The Issue Of Overlapping Circles

[Shri Krishna]“My dear gopis, what auspicious activities must the flute have performed to enjoy the nectar of Krishna’s lips independently and leave only a taste for the gopis for whom that nectar is actually meant. The forefathers of the flute, the bamboo trees, shed tears of pleasure. His mother, the river, on whose bank the bamboo was born, feels jubilation, and therefore her blooming lotus flowers are standing like hair on her body.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.21.9)

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गोप्यः किम् आचरद् अयं कुशलं स्म वेणुर्
दामोदराधर-सुधाम् अपि गोपिकानाम्
भुङ्क्ते स्वयं यद् अवशिष्ट-रसं ह्रदिन्यो
हृष्यत्-त्वचो ’श्रु मुमुचुस् तरवो यथार्यः

gopyaḥ kim ācarad ayaṁ kuśalaṁ sma veṇur
dāmodarādhara-sudhām api gopikānām
bhuṅkte svayaṁ yad avaśiṣṭa-rasaṁ hradinyo
hṛṣyat-tvaco ’śru mumucus taravo yathāryaḥ

“I am finding it more and more difficult to have conversations with others. That appears to be an odd thing to say, but here is the trend that I have noticed. People tend to share during these conversations. Such as, what happens in their daily life. The things with which they are struggling. Those things which have gone well. These are like retrospectives, to borrow a term from agile software development.

“In the course of such reviews, I have noticed that there is no benefit to sharing good news. As soon as I discuss something over which I am happy, the other person changes the subject. If you are happy and content, no one wants to talk to you.

“After a while, they stop asking, altogether. They don’t even care what happens in my daily life. They are not interested, in the least bit. I can pick up on the vibe. Therefore, I stop volunteering. Instead, I sit there and listen to their stuff. What went well, what didn’t go well.

“Conversations have turned into one-sided affairs. It is a never-ending retrospective on the other person’s life. I am not upset with the other people. I am not angry at them. I am just puzzled as to how this can happen. Why do I have to go through this? It makes me want to stop talking, altogether. I am ready to accept a perpetually renewing mauna-vrata.”

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains such difficulties in material life through the comparison of conflicting circles. If we took each person’s interests as different circles, they could start drawing them on a board.

Another person has to share the same space. They will follow the same exercise. As soon as they start drawing their circles, which represent interests, there is conflict. The circles start to overlap. Even if you use different colors for the circles, after a while it is difficult to make out which is which.

[overlapping circles]The basis for the conflict is the center. The Sanskrit words are “I” and “mine.” These will always collide. What I consider to be mine might be exactly what you want. I have a certain life experience, and you are not that much interested in it. Your “I” is the most important thing to you. “I” is at the center, and “I” is the basis of individuality. One “I” is different from another “I”.

In bhakti-yoga, the center is different. The individual “I” is trying to please the original source of identity. They are trying to see to the pleasure of the infinite one, ananta, who is also the one without a beginning, anadi.

If following the same exercise, no matter how many circles get drawn, there will not be overlap. There will not be a conflict. This is because the center, the Supreme Lord, is not limited to a certain area or place. He is not the sole property of any individual.

If I have a deity installed in the home, I can present flowers, water, and food on a daily basis. I am following through on the recommendation from Bhagavad-gita, in the mood of devotion.

पत्रं पुष्पं फलं तोयं
यो मे भक्त्या प्रयच्छति
तद् अहं भक्त्य्-उपहृतम्
अश्नामि प्रयतात्मनः

patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ
yo me bhaktyā prayacchati
tad ahaṁ bhakty-upahṛtam
aśnāmi prayatātmanaḥ

“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.26)

Another person, who might be living in the same neighborhood, can follow the exact same procedure. They have their own deity, who is the same Supreme Lord. They are drawing their circle, so to speak, but there is no overlap. There is no limit.

In the case of competition, where I feel inferior to my neighbor in the outpouring of devotional affection, in the steadiness and dedication to the process, there still won’t be a conflict. This competitiveness has appreciation at the foundation. I think that my neighbor is a better devotee.

We see the transcendental side to this competitiveness in the gopis of Vrindavana. They love Shri Krishna so much, but they would never dream of taking away someone else’s service. Rather, they are so impressed by what others have to offer.

An example is the flute. The gopis consider the flute to be so fortunate, since it gets to always associate with Krishna. Their view is so expansive, that they see the benefit accrued by the component factors. The gopis appreciate the tree that is used to produce the flute. They appreciate the grass that surrounds the tree. They consider the adjacent river to be benefitted, as well.

[Shri Krishna]In this way, the appreciation only increases. Whereas in the absence of Krishna at the center no one is ever happy at the good fortune of another, in devotional service the appreciation only expands. This lends further support to the claim that bhakti-yoga is not of this world. It is not limited in the ways that we experience a life devoid of Krishna consciousness.

In Closing:

Friend not interested in me,
Self-centered to be.

Because my interests to collide,
Rather my gains to deride.

Bhakti different way flowing,
Like appreciation gopis showing.

To tree, grass and even river near,
Because of flute to Krishna dear.

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1 reply

  1. Radhe Radhe ❣️ oshriRadhekrishnaBole ❣️ Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Jay Jay Shree Siya Ram

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