Bhakti-vrksa Preaching Workshop

Student Handbook

Congregational Development Ministry

International Society for Krishna Consciousness Founder-Acarya: His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Bhakti-vrksa Preaching Workshop Course Schedule
Day One - Underlying Principles Lesson 1 - 7 Purposes of ISKCON and Congregational Development Lesson 2 - Principles of Congregational Preaching Lesson 3 - Training Culture Lesson 4 - Caring Culture Day Two - The Bhakti-vrksa Program Lesson 5 - What Makes a Real Bhakti-vrksa Group? Lesson 6 - Starting the Bhakti-vrksa Program; the Structure Lesson 7 - The Broad Strategy (part 1) Lesson 8 - The Broad Strategy (part 2) Day Three - Facilitating the Weekly Meeting Lesson 9 - The Bhakti-vrksa Group Servant-leader Lesson 10 - The Six Parts of the Weekly Meeting Lesson 11 - Facilitating the Discussion (part 1) Lesson 12 - Facilitating the Discussion (part 2) Day Four - Interpersonal Skills Lesson 13 - Improving Relations Lesson 14 - Leadership and Delegation Lesson 15 - Listening Skills (part 1) Lesson 16 - Listening Skills (part 2) Day Five - Various Related Subjects Lesson 17 - The Sunday Feast and its Potential Lesson 18 - The Siksa Program; Financial Matters Lesson 19 - Car Park Lesson 20 - Course Completion

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……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… Principles of Congregational Preaching 4 . Consider your objectives and expectations: why are you attending? What do you hope to get out of this course? What would you like to be able to do by the end of the course? By the end of the course I would like to be able to: 1. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 3. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 2.My Main Expectations We are at the beginning of the course.

Seven Purposes of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness Srila Prabhupada enunciated these purposes of ISKCON when he incorporated the Society. To bring the members of the Society together with one another and nearer to Krishna. 5 . and thus develop the idea within the members and humanity at large that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna). ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 2. ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 3. 1. and to achieve real unity and peace in the world. To propagate consciousness of Krishna as it is revealed in the Bhagavad-gita and in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. in July 1966. To systematically propagate spiritual knowledge to the society at large and to educate all people in the techniques of spiritual life in order to check the imbalance of values in life. To teach and encourage the Sankirtana movement of congregational chanting of the holy names of God as revealed in the teachings of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 4. the prime entity.

dedicated to the Personality of Krishna. ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 6 . To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life. With a view towards achieving the aforementioned purposes. To erect for the members and for the society at large. books and other writings. ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 6. magazines. to publish and distribute periodicals.………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 5. ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 7. a holy place of transcendental pastimes.

9. Adi-lila. –Caitanya-caritamrta. Hare Rama. It doesn’t matter. Madhya-lila. One only has to follow the 7 .” – Caitanya-caritamrta. Nor is it necessary for one to change status. One may remain a householder. place or situation. …The Krsna consciousness movement is trying to elevate human society to the perfection of life by pursuing the method described by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in His advice to the brahmana Kurma. 7. The cult of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is explained here very nicely. Rama Rama. an engineer or whatever.Selected Quotations (Lord Caitanya said) “I am the only gardener. How many places can I go? How many fruits can I pick and distribute?” Here Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu indicates that the distribution of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra should be performed by combined forces. Hare Hare. Hare Krsna." This is the sublime mission of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. One can remain comfortably in his residence. Hare Hare/ Hare Rama. One who surrenders to Him and is ready to follow Him with heart and soul does not need to change his location. “Therefore I order every man within this universe to accept this Krsna consciousness movement and distribute it everywhere. chant the Hare Krsna mantra and preach the instructions of Krsna as they are given in Bhagavad-gita and SrimadBhagavatam. but that is not our mission.Bhagavatam. a medical practitioner. In this way become a spiritual master and try to liberate everyone in this land. That is. Many people come and inquire whether they have to give up family life to join the Society.128 At whosoever’s house Sri Caitanya accepted His alms by taking prasada. We simply request everyone to chant the maha-mantra: Hare Krsna. He would convert the dwellers to His sankirtana movement and advise them just as He advised the brahmana named Kurma. …All classes of devotees should combine to distribute the Hare Krsna maha-mantra without consideration of the time. that is so much the better.34 & 36 yare dekha. one should stay at home. Krsna Krsna. If one is a little literate and can read Bhagavad-gita As It Is and Srimad. tare kaha `krsna'-upadesa amara ajnaya guru hana tara' ei desa (Lord Caitanya told the brahmana Kurma) "Instruct everyone to follow the orders of Lord Sri Krsna as they are given in Bhagavadgita and Srtmad-Bhagavatam.

130 The temple center is started just to present example to the neighboring residents how they can make a small temple in each and every home.My request to you is that you enter into the universities and colleges wherever possible and preach there with a view to recruiting some firstclass devotees for helping me manage and push on this movement all over the world. step by step. but if we can make effective propaganda. will be inclined to be initiated and follow the modes of temple life.. like that. 1969 . and how many of them coming forward? So it requires training." -Srila Prabhupada's letter. chant the Hare Krsna mahamantra and instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of Bhagavadgita and Srimad-Bhagavatam.. then the neighboring residents. that is. 14 April. or I have got some skill or talent. No. and I must not be discouraged by too much forcing me at first to accept everything of shaving the head. -Srila Prabhupada’s letter. they are reading. going for street sankirtana. a person cannot be renounced. therefore gradually. Bombay. let me come gradually. not that our place should be the only place for the people to come.. . –Caitanya-caritamrta. householders. very tactfully.instruction of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. 7.The secret will be to engage them as they like to be engaged. supposing I have got some education. evening darsana. It is not necessary that hundreds and thousands of people will live in our temple.. then establish the same thing at home. 1972 Immediately. 1 June. let me study also Krishna Consciousness and see how it is practical and sublime.. 14 August . Madhya-lila. so I will like to utilize these things for Krishna only if I am encouraged in a certain way. No. So unless there is proper training. 1972 We want every house to be a temple. rising very early. this should be the process: that they learn at our place. Training is essential to make them Krsna conscious. -Srila Prabhupada's letter. -Srila Prabhupada. 13 December. I am typist or musician or something like that. I am business student. 1976 8 . Now just like we are selling millions copies of these books..

……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. how much did you feel your training and education was a priority for your direct authorities? Tick what applies: Ì I felt that my training was a top priority for my direct authorities. Ì My training was somewhat neglected by my direct authorities. Ì My authorities cared about my training. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………….Training Culture Survey Please answer the following questions according to your personal experience and understanding. 2. 2. Ì Other (please specify) ……………………………………………… What are the two main consequences that could result from neglecting training of temple devotees? 1. but I feel they should have cared more. 2. What are the two main consequences that could result from implementing a more systematic training of temple devotees? 1. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. What are the two main consequences that could result from neglecting training of congregational devotees? 1. 9 . ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. Ì My authorities seriously neglected my training. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. Upon joining ISKCON (if you weren’t born in a family of devotees).

2. 2. Just like milk. boil the milk. by discussing always.” -Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Hamsaduta. and in so many ways instruct them in the right propositions. 1972 “Now I want that we shall concentrate on making our devotees Krishna conscious and ourselves becoming Krishna conscious. We may thin it more and more with water for cheating the customer. 9th May. Now do like that. it becomes thicker and sweeter. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. from tapes. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. Just like boiling the milk. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. 22nd June. but in the end it will cease to be any longer milk. What can we conclude from these considerations on training? What principle can we learn? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… “…Now we have got so many students and so many temples but I am fearful that if we expand too much in this way that we shall become weakened and gradually the whole thing will become lost.” -Srila Prabhupada’s letter to Rupanuga. So let us concentrate on training our devotees very thoroughly in the knowledge of Krishna Consciousness from our books. 1977 10 . What are the two main obstacles in establishing a culture of systematic training in ISKCON? 1. ……………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………. What should be done to overcome the above two obstacles? 1. Better to boil the milk now very vigorously and make it thick and sweet. ……………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………….What are the main two consequences that could result from implementing a more systematic training of congregational devotees? 1. 2. that is the best process. and not be so much concerned with expanding ourselves widely but without any spiritual content.

Characteristics of Caring Ways of Showing Care 11 .

What Did I Learn Today? We are at the end of the first day. what I want to practically apply in my life? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 12 . What did I learn today? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… How what I learned today could influence the way I think about preaching Krishna consciousness? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… How what I learned today will influence the way I see congregational devotees? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… Of what I heard today. Please reflect on the day’s experiences and write down your personal conclusions and feelings.

and Supervision is lacking or is sporadic. No clear duties and responsibilities No trainee-leader The group doesn’t multiply. and everyone someone talks and everyone else participates listens In the meetings there is one section In the meetings there is no such dedicated to preaching reports and section plans. or spontaneous leadership. is visited and supervised by a There is no structure sector-servant The group regularly reports its No reporting system activities to higher authorities A personal guide is assigned for There is no such concept. everyone every new member is more or less on his own There is an ongoing effort to Often the group functions only if a generate more leaders temple devotee gets involved 13 .Bhakti-vrksa Groups Trained group leader. having clear duties and responsibilities The leader is accompanied by a trainee-leader The group multiplies into two upon reaching 15 members All the members are encouraged to systematically engage in preaching Non Bhakti-vrksa Groups No specific leader. The group is part of a structure. but grows (when it grows) indefinitely The members don’t preach or it is not an organized effort: it is left to the individual’s inspiration In the weekly meeting the group has In the meetings there is a ‘lecture’: a ‘discussion’.

and stay with it until it can fly again. Fact 3: Sometimes the leading goose gets tired and rotates back into formation for another to take over. help it. When someone is in trouble we should concentrate our efforts to help him. to protect it. wounded or shot. and love. it immediately feels the drag and quickly gets back into the draft of the nearest goose. the whole flock provides 71% better flying range than alone.The Team Spirit of Flying Geese Fact 1: As each bird flaps its wings. Lesson: Share and delegate leadership. Fact 4: Geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. traveling on the thrust of each other. two geese fall out of formation to go with this one. Fact 2: Whenever a goose falls out of formation. we would stay in formation with those who are heading where we want to go. 14 . By flying in a "V" formation. or until it dies. especially the weaker ones. Fact 5: Whenever a goose gets sick. we should not abandon or forget him. not discouraging. Lesson: If we had as much sense as a goose. A leader should see as his/her duty to grow others into leaders. it creates an uplift for the bird following. Lesson: Every team member needs support. People who share a common direction and a sense of community can get there quicker and easier. Lesson: We should make sure that our honking is encouraging. Lesson: The power of the collective. care. not be preoccupied that his/her position could be endangered.

………………………………………………………………………… …………………….……………………………… Experiences (feelings. emotions. Each type of gathering has its own flavor and allows distinct experiences. ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….) missing in small groups (5-15 devotees): ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….: ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….……………………………… Experiences (feelings. etc. activities. what experiences are more likely or unlikely in each? Experiences (feelings. emotions.) that a devotee can have in large or very large gathering like Sunday Feasts. Summer Camps. etc. etc: ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. etc. emotions and activities.) unlikely in large and very large gatherings: ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. In this exercise we focus on small and big gatherings. 15 . ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. Different Experiences In Krsna conscious gatherings of different sizes. a Mayapur-Vrndavana Festivals.……………………………… What conclusion can you draw from the above considerations? ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. etc. emotions. etc. activities. activities.) that a devotee can have in a small group (5-15 devotees) like in a Bhakti-vrksa group meetings. Rathayatras.Different Gatherings. emotions.……………………………… Experiences (feelings. activities. the individual devotee experiences different feelings. ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….

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and become stagnant. 3. It can take two or three sessions before group members overcome these false conclusions about each other. Conform .The Get Acquainted Stage Perhaps someone has said to you. There is also risk at this point: because the group has found meaningful relationships. you may find the first experience with the conflict stage a bit scary. After four or five sessions together. “you aren’t a bit like I thought you were when we first met!” This is common reaction. Form . they often don’t like every aspect of other’s personalities. The members will resolve these differences. 2. Storm . First impressions are often based on past relationships with other people. 17 .4 Stages in the Life of a Group 1. 4. This is also sometimes called the “honeymoon” stage. another may be insensitive. someone else may be too sensitive. but don’t be afraid! Gently guide the group. the group might become selfish. If you have never been in a small group.The Conflict Stage When people get to know each other in the intimacy of a small group. A “sand-papering” effect will take place. stop the missionary work of outreach. Perform .The Community Stage The conflict stage is followed by a meaningful period in which the members find an identity and stability as a group. If this is permitted. The result is dramatic! The group’s identity will be established and commitment to the group will occur. these conflicts might surface in the discussions and other areas. One person may talk too much. Value systems will clash. Some however will feel more enthusiastic to preach once the group goes beyond the third stage. because people enjoy their newly found comraderie. People then begin to trust each other enough to air their differences and to work through them. letting the participants share deeply. it may decide it wants to close itself off to remain undisturbed.The Outreach Stage The Bhakti-vrksa group exists to practice and share Krishna consciousness.

Reflection on Day Two What is the most important thing I learned today? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… What steps I am willing to take to apply the principles covered today? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… What are the main obstacles I am likely to face in trying to implement such principles? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… Any other comments or realizations? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 18 .

………………………………………………………………………… …………………….…………………………………………………… "Application" Questions “Which part of the purport touched you the most? Why?” “How can we practically apply these teachings in our life?” “What obstacles could we face in applying these teachings?” “Did you recognize any specific instruction that helps you in solving some of your personal problems?” “What new insight you found in this passage?” “How would you present this point to a non-devotee?” “Did anyone see these concepts in action? Would you like to share the experience?” “Anyone had an experience that confirms this point?” “What do you personally want to apply from this discussion?” “What do you personally want to take with you from this discussion?” ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….Sample Questions for the 3 Phases of Discussion Below are examples of questions that could be asked in the three different phases of the discussion....?” “What does it really mean when ...……………………………… 19 ..........?” “Did anyone find any new insight?” ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. ‘Discovery’ Questions “What were the most important points from what we just read?” “What were the main ideas or concepts?” ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ‘Understanding’ Questions “Which analogies Srila Prabhupada used?” “What analogies did Srila Prabhupada use to explain this concept?” “Why does the verse say .. Some will apply to the verse under scrutiny...... One should always try to find stimulating questions directly based on the subject at hand....... others will not...

consideration of special needs Build-up listening skills ability to draw people into the discussion ability to ask questions in the right way ability to ask the right questions ability to promote introspection acknowledging and valuing contributions ability to involve the shy seeking explanation before correcting • ability to wait for answers • remembering those who wanted to speak • • • • • • • • Communication using specific language clarifying technical terms avoiding slang maintaining eye contact looking at everyone in the group avoiding focusing too much on a person monitoring non-verbal clues (body language) awareness of everyone’s disposition Discipline keeping the discussion on track establishing norms of behavior addressing inappropriate behavior being aware of the passing of time keeping to the time allotted being flexible with the time when appropriate avoiding unhealthy controversies avoiding offenses to Vaisnavas ensuring that key points are written down knowing how to use the option of hand-raising ability to wind-up the discussion give a summary at the end • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 20 . being oneself openness and honesty capacity to disclose about oneself. when appropriate willingness to learn from the group willingness to admit one’s mistakes using appropriate room layout setting the appropriate mood for the subject impartiality.ABCD • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Atmosphere confidence enthusiasm being natural. treating everyone fairly treating everyone respectfully insisting on respectful behavior knowing how to deal with conflicting views sensitivity.Facilitation Skills .

zombies 21 . conscience and free will Prepares for future responsibility Allows growth The system is sustainable in absence of delegator Perpetuates generations of leaders Gives no future prospects Self-limiting System collapses in absence of delegator Creates peons.Two Styles of Delegation Authoritarianism Focused on methods Delegator is responsible for results Empowerment Focused on results Delegatee is responsible for results Discourages commitment on Involves mutual commitment the part of the delegatee of delegator and delegatee Undermines trust Engages the body Based on and building trust Engages imagination. ‘yes-men’.

What he has learned. In this way. conversation. Similarly. 31 July. I was busy. stage after stage. that there is one teacher.. This is organization. 1976 22 . When He was sixteen years old he could argue with Kesava Kasmiri. Just Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to do that. because He was practiced. So in this way. he can teach. and how he's managing hundreds? That means there are groups. Not that "Oh." That he can teach. one teacher can manage hundreds of students of different categories. Not that everything I have to do. next group. I could not do it. he's taking some beginners: "Write a or A like this.The Way of Indian Teaching “That is the way of Indian teaching.” Srila Prabhupada. Everyone should be teacher and student. I cannot teach anybody to do it. Paris. they could be.. everyone should be expert. next group. One who is elderly student. That is intelligence. Intelligence is that employ others to help you." Why? What about your assistant? Train assistant so that in your absence things can be done. That is not intelligence. So the elderly students.

but repeated apologies can be perceived as insincere. Keeping Commitments • Maintaining a promise can be a major boost to the relation. It requires courage. rationalization and ill motives.Six Ways of Improving Relations 1. • We should be careful in making promises: we should consider unforeseen obstacles in fulfilling them. but it will prevent misunderstandings and disappointments in the long run. • Integrity is the quality of being upright in principle and action. involving pride. • Mistakes of judgment. • Integrity creates a foundation of trust which is essential for cooperation and long term growth. especially in regard to roles and goals. 3. 4. are easily forgiven. • Small discourtesies and forms of disrespect. Clarifying Expectations • The root of many relationship difficulties is conflicting or ambiguous expectations. which are usually of the mind. can greatly affect the relation. Showing Integrity • It means aligning values and behavior: to practice what we preach. 23 . • Those who possess a sense of security can apologize: they don’t worry that others might consider admitting a mistake to be a weakness. responsibility. are more difficult to forgive. Understanding the Individual • Taking time to understand the person’s feelings and emotions. but mistakes of the heart. effort and time to clarify expectations at the beginning of a relation. • Breaking a promise can be a major injury to the relation. • We create negative situations by assuming that our expectations are self-evident. especially in situations that test sincerity of purpose. or trust. Attention to Details • Small good deeds might leave lasting positive feeling. Apologizing Sincerely When Making a Mistake • A genuine apology could be a great boost to the relation. means a lot to many people. 6. 2. • It is the key to understanding someone else’s needs. 5.

. ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………… 5..Name ………………………………………… ….Name …………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 6. Understanding the individual . ………………………………………………………………………… …………………….Name ……………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 2. in the near future. This is a commitment you are taking with yourself. 1. Clarifying expectations .Name …………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ……………………. Attention to details .. Keeping commitments .. Write his or her name and describe how you could apply that way to improve the relation.Name …………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 4. Showing integrity . Apologizing sincerely when making a mistake .Applying the Six Ways of Improving Relations For each of the six ways think of a real person you have a relation with (you can think of six different people). ………………………………………………………………… 24 .Name ………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 3. …………………………………………………………….

psychoanalyzing. If you own the problem. if the relationship with the other person does not exist. evaluating 4. your words will neither enter deeply nor be effective. stereotyping. commanding. criticizing. and doubt. diagnosing. probing 2. lecturing logically) the person often feels misunderstood. especially when one 25 . The above responses are not conducive to the development of the relation with the person. moralizing (“you should”). being sarcastic. consoling. 7. giving logical arguments. 12. 6. 1. interrogating. diverting attention. usually the tendency is to respond with one or more of the following: 1. 2. 5. advising 3. If the problem belongs to the other person. 10. 11. preaching. from The Art of Teaching. The owner is whoever is tangibly and concretely affected by the problem. 9. sympathizing. humoring. ridiculing. thus leaving little room for the person to talk about what is really on his or her mind. interrogating. questioning. Also. cross-examining (third-degree). directing. cross-examining) one often conveys suspicion. interpreting. Teaching. 3. agreeing. suggesting. by HG Bhurijana Prabhu Who Owns the Problem? The first step in trying to solve a problem is to identify who owns it. labeling. lack of trust. Threatening. Interpreting. By advising (giving suggestions. as each question dictates an answer within the question's parameters.Active Listening Adapted. 2. Escaping. Ordering. Praising. probing can make it harder to find out the person's problem. The above twelve types of responses can be categorized into 4 primary groups: 1. By probing (questioning. disagreeing. because you need to approach the situation differently if you own the problem or not. Judging. Probing. distracting. Typical Responses When someone brings up a problem. withdrawing. moralizing. Reassuring. Even though you may be quite correct in your preaching or probing. despite one’s good intention. offering solutions. it is appropriate to listen. 8. the counselor's role is inappropriate and you must directly influence the situation. supporting. Advising. Preaching. trying to understand exactly what is going on. with permission. lecturing. Name-calling. 4. giving positive evaluation. blaming.

one will find it difficult to know the other person's mind. He becomes defensive. By interpreting (analyzing. and hides his real feelings. To deepen all relationships listening is effective. The acronym S. the person may feel ill at ease. What follows are four preliminary stages to active listening: S. judging. over 90% of responses fall into these four categories. and invitations to deeper communication. One should listen out of concern.L. He can do it when and if the time and relationship is suitable. An open posture–especially uncrossed arms—is a sign that one is open to the other’s words. and becomes excessively dependent on others. (conducive body language). By evaluating (disagreeing. One exhibits his interest and attention (or lack of interest and attention) by the posture of the body.E. and without knowing the person’s mind. diagnosing) one lets the person know he has him figured out: he knows the person's motives. Directing one's body toward a person indicates. 4. And even if one knows the other person's mind. one will not be able to accurately diagnose the person's needs and offer appropriate advice or instruction. countercriticizes. How can then a devotee deal with another person's problems and at the same time deepen his relationship? The suggestion is to begin by listening. 26 . but also out of necessity: without listening. "I'm interested in speaking with you". can remind us of four basic poses we can adopt to let the other person know that we are listening to what he or she is saying.O. O: Adapt an Open posture. S. you say by your posture.L. he should still inquire and listen—both to facilitate the exchange of affection and to confirm his intuition. Even if seated in a group. If you face someone squarely.E. This is he basic posture of involvement.E.O. Crossed arms and legs can be a sign of defensiveness. stupid and bad. the person often becomes angry or resentful. monitoring nonverbal messages. "I'm listening to you now".L. S: Face the other person Squarely. or exposed. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu exhibited this as a prelude to His teaching Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya: the Lord listened for seven days before commenting.O.doesn't first listen to him carefully. you can turn in some way toward the person to whom you are speaking. criticizing) the person who owns the problem often feels inadequate. And one need not immediately evaluate what he hears—what to speak of agreeing with it. self-conscious. If he's wrong. 3. non-judgmental acknowledgments. If he's right. Unfortunately. An open posture is perceived as non-defensive. The person who owns the problem develops little confidence in his own ability to deal with problems.

" "Let's hear what you have to say. These inform the speaker that you are indeed awake and listening. This lets him know that you are giving him your full.L: Lean toward the person. Here are some typical nonjudgmental responses: "Really!" You don't say. the person often doesn't know if you are listening or not. nonjudgmental acknowledgments. Just as a person uses his voice to speak what is on his mind." "Go ahead. Without doing this periodically. Monitoring Nonverbal Messages Another aspect of listening is 'hearing' what the person's body is saying." "Is that so?" "I see. does not mean staring into his eyes." "Mmmm" "How about that?" "Interesting." Invitations to Deeper Communication To indicate to the speaker that you are not only awake and listening. Here are some examples of invitations to deeper communication." "Would you like to talk about it?" "This seems really important to you. so he uses his body to provide many nonverbal messages. When stated sincerely these statements encourage communication. As you speak with another person. Maintaining eye contact. undivided attention." Active Listening "Tell me about it. spend some time looking directly at him." "Let's discuss it. As Srila Prabhupada said: "The face is the index of the mind". however. but who are leaning back and looking around. This is another sign of interest and attentiveness. statements that request the speaker to deepen his communication. Nonjudgmental Acknowledgments A small step indicating more involvement than passive listening is using various verbal. E: Maintain Eye contact. They are probably bored and not very interested in their conversation. "I'd like to hear more about it." 27 . huh. Watch two people who are absorbed in conversation." "Tell me more. you can add. Then find two people who are talking." "Tell me the whole story." "Oh." "No fooling!" "You did. This is unnatural ad will make others uncomfortable. at appropriate times. but that you are also interested." "I'd be interested in your point of view. I'm listening. Very often they are both leaning forward as a natural sign of their involvement.

The key to active listening is listening carefully to identify the emotion. Here are some different emotions that can be recognized by active listening: Positive happiness elation excitement enthusiasm being loved trust responsibility relief Negative anger inadequacy cynicism doubt frustration bewilderment confusion neglect jealousy fear rejection alienation sadness misery defiance hurt 28 . just like someone testing how cold is the water by inserting only a toe. Therefore often what they first present is not the actual problem (also because often they are not themselves aware of the real problem). The person will correct you if your 'naming the emotion' is wrong. the person will 'encode' his or her feelings. and respond within seconds (as in any normal conversation). Most often. people generally test the ground. in opening up to someone. In Krishna consciousness we ‘encode’ even more as we know that certain emotions are maya. One must listen with full attention. leaving the owner of the problem as the problem-solver. check how trustworthy and understanding we are. active listening is “helping them helping themselves”.Active listening is based on the principle that diagnosis must precede prescription and on the fact that understanding comes through listening. “If I listen first to understand. then I will be better understood. but it is the concerned attempt that is important. Active listening starts the process of solving the problem. One must hear the content and the intent. Another aspect is that. It is like an iceberg: pre se nting problem actual proble m One should not stop and trying to help the person solve only the presenting problem. and I need to listen” and. One may not label the emotion correctly every time. instead of actually telling us what is on his mind.” Detachment is also essential: knowing that thing are beyond our control. You will also become more accurate with practice. naming the person emotion. Two required attitudes are: “I assume I don’t fully understand. The first step in active listening is to 'decode' the emotion.

i. Thus.. 8.. sadness. Let's see what this response is not: 1. 6." This response tells him that you are trying to understand his emotion.. I just feel stupid and want to kick myself. Every time I try to do something. I'm just making too many mistakes.. It is not a question. And everybody seems to just criticizes me. For example.. 4.e.. As I get it.. Begin with a reply such as "You seem . Especially when you think the other devotees think you're useless. It's not a judgment. 29 . What I guess I’m hearing is .. It's not an evaluation. 3. It's not an interpretation. So. In other words.. What I understand you're saying is .. you . responding based on active listening has three parts: 1..... It also communicates to him that you comprehend the reasons for his emotions—making mistakes and other devotees thinking him useless. It is not just a word-for-word repetition.hope confidence satisfaction pleasure hopelessness unprotected disappointment sense of being cheated sense of unfairness The second step is to 'name' the cause of the person's emotion. 5. 7. you felt that ... I’m picking up that you . A response based on active listening is something like this: "It seems to really discourage you when you think you are making a lot of mistakes. I’m not sure I’m with you. what is the tangible cause of his frustration. It is not a challenge." 2. as you see it . It is not taking ownership of their problem. confidence. 3... 2. It is not advice... As I hear it. Sometimes I think no one really thinks I can do anything". Name the cause of the emotion. You seem . These phrases are especially useful when first learning to actively listen. or other emotion? In stating the emotion and the cause of it. one can start with one of the following helpful phrases: It sounds like you . but . Name the person’s emotion. You place a high value on . "I don't think I can be a devotee.. that he feels discouraged. I seem to either know it over or smash it up.. we might hear the following words from a teenager....

and not as a substitute for." or to name the emotion and the cause of the emotion in every response you make. don't expect to start every sentence with "It seems . That will neither 30 . Active listening is a powerful preaching tool: it warms the relation. whereas the heart’s feeling. the skills are only the tip. in a great many cases the person comes up with his own solution. above). Practical tips in conversation These listening skills have to be practiced until they become natural. Instructing one who is disturbed is usually not effective because the troubled person's turbulent mind will not allow him to hear. compassion in Krishna consciousness. Indeed. te chnique s conce rn One fundamental requirement for active listening is the capacity to suspend the judging-propensity. Although active listening is a powerful technique. you know what to shoot for. it lets you know what “they are at”. it is not necessary to immediately solve the problem. Active listening is also useful in book distribution.. Active listening is also useful in responding to the happiness and triumphs that devotees meet in their lives. This often happens quickly and naturally when he feels understood. Resist the temptation to immediately offer words of advice or throw out pat preachy lines. it lets you enter their life by them opening up to you (while keeping. more pointed. People really appreciate when you want to hear what they have to say: many people go on all their life without experiencing it. When someone reveals a problem. It is like an iceberg in which the techniques. in a sense..Responding with understanding attempts to communicate the listener's understanding of what the speaker is going through. The general rule is to not advice unless you are quite sure the listener wishes to accept your words: “advice only when hired” is a saying used by professional counselors in this connection. Another analogy is “shot-gun” and “laser” preaching: when you know what is going on in someone’s mind your advice becomes more focused. While actively listening. it can defuse a tense situation in few seconds. It is often better to wait until the person's emotions subside. know for certain that his technique (or any technique) can only be useful if it is used in addition to. the sincerity of wanting to help is the main thing. Understanding alone often provides help.

but that's what I understand". "It sounds like . long-winded one. He may say something like. The person will often indicate this. A 'lean' response is usually much more effective than a 'fat'. ignore what's being said. "That's frustrating" will be sufficient. He may start responding coldly to your statements. (wrong) Teacher: It sounds like you re in anxiety because it's too much work. Long-winded responses One of the arts of responding effectively is to make relatively short responses. Poor Substitutes for Proper Active Listening Active listening looks simple on paper. but it is not. however. It is better to admit your inability to understand and to work on getting back on track: "I got distracted and lost you. Not every conversation will unearth amazing new insights or solve all problems. This is usually done hen renaming the cause of the emotion. parroting sounds unnatural. Could you repeat what you just said?" A useful technique is to ask the person you're talking to whether your understanding is accurate or not.be practical nor will it sound normal. Know also that most often it will be you who will have to end the conversation.. Sometimes saying. It 31 . When done excessively. "I guess it's time for prasadam". or they change the subject. I could be wrong. Know for certain. (right) Pretending to understand It is sometimes difficult to understand another person. Part of good listening is quitting at the right time. the underlying problem surfaces after some time. do we have to do all the exercises on page 110? Teacher: It sounds like you are in anxiety because you have to do all the exercises on page 110. Parroting Parroting is mechanically restating what the other person has said. Here are some pitfalls to avoid when attempting to do active listening. that each time you properly listen with understanding you add one more brick in building your relationship with the person. You can avoid this by paraphrasing the person’s words. even if you have carefully listened to what he said. It's a rare opportunity for most people to be really heard and understood. Gurukula Student: Prabhu. Am I correct?” Ignoring what a person says Some people while 'listening'. Know When to Stop Sometimes there simply isn't much to say on a topic. "It seems to me that you'd like a little time to think about what I just said.. Note that often when you patiently listen with understanding.

Anudasa: Yeah. Make your responses short. concrete. (starts manipulating). or preaching. "ssential truth spoken concisely is true eloquence". preaching). Dasa: Anudasa: Dasa: You look unhappy. (evaluating). I can't understand why Srila Prabhupada put so much stress on the four regulative principles and chanting sixteen rounds. My parents won't take me to Puri during the vacation if they find out I've been mean to the academic teacher. This often happens if the listener starts evaluating. Gurukula student: Wow! I got it today. and accurate. Dasa: Prabhu. Sent to Maharaja's office twice in one day. It's not too late. judging. Another example of manipulation: Dasa: Anudasa: Dasa: Anudasa: I'm really having trouble with my studies. Opening and then shutting the door We start doing active listening but lose our patience. I feel like going to another temple. Would Prabhupada like you to act so whimsically? (moralizing. You sound confused why Srila Prabhupada didn't water-down the process as you would have done. it's really frustrating. lean. Dasa: Now that wouldn't be the right thing to do. You sound depressed because you think you are making offenses to the Deities. Gurukula student: I'd rather not go to Puri. "Come on. As Srila Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami wrote. Asrama teacher: (still coldly) You're disappointed. (listening with understanding) I was late again with the offering to Krishna-Balarama. Gurukula student: You mean offer my obeisances and beg forgiveness from him? Asrama teacher: That's exactly what I mean. Being manipulative We manipulate by subtly directing the person to our viewpoint without first hearing him out. Anudasa: I don't care. (listening with understanding). Why don't you chant some extra 32 . It seems that you're disturbed because some insignificant problem is temporarily stopping you from studying properly. Gurukula student: That's an understatement. (silence). Gurukula student: Of course I'm upset. I'll understand. going to another temple is bogus. Asrama teacher: You feel there is nothing you can do to patch up your relationship with your academic teacher.usually takes more words to say noting than to say something. I'm going to find a service that doesn't implicate me in so many offenses. It is like saying. I quit. tell me how you feel. is it? (pushing his solution)." and then reacting in a way that betrays trust. Asrama teacher: (coldly) It seems like you're upset that you got in trouble today.

especially if the person we are listening to requests our counsel. however. Lord Caitanya tells Raghunatha dasa Goswami: gramya-katha na sunite. Graphic details about a gruesome scene may haunt our mind for days. weeks. The following six steps.. The dictionary defines empathy as. or even years. and simply say something like. "I don't feel comfortable going any further into this topic". should therefore exercise caution when listening to others. offering solution). including their struggles with material nature. Sri Gosvamiji [Srila Jiva Gosvami] says that one should not indulge in hearing others who are engaged in belittling a devotee of the Lord.rounds. In order to avoid unfavorable samskaras while hearing. or impressions. A Word of Caution Literature on counseling and listening skills often discuss the need for empathy. gramya-varta na kahibe “Do not talk like people in general or hear what they say. if carefully applied. Srila Prabhupada writes in the purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 2. 33 . Anudasa: Thanks a lot. Six Steps to Resolve Conflicts Conflict resolution is an art which sometimes requires special negotiating skills. Antya-lila 6. so much so that we continue thinking of them long after the actual experience. thoughts. thoughts.” In Caitanya-caritamrita. (silence). "identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings. get a good night's sleep.236. especially if the conflicts are complex. We should. be cautious about what we hear and to what extent we want to "experience the feelings. and see how you feel in the morning? (advising. He should be true to his own needs as a devotee.12: “Quoting from the Markandeya Purana. of another". Some samskaras leave deep impressions. Clearly empathy is required. etc. We should be very careful that “their” problem doesn’t become “ours”. Everything we hear and experience creates samskaras. can help in solving conflicts that arise in running a Bhakti-vrksa group or in normal situations among devotees.” The caring devotee who has developed the ability to do active listening will hear about the maya of others. a listener can internally pray to guru and Krishna to protect him and give him the ability to help the person progress towards Krishna's lotus feet. of another". Hearing blasphemy of devotees and hearing prolonged descriptions of activities performed in material consciousness can be especially harmful.1. He can set limits. etc. The devotee wishing to remain strong in Krishna consciousness. in our consciousness.

Agree on the terms of implementation. Discuss implementation— who. This requires active listening. 4. 2 Brainstorm possible solutions. 5. being non judgmental and spontaneous (this step requires the creative mood). 6. Evaluate the different solutions looking for a mutually acceptable situation (this step requires the analytical mood). when and how. in terms of needs. Define the problem. Resolving Conflicts as “ABCDEF”: Analyze needs Brainstorm solutions Consider solutions Decide one solution Execute the solution Future re-evaluation 34 . 3. Re-evaluate at a future date (to check if the solution was really acceptable for both).1. not solutions. Choose the best solution. where.

From Today Onwards… What are the most important things I learned in this course? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… What practical steps will I take to apply what I learned? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… What possible obstacles will I face in trying to implement what I learned? How am I going to overcome these obstacles? ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… ………………………………………………………………………… 35 .

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