On Wednesday, September 7th, Radhanath Swami spoke at Jaya Yoga Center in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. He was joined by special guests Sacinandana Swami, a dear friend and Vaishnava sanyasi from Germany, and Acharya Sri Pundrik Goswami, a highly esteemed teacher of bhakti yoga who comes in the lineage of servants at the historic Sri Radha Raman Temple in Vrindavan, India.
Among the audience of over one hundred were many students from the yoga center’s teacher training program. Radhanath Swami spoke on the character of a great yogi drawing from an 800 year old story of a South Indian bhakti yogi. The centers director, Carla Stangenberg, asked Radhanath Swami if he might share some words of wisdom regarding teaching for the future teachers enrolled in the training program.
Radhanath Swami “In giving we receive. What is the spirit of being a teacher? It is to relieve people of suffering and to improve the quality of life – not just making money. There should be love, there should be kindness, there should be compassion. You should make people feel good. People are not just machines, they are not just objects,they are people.”
“A good teacher should nourish a students consciousness. People need encouragement, they need guidance, and they need wisdom. When we take the position of a teacher, we should really care about the people we are teaching. I’ve found this in my own life and I’ve seen it in so many other lives – that when we really care about a persons life, and we really pray to be an instrument of Gods grace in helping this person – then a grace can come through us that is so far beyond our own. And that’s where real enjoyment comes from – in doing the best we can we feel good – but doing the best we can and seeing and feeling the experience of grace coming through us, that’s empowering us way beyond what we could do on our own, thats when life is really fulﬁlling. That’s when we are really grateful and joyous. In giving we receive. So yes, learn the arts of yoga to your full capacity, but use them in the spirit of compassion. Use them as an expression of love and care. And it is that spirit that will enlighten you and enlighten others, far more even then the mechanical procedures. The mechanical procedures are beautiful, but if they are used in a spirit of love, compassion and devotion, then they transform the whole us – the body the mind and the soul. And there is so much need for that. To actually make a difference in peoples lives, to make a difference in the world is really the greatest satisfaction.”
Sachinandana Swami “Whenever we give something to another we should have in mind that we will bring out the best in the persons life. A teacher should never make a student dependent on them. A teacher should always give the student wings to ﬂy on their own. And you will see – when the students see this giving nature in you – ah they will be so grateful. There will be a very bonding relationship. A relationship which never stops. Give the light, don’t hold it back. Try in this way to bring the best out of the other person and a real connection will come. You see, so many people communicate but few connect. So many teachers teach something but few connect with their students. So many friends communicate with their friends, so many husbands and wives communicate to their partners but so few connect because they don’t consider this one quality, this one quality which will not go unnoticed, this quality by which you really try to give what you have to the other person to help bring out the best in them.”
The talk was followed by a lively kirtan which got all the audience up on their feet, dancing and singing together. At the end Acharya Sri Pundrik Goswami shared some ﬁnal thoughts on the nature of bhakti comparing it to a lady wearing perfume. A lady will apply perfume to her body with the thought of how it will please one person – her lover, but everyone who comes close to her will also enjoy the fragrance. Similarly, in bhakti yoga, one cultivates love in their heart for the pleasure of God, but that love will naturally be shared with and beneﬁt everyone one contacts.
Carla Stangenberg spoke the concluding words thanking the speakers and guests for attending and humbly appealing all to please return. “This event exceeded expectations, wishes and dreams and was clearly divinely arranged. Thank you dear yogis – what a wonderful place for practice we have. Now we all know what ecstatic kirtan really means. I’m thinking we should refer to the center as the temple from now on. Such good vibes are still reverberating in the room. It was a wonderful night for the Jaya Yoga community – such warmth. I’m so glad to have met so many new friends.”