Recently my guru Radhanath Swami was advising one of the leaders of the ashram to be careful with people under him. The leader is known to have led a pure life all his forty years. Not only is he an exemplary celibate and renunciate, he’s also very strict in practising spiritual principles. However being in leadership position there is every chance that he may push those under him to also live by his strict standards. In the past, few monks (brahmacharis) have been fried out by what they perceived to be his unreasonable demands. Therefore Radhanath Swami advised him to take care of brahmacharis even if they aren’t exemplary like him.
During the meeting, he also mentioned about mid life crisis in the life of monks. In many modern societies individuals in the middle age of their lives go through a period of self doubt, especially as their youth passes and old age becomes imminent. He revealed that some monks may feel they aren’t able to achieve much success in life, and also may fail to have had deep friendships with other equals in the ashram. At such times these few individuals may allow their past bad habits to surface and compound their misery of self doubt. Therefore Radhanath Swami advised this exemplary brahmachari leader to be always encouraging and loving towards all devotees although some of them may be struggling. He reasoned that constant encouragement and affection helps one overcome his self doubts and be firmly situated in spiritual life.
When I heard of this incident I realized how critical it is to spend time with other brahmacharis and serve them by encouraging them to go on serving happily. I love to spend time with other monks and encourage them. However often I am plagued with doubts if this is a wasteful exercise as I could be doing so much practical work that can bring about tangible results. However on hearing Radhanath Swami’s advise I realized encouraging others is an important service and is indispensable for the spiritual health of the ashram.
When I see my seniors unable to appreciate my enthusiasm in spending time with other monks, I should take comfort in the thought that God is pleased with this service, and in the long run, the merits of this daily exercise of encouraging others will be duly recognized.
I also now realize the most precious commodity is ‘time’ and everyone needs it badly. If you can invest ‘time’ in other’s lives, you make them happy and encouraged. If we cut corners and avoid giving time to those whom we profess to care and love, soon the relationships will face tremors. As a practising celibate monk, my life is for others; let me selflessly give myself to serve and please others.