Visakha dasi ACBSP: Think of a topiary. A topiary is a shrub clipped to create a particular shape. When we look at a topiary, we don’t see the plant’s natural shape but the shape that’s been imposed on it. Topiaries may be visually entertaining, but when that “clipping” is applied to people and they are forced to function in ways that may be artificial for them, it leads to misery. To prevent someone from serving Krishna according to his or her personal proclivities is a kind of violence. No one wins – not the persons involved, not the Hare Krishna society, and not the promotion of Krishna consciousness. It’s a lose-lose-lose scenario.
Empowerment is the opposite of this forced “topiary” methodology. To empower means to recognize, encourage, and facilitate one’s abilities and then create a framework in which one can work in a stronger and more confident way. To empower, then, means to recognize others’ qualities, trust them, and offer them fresh challenges.