(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 02 October 2012, Cronulla, Australia, Program at Yoga Studio)
One of the qualities of a devotee is kṣamā which means forgiveness. In this world, every relationship must begin with that because, after all, nobody is pure. If we were all perfectly pure then we would have no faults but because we do, there must be a spirit of forgiveness in relationships.
So we say, “Okay, you have to some faults and I will simply accept it. We should simply try to work them out together and I am not going to attack you for the faults or condemn you. If they are not major then we are not even going to mention them. But if they are major then maybe they need to be brought up.”
The willingness to accept people with their limitations, is the beginning of relationships but it is most difficult to do. It is very easy to fully accept a pure devotee but to accept someone’s false ego, someone’s weaknesses, is difficult!
Then, I think that another element is that we have to be a servant. A devotee is a servant. So, in a relationship, you should take the attitude of a servant instead of a master because if you are both the master in the relationship then you have a competition as to who is going dominate. Then there will be constant competition in the relationship; a constant tug-of-war. That is the attitude of the master.
The attitude of the servant is, “How can I do something for others?” And if that is the spirit within the community then it becomes a very nice community and even in a one-on-one relationship this works. But being a servant is something difficult and requires a certain amount of humility. It is not part of the modern culture. In modern culture, humility is seen as a weakness and you have to be assertive and have self-esteem.
Personally, we are not very qualified but we have received a great gift and therefore we have something valuable. So, one can have self-esteem and be humble. Devotee relationships require that. Yet in so many relationships, there is pride and you get the battle of the egos. Marriages are like that and at work too. Some bosses are unnecessarily bossy.
Relationships are so complicated. I do not think that devotees can just solve it overnight and get practical knowledge. This is the theory and the practical part is a work-in-progress. If you can commit to some of these common standards which I have mentioned, then things might improve.