Those who don’t hang together, hang separately
In a war, comrades watch each other’s backs. When we practice spiritual life, we engage in a war against illusion. In this war, our fellow-devotees and we are comrades.
In the spiritual war, illusion attacks by fuelling our lower desires, which then ambush us by masquerading as our essential desires. Our spiritual comrades protect us from such ambushes by reminding us of our cherished higher values and aspirations.
Unfortunately, we sometimes let differences over relatively unimportant issues undermine our relationships with devotees. Overlooking the defining spiritual commonality that we are fighting the same enemy and serving the same Lord, we let minor differences distance us from devotees. Being thus isolated, we are left with no one to caution us when our lower desires sneak in. Beguiled by those desires, we unwittingly succumb to anti-devotional, immoral indulgences, thereby wounding ourselves spiritually. And this happens to all spiritual practitioners who isolate themselves. Thus, by failing to hang together, we end up hanging separately.
On a positive note, association offers not just protection from lower desires but also inspiration for higher desires. And higher desires to love and serve Krishna comprise the best protection from lower, self-centered desires. We can best nourish our devotional desires by associating with like-minded devotees with similar definitions of spiritual success.
The Bhagavad-gita (10.09) states that devotees delight in discussing about Krishna and enlightening each other about his glories. Such association helps us relish his glories from various perspectives, thus strengthening our desires to serve him. Further, association helps us appreciate how other devotees are pressing on, despite obstacles and reversals, in their war for spiritual purity. This appreciation inspires us to fight resolutely, thereby purifying ourselves and gaining higher taste.
When we subordinate our differences with devotees to our defining spiritual commonality, our devotional practices become safe, strong and satisfying.
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