I always offer my respects to our spiritual masters before I begin. As I said, this is the Vedic teaching. There is a system that’s given to us by God, on the right way to live. And it’s real clear instructions, it’s not vague. And if we follow those teachings, then our whole life is greatly benefited.
So respect is very important. But as we go more and more away from any semblance of God’s system, all the things that are detrimental to our life increase. So respect is disappearing in our society. Among the youth it’s like it almost doesn’t exist.
For example, teachers at schools and so on. I remember when I went to school, you respected, just automatically you respected your elders. I mean you were taught that and everybody reinforced that. If you didn’t, they let you know very quickly. And you respected your teachers. Maybe you didn’t like this person, but you respected them. And their job was a lot easier – they just taught. But now in America, I don’t know how it is here but probably the same, some of the people say teaching is one of the most dangerous professions in some areas. The teachers are actually afraid that the students are going to shoot them or attack them in some way. And as far as verbal respect and abuse, the young people curse at everybody.
We were in Kursk just last week and were taking an afternoon walk. We were walking over the footbridge across this small river and there was a group of young guys and girls in their teens: 16, 17, 18. They were on the bridge and one guy wanted to dive off the bridge into the water. There was a guy fishing right there… the bridge is here, the fisherman is here. You know, adult, not old but elderly, you know 50, whatever, 40, I don’t know. He was fishing and this guy wanted to jump into the water close to where he was fishing. He said, “Hey, don’t jump in cause you’ll disturb my fishing!” And this young guy just verbally abused him, you know, by cursed words. No respect there. When I was a kid, I wouldn’t have done that. Even if I jumped, I wouldn’t have said what he said. Anyway, the idea is: respect is very important in our life, just common respect.
I remember a lady who was born and raised in Iran told me her grandfather in their little village was a well-known, respected and very wise man. He was known for his wisdom, and therefore many couples before they got married would come to him for advice. He would take them into this little room, shut the door so nobody was there but he and the couple, and then they would talk. And this lady was at that time a young girl and she always was curious what they were saying there but she was not allowed in. So one time she hid in the room behind the curtain. They came in, began to talk and she was hiding there. And he told this couple, “When you get married, there will be an invisible veil of respect between you and if that veil, if that curtain falls down, your marriage is finished.” I thought, “Wow, a very good advice!”
And it’s really important in spiritual life. It carries over, everything is connected: material respect, spiritual respect. And if we have that, then we are following God’s system. This is how He designed it. If we don’t have that, then we are in violation and have many problems. So we are told to respect everybody in these teachings. Respect everybody but not to expect others to respect you. It is not like, “Oh, I respect you if you respect me. But if you don’t respect me, I’m not going to respect you.” No. I respect you whether you respect me or not. It is said we should respect even the ant.
So in our Bhakti yoga system this is the message we get. That is why I always, (it’s not the only reason but, of course, I have to do it if I am acting correctly) I always offer my respects to our spiritual teachers. And, of course, it’s great gratitude etc., included.
Next post – 1. MEDITATION (VEGETARIANISM)