Matter matters, and so does manner
When we speak something authoritative, we often expect others to hear it submissively. Especially when we speak Krishna’s message, we frequently think that because we have divine authority backing us, others are bound to listen to us. But if our manner appears arrogant or judgmental, that may alienate people so much that they stop hearing us. For outreach to be effective, the right matter needs to be presented in the right manner.
How to complement matter with manner is illustrated in the Bhagavad-gita by Krishna. He is God, the ultimate authority; what he speaks is supremely authoritative. Yet his tone in the Gita is empathic, not self-righteous.
For example, when Arjuna voices doubts about the practicality of focusing the mind (06.33-34), Krishna responds empathically (06.35) acknowledging that such focus is undoubtedly difficult. He thus ensures that Arjuna feels understood. As long as we don’t feel understood, we feel suffocated and can’t think of anything except getting some oxygen. Once we feel understood, the oxygen of understanding gives us the calmness to contemplate the subject under discussion.
By his empathy, Krishna decreases Arjuna’s apprehension and increases his receptivity. Thereafter (06.36), Krishna essentially repeats his earlier message. He doesn’t need to change his content, for his understanding attitude has opened Arjuna’s heart.
When we share Krishna’s message, we often stress on speaking the right matter. That’s vital, and so is speaking it in the right way. If our manner decreases people’s receptivity, we may well be committing spiritual violence, for we keep them deprived of the timeless wisdom that Krishna has entrusted us to share with them. By training ourselves to complement the valuable matter with a congenial manner, we raise the likelihood of it being heard receptively.
When matter and manner thus work harmoniously, we witness Krishna’s transformational potency manifesting before us and through us.
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