Your group should have expanded to include close to 15 members by now, and they should be quite comfortable with one another and enjoying the programs together.
It is not advisable to keep inviting new members to join your group now as they may find it difficult to keep up with the level of the rest of the group.
Nevertheless, if somebody is very eager to join you and you cannot find another suitable group for them, you could include them in your group. But give them a brief introduction of what the Krsna consciousness movement is about, about how we are eternal souls and what the purpose of our lives is, etc.
During the spiritual edification class, you can have the new comer/s sit separately discuss the earlier spiritual edifications.. You could also ask them to come another day of the week if possible to give them some special attention to help them understand what is happening in the program. In this way it is still possible to integrate the new comers.
For those who are still a little new to the group or are somehow not reading yet, you could ask the question: “If you could give an advice to all the members of this group, what would that be?”
The regular members should have learnt the kirtan tune by now. You can add more simple tunes for your kirtan, and teach the members to play the karatala, mridanga , etc.
Distribute the sheet containing the pranama mantras and the Hare Krsna mantra as well as the glorifications at the end of the kirtana to the newer members.
Continue with the offering of incense by every member to the Alter Deities or Deity pictures.
Read out first, the following passage from:
Chant a mala of japa together loudly after chanting the Panca tattva mantra 3 times together. Enquire from the members after the japa, how they feel now after chanting 8 minimum rounds at home everyday. You could ask one or two members to share their realizations. The others you could ask in the subsequent weeks.
Spiritual Edification- 45 minutes
If there are newcomers to the group, then you should give them a brief introduction on Krsna consciousness and a summary of what you have been doing so far. It is better to give them the first week’s edification to go through. If there is more than one member, you can facilitate a discussion between them separately. This should not be difficult as the other members are also going to be discussing in smaller groups as you will find out below:
You should divide the group into 2 or 3 groups and make them sit in circles. Make sure that the group is evenly distributed with regard to the number of senior, junior and new members in them.
Distribute the sheets containing the spiritual edification to the members. You could ask a senior member in each group to be the group spokesman/woman.
The leader of each group has to facilitate the participation of all the members, encouraging each one to answer the question addressed to them. Let the leader take down their points. This procedure is only for the Discovery and understanding sessions.
After this the whole group can sit in a circle. You can ask the leaders to read out the consolidated answers of their respective groups for each of the questions.
After this, you can ask each one of them to answer the application question one by one.
You can then sum up the spiritual edification lesson once again and add more points relevant to the topic. You can also include interesting pastimes of the Lord and his devotees, current topics etc, to substantiate the topic.
SPIRITUAL EDIFICATION: 27
From “Bhagavad-gita As it is
BY DIVINE GRACE A.C. BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA
Bg. Ch-4 Text – 10
man-maya mam upasritah
puta mad-bhavam agatah
Being freed from attachment, fear and anger, being fully absorbed in Me and taking refuge in Me, many, many persons in the past became purified by knowledge of Me—and thus they all attained transcendental love for Me.
As described above, it is very difficult for a person who is too materially affected to understand the personal nature of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Generally, people who are attached to the bodily conception of life are so absorbed in materialism that it is almost impossible for them to understand how the Supreme can be a person. Such materialists cannot even imagine that there is a transcendental body which is imperishable, full of knowledge and eternally blissful.
In the materialistic concept, the body is perishable, full of ignorance and completely miserable. Therefore, people in general keep this same bodily idea in mind when they are informed of the personal form of the Lord. For such materialistic men, the form of the gigantic material manifestation is supreme. Consequently they consider the Supreme to be impersonal. And because they are too materially absorbed, the conception of retaining the personality after liberation from matter frightens them. When they are informed that spiritual life is also individual and personal, they become afraid of becoming persons again, and so they naturally prefer a kind of merging into the impersonal void.
Generally, they compare the living entities to the bubbles of the ocean, which merge into the ocean. That is the highest perfection of spiritual existence attainable without individual personality. This is a kind of fearful stage of life, devoid of perfect knowledge of spiritual existence.
Furthermore there are many persons who cannot understand spiritual existence at all. Being embarrassed by so many theories and by contradictions of various types of philosophical speculation, they become disgusted or angry and foolishly conclude that there is no supreme cause and that everything is ultimately void. Such people are in a diseased condition of life.
Some people are too materially attached and therefore do not give attention to spiritual life, some of them want to merge into the supreme spiritual cause, and some of them disbelieve in everything, being angry at all sorts of spiritual speculation out of hopelessness. This last class of men take to the shelter of some kind of intoxication, and their affective hallucinations are sometimes accepted as spiritual vision. One has to get rid of all three stages of attachment to the material world: negligence of spiritual life, fear of a spiritual personal identity, and the conception of void that arises from frustration in life.
To get free from these three stages of the material concept of life, one has to take complete shelter of the Lord, guided by the bona fide spiritual master, and follow the disciplines and regulative principles of devotional life. The last stage of the devotional life is called bhava, or transcendental love of Godhead.
According to Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.4.15–16), the science of devotional service:
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
athasaktis tato bhavas
“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated.
In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service.
By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna.
This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krsna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.” In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord.
So, by the slow process of devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations that result in void philosophy. Then one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord.
Discovery: 1) What qualifications are necessary to attain love of God?
1) Why are some people afraid of the personal form of the Lord? What form of the Lord do they prefer?
2) Why are some people angry about any form of spiritual life? What do they take shelter of?
3) Why are some people indifferent to spiritual life?
4) How can we rise above all the 3 material concepts of life and attain love of Godhead?
5) Give a brief description of the stages one will go through before attaining love of Godhead or prema.
Application: Are you convinced that God or Krsna is a person and that attaining love of Krsna is the highest perfection of life? Share your realizations.
Preaching Session: 15 minutes
Read out the following passage:
With more devotees now on the Krsna sadhak level, you can start entrusting more preaching responsibilities to them.
Making phone calls to remind the new members of the Bhakti Vrksha programs, enquiring the well being of the newer members during the week and slowly encouraging them to start chanting, visiting new members in their homes to give them some association and encouragement etc. can all be distributed to the senior members of the group.
The juniors could try to get their colleagues at work, their neighbors, friends, relatives, etc to bring them to the program.
So after you share your preaching work done for the week, entrust all the members with their respective responsibilities for the week, and note it down. You should ask them for the report the subsequent week and give them further tasks to do.
Discuss any doubts or queries they may have about their preaching services.
You can also engage all of them in book distribution to their friends and acquaintances.
Prasadam: 20 minutes
Let the entire distribution of the prasadam, including the cleaning up be organized by the members themselves. They can take turns every week in doing the services. You can ensure that no one is burdened and at the same time every body gets a chance to share in the services. Do not force any one to do the services, but ask for volunteers.
If children volunteer to read out the prasadam mantra, they can be given turns to do so. Devotees repeat each line after them.
You can spend time giving your association to the members while everyone honors the prasadam.
please enter the details about your members attending this week:
Current Siksa status