The more we are responsible for others, the more we need to be responsible for ourselves
Suppose a surgeon is agitated, distracted or exhausted while doing surgery – a small wrong cut can be disastrous. Their responsibility for the lives of others brings with it a responsibility to take care of themselves.
Some people accuse spiritualists of spending too much time in their own spiritual practices and not doing anything practical to help others. But such people don’t understand that offering spiritual help is like offering medical help – both require adequate education, training and attention. Diligent spiritual practices help us see deeper and address the underlying causes of various problems, thereby solving them sustainably. Thus, for example, selfish desire is often the fundamental cause of most problems. And spiritual practices counter such selfishness by providing us a taste of the sweetness of selfless service to Krishna and all living beings in relationship with him.
The Bhagavad-gita (05.25) states that sages who have purified their hearts of illusion and duality work for the welfare of all living beings. And even while working selflessly and benevolently thus, we need to regularly keep purifying ourselves just as surgeons need to adequately take care of themselves so that they can properly take care of others.
Actually, this principle applies all the more so in our spiritual life. Why? Because we are meant to help others not just by guidance but also by example. If our impurities overcome us, we may end up causing much more damage than offering wrong guidance; by our misdemeanor, we may even destroy their faith.
Such awareness of our social responsibility can energize our spiritual practices with greater commitment and conviction – we are doing them not just for our own spiritual growth, but also for serving others properly by setting a good example and becoming pure enough to offer competent counsel.
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