(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 11 April 2014, Cape Town, South Africa, Lecture at House Program)
In a small temple, with predominately congregational devotees – that means devotees who are maintaining a life outside the temple and who have limited time and energy – I think we should appreciate the time spent together and maintain relationships. Because especially in a congregational gathering, more than ever, we need friendship. You know, it is like if you have a little military army living in a temple and all are on a mission. Even if there is no such friendship, still all are together in the same mission. But when you do not have that kind of driving energy then the only reason to come together is for friendship. So that is a big challenge but I think that is the key.
Like, we are here tonight, at somebody’s house and that is very nice, that is how it should be. If devotees have not been in your house for a while then you must start thinking about it and arrange for them to come. Even if your house is small, it does not matter – squeeze in somehow or other – because bonding is important. So we need to stay close and in an congregational setting, friendship is a big element, if you want to be with people. If you do not really want to be with them then you are not going to be with them. In the temple, whether you want to be together or not, you have to be for mangala aarti. But in a congregation, if you do not want to be together then why would you be? You only go to programs that you want to.
In friendship, you have to conquer people, do something to win them over. You have to do something that touches their heart, and then we have real friendships. Friendship can never be taken for granted and it is not cheap, but that is what we need. I guess, you can say big things about friendship but you can also make it very simple. In one way, a very simple approach is to not give each other a hard time – sort of, make it easy for each other and it counts for everybody, even at home! You know, friendship begins at home, if we just sort of try and make it easy for each other, that would help.
Devotee: Maharaj, does that not defeat the high thinking society ideal?
It depends on what you call easy. I did not mean that we should lose the purity but we should accommodate each other a lot and be sensitive to each other’s needs, that is what I meant. Making it easy for each other means that we should think of everybody’s needs, and not just of our own, then that creates friendship. So we try to think of the needs of others.