Might we be burning the very bridge that we want others to cross?
When we practice devotional service and realize its transformational benefits, we naturally feel inspired to share our faith with others. Such an inspiration is noble.
However, the way we execute this inspiration may not always be so noble. People have their own understanding of life, God and spirituality. We need to build a bridge that will enable them to come towards Krishna from wherever they presently are. Building this bridge means that by our actions and words, we guide and encourage them to rise from their present understanding towards Gita wisdom.
Unfortunately, sometimes we are so filled with the pride of possessing the truth that we become righteous, even imperious, towards those who have a different understanding. We act and speak insensitively in ways that are scornful or dismissive of their present beliefs and practices. Due to our condescending attitude, they naturally feel threatened and hurt. To protect themselves from being wounded further, they adopt a defensive mindset and down their intellectual shutters. When we thus intentionally or unintentionally cause them to stop offering an open-minded ear to Gita wisdom, we burn the very bridge that could have brought them to Krishna.
To ensure that we don’t ruin the spiritual prospects of others, the Bhagavad-gita (03.26) urges us to interact in ways that are not agitating and alienating but are engaging and elevating. By our actions and words, we need to show them that we respect and value them as individuals, as precious parts of God, as cherished family members in Krishna’s spiritual family. When they see that we are actually their genuine well-wishers, then they open their minds to Krishna’s wisdom that we wish to share with them. By acting on that open-mindedness, they cross the bridge and come to Krishna’s shelter.
“So as not to disrupt the minds of ignorant men attached to the fruitive results of prescribed duties, a learned person should not induce them to stop work. Rather, by working in the spirit of devotion, he should engage them in all sorts of activities [for the gradual development of Krishna consciousness]”