How To Cooperate When You Can’t

Learning to cooperate and develop good working relationships is a vital skill for the health and continued expansion of Iskcon.

We perform many austerities in Krsna consciousness: we rise early, we live simply, and we often serve despite difficult physical or external challenges. We may go out on Harinam in freezing weather, get harassed by unfavorable people when we preach, or spend nights without sufficient rest in order to organize programs or festivals or travel to a new preaching venue. And we often end up with more service than we can handle or are given services that seem to be beyond our abilities – or both!

But I think the greatest austerity is to work well with devotees.

If the day comes when robots are used to perform tasks that only humans can do now, I believe people will prefer dealing with robots over humans. After all, people get upset; people get moody; people misunderstand you. Sometimes people can’t even carry out simple instructions, or they do stupid things. And some people just can’t seem to get along with anyone.

Then there are those who will gossip about you, talk behind your back and even try to pull you down. Others will make up stories about you. (I can’t wait to hire a robot!).

Our austerity is to come together with all different kinds of devotees – the ones we like and the ones we don’t – and work harmoniously and synergistically in Prabhupada’s service.

If we don’t cooperate well, thousands of innocent people who want and need Krsna consciousness won’t get it. When Prabhupada implored us to work well together he was really telling us to, “Work together even if you can’t.”

This is can be a huge challenge. But it is a simple truth that qualified people who can’t get along well only accomplish a fraction of what is possible for them. When we don’t work well together it is common to lose inspiration, become frustrated and or feel like giving up. The expansion of the movement thus suffers because of our inability to work well with others.

Prabhupada said, “The movement can only be stopped from within.” That is a scary thought. But  even if we don’t stop it completely, we can certainly slow it down dramatically by our negative attitudes and unwillingness to work well together.

We all have a responsibility to become a supportive and encouraging force in Iskcon. But how can we do this when we are confronted with the mistakes and faults of others?

This is what we explore in the workshop. We delve deeply into the psychology of interpersonal relationships and their effect on group dynamics. It is just as much a personal transformation workshop as it is a relationship building workshop.

There is only one person who can help make ISKCON better, and that is you. It is not about others changing and becoming better, it is about each and every one of us becoming better.

We cannot overstress the importance of good communication and relationships skills are. Personally, if I could only teach my daughter one life skill it would be how to get along well with people.

I believe improving yourself should be a top priority and a life-long process. And unless you live in a cave, you relate with people every day. Having good relationship and communication skills based on spiritual understanding is one of the most valuable assets you could have, both for you spiritual progress and for your material success.

If this course only helps you improve one important relationship, it will be well worth it.