Calcutta, West Bengal, India — Wednesday, June 21st

Going forward

I always try to be careful about what I write in my blogs — especially when I write about anything that happens on Srila Gurudeva's veranda — because I never want to (even inadvertently) misrepresent anything that His Divine Grace says, reveal privileged or confidential information, or portray his servitors or disciples in an unfavorable light.

It did not take me long to write the Backpedaling blog, but I did not post it on the web immediately because I fretted: Did I say too much? Would anybody feel slighted? Was this too boring?

When I did eventually publish it a few days later, I must say that I was surprised at the number of emails that I received: three within the first forty-five minutes alone! I'm so often amazed at the effect that a simple blog can have. And the biggest response always seems to come from the blogs that I dash off in a couple of hours rather than the ones I spend days polishing! (Note to self :)

Most of the email empathized with my self-consciousness and "nagging suspicion that this so-called service is unnecessary — something I just made up to make myself feel useful." As Gandharva Devi Dasi (from Zaporizhzhya in the Ukraine) wrote:

All Glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga!

Dear Maharaj,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

When I enter the Russian web page and see the familiar iMonk links, then I feel that everything is good and I have finally come home, "where the walls help." Thank you!

I try to print your articles and read them at our nama-hatta gatherings. But last meeting I didn't take anything there, so everybody just silently looked at me and Yuteshwari couldn't resist asking: "Why didn't you bring any articles of Akinchan Maharaj?" So next time I will "assume my usual position" for sure. I just could not find better words than yours in the article, Backpedaling.

As for your article, Sri Guru and His Grace, it clearly showed me how the Mercy (by the Supreme Will through the devotees) penetrates into this material world and reveals itself.

We have so much hope for meeting with you this summer.

With deep respect,

Gandharva Devi Dasi

Although most of the devotees were sympathetic, some, like this email from Caracas, Venezuela, reminded me that we cannot allow our mental malaise to prevent us from doing service:

I just read your last writing, Backpedaling, and it's just beautiful. It's true, our mind sometimes tells us things that disturb us and make us take the wrong decision; we have to follow our heart and quiet our mind. Thank you very much for teaching us and helping us through your web site.

The majority of readers could relate to my service angst, because, as one devotee pointed out, it is so easy to develop "an inflated sense of self-importance" and to start thinking, "my service is so valuable and needed..."

I am conscious of my own deficiencies, and I was a little concerned that Backpedaling might be misconstrued as impugning the service of others rather than a preoccupation with my own shortcomings, but that fear was assuaged by this email from Vaidehi Devi Dasi in California, USA:

I read you entry Backpedaling and I loved it so much. It makes me think about how Srila Gurudev is here allowing us to serve him for our benefit, not for his. Can you believe it? You are so fortunate to be at his feet, just two steps away!

And that, I think, nicely sums up the import of the Backpedaling blog: "Srila Gurudeva allows us to serve him for our benefit, not for his."

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Layout by iMonk — June 21st, 2006.