achieve them. They are not someone else’s goals you have absorbed. They are your goals. They reflect your deepest values, your unique talent, your sense of mission. And they grow out of your chosen roles in life.

 

Stimulus and Response - Working in the Mode of Goodness

  • Between stimulus and response is a human being’s greatest power the freedom to choose.
  • We may feel like responding in a certain way but when we live our lives - close to our values -- we can subordinate feelings to values.
  • This will make us act responsibly. Look at the word “ response - ability” - the ability to choose your response.
  • A Krishna conscious person never blames anything- circumstances, conditions or other people for his actions. He is aware that he has chosen to respond pro-actively (based on chosen values) rather than re-actively (allowing the stimulus to dictate his response).
  • It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us. Lets say that again -- It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that hurts us.

 

Circle of Cconcern / Circle of Influence

Circle of concern - wide range - our Krishna conciousness, our health, our children, service problems, friends, the environment, the future of ISKCON, nuclear war, etc.

Circle of influence - As we look at those things within our circle of concern, it becomes apparent that there are some things over which we have no real control and others that we can do something about. We could identify those concerns in the latter group by circumscribing them within a smaller circle of influence.

By determining which of these two circles is the focus of most of our time and energy, we can discover much about the degree of our proactivity. (effectivity)

Proactive or effective people focus their efforts in the circle of influence. They work on the things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive, enlarging and magnifying, causing their circle of influence to increase.

Reactive people - On the other hand, focus their efforts in the circle of concern. They focus on the weakness or faults of other people, the problems in the environment, and circumstances over which they have no control. Their focus results in blaming and accusing attitudes, reactive language, and increased feelings of victimisation. The negative energy generated by that focus, combined with neglect in areas they could do something about, causes their circle of influence to shrink.

Reactive Focus - Negative energy reduces the circle of influence

As long as we are working in our circle of concern, we empower the things within it to control us. We aren’t taking the proactive initiative necessary to effect positive change.

Proactive (effective) people - Share in the spirit embodied in the alcoholics anonymous prayer, “Lord, give me the courage to change the things which can and ought to be changed, the serenity to accept the things which cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

Language and Thoughts of Reactive and Proactive People

The “Have’s” and the “Be’s”

One way to determine which circle our concern is in is to distinguish between the have’s and the be’s. The Circle of Concern is filled with the have’s:

“I’ll be happy when I have my house paid off.”

“If only I had a boss who wasn’t such a dictator.....”

“If only I had a more patient husband....”

“If I had more obedient kids....”

“If I had my degree....”

“If I could just have more time to myself....”

 

The Circle of Influence is filled with the be’s - I can be more patient, be wise, be loving. It’s the character focus.

Anytime we think the problem is “out there.” That thought is the problem. We empower what’s out there to control us. The change paradigm is “outside-in”—what’s out there has to change before we can change.

The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out: to be different, and by being different, to effect positive change in what’s out there - I can be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more co-operative.

 

Problem Solving

We can apply this new ability of focusing on our area of influence when we deal with problems.

Whether a problem is direct, indirect, or no control, we have in our hands the first step to the solution. Changing our habits, changing our methods of influence and changing the way we see our no control problems are all within our circle of influence.

 

The Problems we all face fall in one of 3 areas:

  • Direct control - problems involving our own behaviour.
  • Indirect control - problems involving other peoples behaviour.
  • No control - problems we can do nothing about such as the weather - things in the past, etc.

 

Direct control problems - are solved by working to improve our own habits.

Indirect control problems - Are solved by improving our methods of influence. Thereby increasing our circle of influence.

No control problems - Involve taking the responsibility to change the line on the bottom of our face - to smile - to genuinely and peacefully accept these problems and learn to live with them.

 

Focusing on our area of concern will do little or nothing to alleviate the problem.

Concentrating our energies on those things within our circle of influence will help us to become a part of the solution to problems gradually increasing our circle of influence.

(From: Success in the Grihastha Ashram by Jaya Sila Das)




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