Helping people up the ‘Ladder of Ideas’


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A member of our congregation recently asked me how to communicate the basic ideas of Krishna consciousness to an newly interested person. I replied that Srila Prabhupada showed us many ways to talk to new people, but that I felt it was important to have a number of ideas with logical connections between them. “Get them nodding from the beginning,” I told him. “You need ideas with which a thoughtful, spiritually-minded person can agree. Get them agreeing with five easy ideas before you introduce any difficult ideas. Most importantly, they should be ideas that you can memorise, in the right order, and recall immediately.”

I call my list of points my ‘ladder of ideas’ with each point being a rung on the ladder. I try to avoid having anyone jump up more than rung at once. I have slightly different ladders for different folks. Perhaps readers can send me their own favourite ‘ladder of ideas?’

Here’s one I used recently which spanned maybe three conversations with the new person:

1. The biological senses are insufficient to understand the universe, what to speak of its origin.

2. Vedas are one source of information. Why not at least hypothetically have them as a reference point?

3. What do they say? That there is matter and spirit. The body is matter and soul is spirit.

4. Spirit survives the experience known as death – therefore we survive death.

5. Which means we were also there before the experience known as birth.

6. Reincarnation takes place.

7. According to the level of consciousness and the accumulated reactions from all actions, the spirit acquires a new body.

8. This repeated birth and death, and the suffering and frustration which accompanies it, is possible to escape through a process known as yoga.

9. There are many different forms of Yoga, designed for different levels of human capability. Mantra meditation is powerful for the present age. The Hare Krishna mantra is the recommended mantra.

10. There are recommended disciplines to accompany the Yoga practices, just like diet goes with medicine if you want to return to full health.

11. These disciplines are non-sectarian and you will find them embedded in all spiritual paths and recommended by all saintly teachers.

12. The spiritual principles of mercy, truth, cleanliness and austerity can be introduced into one’s life by these four cardinal disciplines. When your personal choices in life become informed by your recognition of the value of these disciplines, you introduce powerful enhancement for your spiritual path.

13. There are three levels of progressive revelation of the divine: Brahman – the divine white light, Paramatma – the indwelling universal soul and observer, Bhagavan – the original and supreme personal intelligence behind all existence.

14. We are all related to Krishna and we can experience our unique relationship with Him as we walk the path of liberation.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Helping people up the ‘Ladder of Ideas’

  1. Thank you for this. I’ve always been interested to find a step-by-step logical progression presenting the vast ocean of Krsna Consciousness in a very essential and approachable form, and this is right on.
    The use of easy to relate to language is particularly valuable over and above the progression of ideas.
    I very much appreciate your writings for not only being approachable, intriguing, and informative but also innately poetic.

  2. Thanks for your comment Rasikananda prabhu. I think it is important to meet people where they are, and that includes language, if we want to best communicate with them. But at the same time not resort to slang. And simultaneously be always ready to refer to scripture. Its not easy to keep that balance.

    Neither is it easy to present ideas in logical sequence, or to resist the temptation to jump up a few rungs of the ladder because we think a person is really understanding something.

    Preaching is an art form isn’t it?

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