Spiritual Purity: The Driving Force Behind ISKCON’s Success
Seminar, 6 May 2005
ISKCON Festival of Inspiration
New Vrndavana, West Virginia USA
Hare Krishna . . . The seminar you are attending is “Spiritual Purity: The Driving Force behind ISKCON’s Success” . . . This is Sankarshan prabhu. Those of you who were at his seminar just a few minutes ago heard about his wonderful success with Internet preaching. Sankarshan prabhu has been preaching in Austin for some time, but the greatest thing is that he’s giving Krishna consciousness all over the world via the Internet and inspiring people by the purity of the preaching and the power of the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. So in this seminar he will address spiritual purity as the cause of success. I give you Sankarshan prabhu . . .
Thank you very much.
The foundation of our purity is the Holy Name. We began our Internet seminar with a kirtan; now we will also do kirtan, because this is our purity - the Holy Name is our purity.
visnu-padaya krsna-presthaya bhu-tale
caitanya prabhu nityananda
Hare Krishna Hare
Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
sri-caitanya-mano-bhistam sthapitam yena bhu-tale
So now we are giving Part II of our presentation. As we heard in yesterday morning’s Srimad Bhagavatam class, Prabhupada has given a very nice translation for bahir nrsimho hrdaye nrsimho; we sing that every morning. Literally it means, “externally Nrsimha” and “internally Nrsimha” – that is the literal Sanskrit. But Prabhupada has expanded it for our understanding: “May Lord Nrsimhadeva dwell within my heart, destroying all my bad propensities; may my heart become completely cleaned, and may I be able to spread peace all over the world.”
The first seminar we gave was on how to create a revolution in cyberspace. But you really can’t do that unless you have spiritual potency, and spiritual potency comes about from spiritual purity. You can’t fake spiritual potency; and to the extent that we are pure, we are potent.
There are all kinds of benefits from this spiritual purity. The actual position is that by nature we are pure. It’s just like when the water falls from the sky it is pure, distilled water; but when it comes in contact with the earth it becomes muddied, polluted. The original nature of the living being is pure. He is eternal; he is pure; he is sac-cid-ananda – he is eternal, full of knowledge, and full of bliss.
So our present position in this material existence, which is asat-acid-nirananda, is an artificial position. It is not natural. Sometimes we think it is difficult to become Krishna conscious, to become purely Krishna conscious. We think, “Yeah, I can be a devotee, but I can’t really be a pure devotee – that’s something we read about in the Bhagavatam, but I can’t really do that.” We all have this doubt that we can really become pure devotees, like the great personalities in the Bhagavatam. But do you know what Prabhupada wrote to me in a letter? He said, “No; you just become qualified to see Krishna face to face.” That is, Prabhupada is ordering me to become so pure that I can have Krishna’s direct darshan. That was Prabhupada’s instruction to me. And it wasn’t just to me. That instruction is to all of us, actually. Prabhupada wants us all to become so pure that we can actually have Krishna’s darshan – to be on that level of purity. Not just a card-carrying ISKCON member; that’s not enough. We have to become pure devotees. And the benefit of developing that purity is? Nectar.
Krishna consciousness, in the real sense of the word, means to taste the sweetest nectar at every minute – the sweetest, most indescribable, most inconceivable nectar at every minute. That’s what it actually means to be Krishna conscious. Now, how many of us are Krishna conscious? Now all the hands stay down, you see. But we can understand that we are not tasting the sweetest nectar at every minute – the sweetest, most indescribable, most inconceivable nectar at every minute – because we are not Krishna conscious. Not because it is impossible to taste it but, we understand, because we are not Krishna conscious. That state of mind is a very nice state of mind to be in. That is the state of mind of Narottama das Thakur when he says,
Narottama is lamenting, “I am not Krishna conscious! When will that day come when I finally become Krishna conscious? And what will be the sign of my Krishna consciousness? When I can say, ‘Gauranga!’ and feel ecstasy all over my body; my body will tremble with ecstasy. And when I chant, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare, tears will come streaming down my face. Then I will be Krishna conscious.”
Prabhupada showed this - the ecstasy he felt. We were made to see Prabhupada’s ectasy. Even in his Deity form we saw in Atlanta at the Panihati Festival several years ago - during an ecstatic kirtan the murti was actually crying tears. Real tears were coming down his face – the murti of Prabhupada was crying! So Narottama is hankering for that day when he can actually cry tears of love when chanting the Holy Name. He is saying, “When my mind becomes completely pure, then I can enter Vrndavana.”
Now what is our normal mood about entering Vrndavana? “Well, I can save up for the ticket; I can get the taxi out from the airport – that’s how I arrive at Vrndavana.” Sorry, prabhus and matajis - you did not arrive in Vrndavana! That’s just a shadow of the actual Vrndavana - the shadow. The real Vrndavana is accessed only when we develop a pure heart, suta - when the mind becomes suta, completely purified from all material desire. That’s the meaning of entering Vrndavana. So Narottama is also praying for that: “When will my mind become completely pure, so I can really enter into Sri Vrndavana Dham?”
So the question is: Okay; these are very nice concepts; now how can I make them reality in my life? We can talk about this all day, but how do I make it real? How do I actually purify myself?
Again, Narottama das Thakur is one of the greatest resources for this information. Anande bolo hari, bhaja vrndavana / sri-guru-vaisnava-pade majaiya mana - such a wonderful song. He is saying these four things: First, ecstatically chant Hare Krishna. Is anybody having trouble ecstatically chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, especially at this Festival of Inspiration? Ecstatically chant Hare Krishna. Then he says, bhaja Vrndavana. Well, that Vrndavana is expanded all over the world. We can say “bhaja New Vrndavana” also. We can worship this holy tirtha – a holy tirtha is worshipable. Your own temple or your own ISKCON center is also a manifestation of Vrndavana; it is worshipable. Whatever tirthas – even your own home where you make an altar, a place of worship - that is also a manifestation of Vrndavana . . .
So you ecstatically chant Hare Krishna; you worship that sacred place of Krishna consciousness manifested in your home or in your local ISKCON center or in a place of pilgrimage, like New Vrndavana or the original Vrndavana – worship those places. And then what does he say? Sri-guru-vaisnava-pade majaiya mana. Of course as disciples we are supposed to worship the lotus feet of our guru; we always hear that – sri guru carana padma. But Narottama is also saying, “Worship the feet of all the Vaisnavas.” It’s not that I worship the feet of my guru, and to heck with all the other devotees. No; actually we worship the Holy Name, we worship the Holy Dham, we worship the spiritual master, and we worship all the devotees.
So these activities of building strong relationships with the Holy Name, the Holy Dham, the spiritual master, and the Vaisnavas – these four activities of building strong, strong relationships are the very foundation of our spiritual purity. And all four of these activities are very wonderful. Is there anything more wonderful than having a nice, loving relationship with a devotee? It’s so sweet; it’s so wonderful. We have to master the art of having relationships with an ever-growing family of devotees. The more we can build strong, loving relationships with Vaisnavas, the more and more and more we become purified. So by these activities given by Narottama das we can come back to that spiritual purity.
We’re talking about spiritual purity – of course it’s called the driving force behind ISKCON’s success – but actually there’s something even more important: your success. Prabhupada said that the most important thing is to save the world, but even more important is to save yourself. So actually the most important thing to consider is how can I become successful in Krishna consciousness – how can I become a pure devotee of Krishna? That’s the most important duty that each and every one of us has: to become a completely, spotlessly pure devotee of the Lord. Pure devotion is a very contagious disease. The more that pure devotion is manifested in our Society, the more our Society will become a powerful magnet to suck the whole world into this whirlpool of Lord Caitanya’s mercy. This is the interesting thing: just by developing your own purity, you’re actually having an impact on the future of the world.
Recently, when I got back from Istanbul, I went to my acupuncturist and the acupuncturist asked, “Did you see the sights when you were in Istanbul?” I said, “No, we’re not interested in that. We went there to make a revolution, not see the sights.” To give an example, a Krishna conscious person is actually not very interested in watching the news on television. A Krishna conscious person would rather make the news, or be the news, than watch the news. This is more exciting. Why study history when you can be history? Actually, anyone who takes up this mission of Krishna consciousness with all seriousness is making history every day by what they do. Each and every one of you can be a pivotal person in the history of this entire planet just by practicing pure devotion on a daily basis in your home, in your office - wherever you go. On your commute, in your temple, when you’re shopping – wherever you go, just always try to manifest pure devotion.
And how do you do that? Well, we have three things that are acting: we have the mind, we have the words, and we have activities. The mind: it begins there. One should be very introspective and see, “This thought I’m thinking - will this please my guru? Will this please Srila Prabhupada? Will this be pleasing to Krishna, this thought I’m having in my mind right now?” And then when you’re speaking: “These words that I’m speaking now – would they please my spiritual master, if he were hearing me speak these words right now? Would they please Srila Prabhupada? Would they please Krishna?” And similarly with your activities. So we should be very, very introspective about everything that we think, everything that we do, and everything that we speak. Always be cultivating purity, purity, purity, purity in everything.
I’m going to give you a very amazing quote which just absolutely, literally blows my mind every time I remember it. This is from Caitanya Caritamrita . . . one of Prabhupada’s most amazing quotes. He says that anyone who purely chants the holy name of Krishna without any offense becomes jagatguru, and under his influence the entire world will take up Krishna consciousness.
So do you think Prabhupada would like you to come to that standard of purity, where you can influence the whole world to take up Krishna consciousness? “Oh, he didn’t really mean me – that’s for the sannyasis, that’s for the gurus, that’s for the Prabhupada disciples” or “that’s for the brahmacaris or the full-time preachers – that’s not really for me, in my household life or whatever I’m doing . . . that wouldn’t apply to me.” But wait a minute: Did Prabhupada say it doesn’t apply to you? Do you think Prabhupada doesn’t want you to become a pure chanter of the holy names? Every man, woman and child in this movement is being encouraged by Prabhupada in this statement to become jagatguru– one who can influence the whole universe to take up Krishna consciousness . . . Prabhupada is actually saying that in the Caitanya Caritamrita. That’s how important purity is.
I title this, “The Driving Force Behind ISKCON’s Success”; my proof is Prabhupada’s statement. In other words, according to the individual purity that you have in your practice of Krishna consciousness, you are having an impact on this planet right now. You’re having an impact on the slaughterhouses, the brothels, the liquor shops, the governments – and here is another amazing thing: This is from a tape I play when I brush my teeth in the morning - a Prabupada lecture. He says the world is being managed by rogues and demons; then he says, “Now you make your life successful and you take the management of this planet.” Can you imagine that Prabhupada wants us to lead this entire world? This is not just some religious organization, where we enjoy the Sunday program and sit and hear some lectures. We are meant to be the spiritual leaders of this entire planet! Not in name only, but in actual practice! Each and every one of us is meant to be so pure that we can go to some country and guide that entire nation – guide the king or prime minister or president of that country in how to make that whole country Krishna conscious. So when I’m talking about purity here, I’m talking about very serious purity, not just “well, you know, I follow the principles, I chant my rounds, I attend Mangal Arati most of the time, or maybe once a week” – I’m talking about pure devotion. Prabhupada wants us to come to that level
You may say, “Oh, it’s just too much. It’s too discouraging to strive for pure devotion because I know I can’t make it. Why should I even try?” But wait a minute: pure devotion is our natural, original state of consciousness. The original, natural energy of the living being is he is a pure devotee of Krishna. So actually the impurities and the anarthas that we presently have in our hearts – those are unnatural. Those are things that don’t belong there; they’re an imposition. They’re not who you really are! You’re not those lusty thoughts that go through your mind regularly, or those greedy thoughts, or those angry thoughts that go through your mind – that’s not you. You’re actually a pure devotee, but you’re covered now with these anarthas.
So we have to take up a very aggressive program of getting the anarthas out of our heart. I think everyone has heard the list of the nine different steps. It bears repeating; it’s a very valuable list from Rupa Goswami.
The first step is faith, sraddha. We have to have very strong faith that Krishna is God and that the devotees are very good people to associate with. When we come to the point of that faith and we associate, it’s called sadhu-sangha: association with devotees. We see what the devotees are doing; we find out what they’re doing – chanting, following the principles, becoming initiated under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master who conducts their lives - that’s the next stage Prabhupada explains: bhajana-kriya. Then from bhajana-kriya what happens? The next stage is to get all that dirt out of your heart: anartha-nivrtti. As that dirt is clearing out of your heart, then you come to the next stage which is called nista: you become a fixed-up devotee; very solid. That’s a term we used to use in the old days - “he’s a really ‘fixed-up’ devotee”. The Sanskrit for that is nista: one who is very, very solid in Krishna consciousness - ‘fixed up’.
So what then happens when you become fixed up? You start to develop a very, very sweet taste when you chant Hare Krishna. It becomes just like the ultimate gulab jamun: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. It becomes so sweet, so relishable - you can just squeeze the juice out of it! And then what happens after this stage, ruci? Then you come to asakti. In that stage you become absolutely addicted to Holy Name. If you had to stop chanting for a second you’d go through withdrawal symptoms - you can’t even tolerate not chanting for a second. To be out of Krishna consciousness is like having a knife stabbed into your heart . . .
And then, if that wasn’t enough nectar - to be at the level of asakti - then you come to bhava: you have volcanic eruptions of Krishna consciousness within your heart. It’s like a volcano in your heart erupting. Finally you come to prema, where your original rasa with Krishna becomes re-established. Interestingly, it’s described by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur in the Madhurya Kadambini that devotees in this perfectional stage, even while they’re walking around in their material bodies, can actually be engaged in their rasa with Krishna. When their body dies, they don’t even know what happened. They aren’t even aware because at that level, even while in a material body on this plane, they can actually be engaged in their rasa with Krishna in the spiritual world – so they don’t even know they’ve died. What’s the question of fear of death if you didn’t even know it happened? You’re so busy fanning Krishna, or checking out what Mother Yasoda packed his lunch bag, you didn’t even know that your material body dropped dead. These are very high states of consciousness described by Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur.
So you can see that pure devotion is definitely worth cultivating. And that’s on the internal level. Externally, this is actually the driving force behind ISKCON’s success. Now many people say, “Well, our principles are really too strict; we kind of have to loosen up a little bit, to attract the modern-day world.” That’s a bunch of nonsense - absolute nonsense. If you have a medicine that’s effective, then you keep it. If you have a medicine which is actually effective at curing the disease of material madness, then that medicine has to be kept in its original, pure state. How carefully do they guard the Coca-Cola formula, for example? Remember a few years ago, how they tried to make a ‘new, improved’ Coca-Cola? There was an absolute revolt - “No, we want the original Coca-Cola!” Likewise, we sometimes see in our movement a tendency to think, “Well, we have to have a new, improved ISKCON.” But just like the original formula of Coca-Cola is the best, the original form of ISKCON that Prabhupada has given us – that he has shown us by his practical example – that is the formula. And we’re going to stick with this formula. This formula is what is going to make ISKCON successful - not ‘adapting’, saying that we have to adapt to the new times - that we have to have gay marriages, we have to do this, we have to do that, we have to be up with the times. No – the times have to come up to us. This is not a statement of pride. This is the actual standard of human civilization given by Srila Prabhupada. Prabhupada said, “I’ve not gone to learn their customs, I’ve gone to teach them my customs.”
So we should not waver in our faith, in our fixity of consciousness that Prabhupada has given us as the perfect formula. It does have to be presented according to time, place and circumstance, no doubt, but as Sridhara Swami one time said, “It’s okay to go in like a needle as long as you come out like a plow.” We can adapt. When I was preaching in Istanbul recently, I very much adapted to a Muslim audience. I knew I wasn’t talking to a room full of Hindus. We were at a meditation center, so I talked about Absolute Truth, etc. We can tailor the message thousands and millions of different ways according to the audience – “in like a needle” - but the final conclusion always comes out exactly the same way: Krishna is God; you’re His eternal servant; you have to surrender to Him through the medium of the bona fide spiritual master, the parampara system . . .
The real challenge for each and every one of us is this: “How do I become the pure devotee that I’d like to be? How do I really do it? I go through times when I am very enlivened and inspired in my service, and I go through times when I am really just discouraged, down, depressed – times when I don’t have the enthusiasm. How do I become steady and fixed in Krishna consciousness, so that I can actually develop that purity on a steady basis at every minute, and never waiver in that fixity of consciousness?”
The other day Krishna inspired me in this connection. I was speaking in Amsterdam on this point, and I said, “When you’re down, get down.” In other words, when you feel discouraged and you don’t feel the enthusiasm - when you feel the anarthas are too much – at that point you should get down on the floor: in front of the Deities, in front of your spiritual master’s photograph, in front of Prabhupada’s deity. Put yourself in a very humble position. Get down on the floor and just beg. Beg for the mercy that you can become pure. We have to become very good beggars. Narottama gives a nice example. He says, “My dear Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, you are famous for being patita pavana, the friend of the fallen, and you will not find anybody more fallen than I. Therefore my claim for your mercy is first. In front of that big queue of people waiting for your mercy, I get to go to the front of the line, Lord Caitanya, because nobody is as fallen as I am.
This mood of humbleness - feeling that we’re very low, very degraded and abominable – this is great. Whenever you feel discouraged that you’re just so wretched and so fallen, capitalize on that feeling. It’s a good feeling. Use it in the proper way, when you’re feeling, “I just can’t get it together in Krishna consciousness, I’m useless” . . . don’t think this is a bad thing. Recall that Kunti was praying for difficulties. She was begging to be down, because then she could really, really, really take shelter of Krishna, feel His presence, and feel that she is now immune to birth and death.
So in this way take every single situation you’re in and use it to your advantage. There is no such thing as a reverse condition for someone who is fixed in Krishna consciousness. ‘Reverse condition’ is the misperception of a person who is not absorbed in Krishna consciousness. A Krishna conscious person knows how to use everything to his advantage. Prabhupada one time said, “A successful businessman, when the market prices are high, he sells; when the prices are low, he buys.” He’s always using whatever the atmosphere is in the business market to further his business. So in this way, for every moment of our existence, we can utilize that moment to expand our Krishna consciousness. If you’re feeling ebullient, you’re feeling enlivened - then use that to enliven others in their Krishna consciousness. The more you can enliven others in their spiritual life by preaching, by sharing the mercy of Krishna with others, you’ll find that your ecstasy simply grows and grows and grows, ad infinitum.
There’s no limit to how much nectar one can actually taste in Krishna consciousness. The amount of nectar that can be tasted in Krishna consciousness is simply inconceivable. We can’t even conceive of how much nectar is available in just one, pure utterance of Krish-na. Take all the enjoyment of this material world, all the things that are enjoyable - all the acts of sexual intercourse that people are having, all the money, all the prestige, all the clothes and the houses, all the sense gratification – put that on one side of the scale an multiply it by ten billion times, and then on the other side put one pure utterance of “Krish-na” – and the scale just goes pshew!
This Krishna consciousness is not a joke. This is real. This actually brings us back to our original position, our position before we fell into this material world. This brings us back to the pure consciousness that we originally had when we were eternal associates of Krishna in the spiritual world. Prabhupada explains this in the introduction to the Bhagavad-gita. He says that there is a state of our existence called svarupa-siddhi. Svarupa means “his own form”. Each of us has a spiritual form in the spiritual world, but we’ve forgotten what it is. Siddhi means “perfection”. So that’s what is awaiting each and every one of us: Our svarupa-siddhi perfection is awaiting when we actually remember who we were in the spiritual world. Whether you’re a cowherd boy or a cowherd girl or a butterfly or a rock, or whatever you may be – you could be in the Vaikuntha realm, as a follower of Lord Narayana – your eternal identity is actually there just waiting for you. Prabhupada did point out in one lecture that you can actually change rasas too, if you want – it’s not that you’re locked into a rasa - but generally people don’t do that because they usually feel that their rasa is the best. Prabhupada even explains how the fruit is feeling that he is more fortunate than even the gopis, because he is getting Krishna’s lips even more than the gopis are getting.
So the point is that we all have a wonderful identity in Krishna’s eternal pastimes - every one of us has an identity just waiting there. There’s only one thing standing between you and your entering back into that svarupa-siddhi, and that is those rascal anarthas that are choking your heart right now. Do you see why it’s nice to become very enthusiastic to get rid of this crud, this baggage we’ve been carrying around for millions of lifetimes - why it would be worth our while to focus on doing that, and not just saying about the external thing, “Well, I did my rounds today, and I’m following the principles, and I went to the temple, and I heard a class, and I bowed down this many times”? Those are external things, and those we have to do. But the real work is inside. We have to be diligently working to clean all that crud out that’s keeping us here in this false identification with “I’m a male, I’m a female; I’m white, I’m black; I’m American, I’m this, I’m that” – so many ridiculous, absurd things that we carry around.
Sometimes we have a tendency to avoid struggle. We want to take it the easy way. But that’s not a very good move. We should take the struggle of becoming a pure devotee and embrace it tightly. This is the most wonderful, exciting adventure - to conquer over this subtle body that’s been keeping me here for millions and millions of births! The gross body is a piece of cake to get rid of because every time you die, you get rid of it – it’s finished. The gross body is not that big of a problem. The problem is the subtle body – that’s the big, big problem. That subtle body has carried us from birth to birth to birth, millions and millions of lifetimes. That subtle body has kept us handcuffed, imprisoned in this horrible place called the material world. So we really have to work to get free from that subtle body. That’s why the anartha-nivrtti is so important – to get all that crud out of the heart.
These songs of Bhaktivinode and Narottama are very, very helpful for this purpose. We simply can intensely hanker, just like Bhaktivinode in Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar. Actually the English is singable too:
When, oh when will that day be mine?
suddha name ruci
When my offenses
ceasing, taste for the name increasing
kabe ha’be bolo se-din amar
When, oh when will that day be mine?
We have to have that kind of hankering. This song is really good. If you’re ever feeling that your anarthas are just too much, just sing Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar. Just put yourself in the mood of hankering, “When, oh when will I get free of all this crud?”
In the second verse Bhaktivinode says,
Lower than a blade
of grass, more tolerant than a tree
kabe habe bolo se din amar
When, oh when will that day be mine?
So we can intensely hanker, “Now I’m just suffering like anything - I’m so puffed up, I’m so proud; I think I’m advanced in Krishna consciousness; I think I’m great” – we have to realize that this false pride is causing us so much unnecessary torment, and just learn how to become very, very humble.
These songs of Narottama and Bhaktivinode - I highly recommend that you sing these songs. I know Prabhupada one time told Visnujana Maharaja – Visnujana Maharaja was in his room there in L.A., in Prabhupada’s quarters, and he said, “Prabhupada, see, I have the harmonium here, and I have nothing to do; I can sit here and play the harmonium and sing some bhajans” - and Prabhupada said, “No gaps for Maya.” The idea is that at every second you have to be a master engineer – an engineer of your own time. We hear so much about time management in the corporate world; but actually Rupa Goswami is the original acarya of time management. He says, “Do not waste a single moment outside of Krishna consciousness.”
So we have to be very, very diligent – not just when we’re in front of others but on our own private time, when we are alone. What do we do when we’re alone? . . . That’s integrity - what you do when you’re alone. We have to have integrity, even in our own minds. What’s running around in your mind right now? Bob Dylan one time said, “If my thought dreams could be seen, they’d stick my head in a guillotine.” We don’t want to be like that. We want to have minds that could be on the Internet, where everyone could log on and see what’s going on in our minds – and everyone would think, “Wow, what wonderful thoughts he is having” - all the time. You could just have your subtle webcam in there, broadcasting your mind on the Internet 24 hours a day, so everybody could see what you’re thinking about right now. We should be so cured that we could actually have our thoughts webcast all over the world, for thousands to see at every second. That’s the type of purity we should be striving for in Krishna consciousness.
Some devotees ask me, “What do you do when you’re envious of someone, or have some bad feelings towards another devotee?” And I say this: “Worship.” It can happen that if we’re envious that wow, this devotee has such a nice quality that we don’t have – instead of appreciating him, we’re trying to cut him down. In my mind we’re finding faults with him because he makes us look not as good, because he’s better than we are. But actually, instead of doing that, we can just worship that devotee within our mind – think that actually this person is so wonderful; they have this quality that I don’t have – and just appreciate and worship this person within our heart. And you know what happens then? You will then inherit their qualities also. By worshiping someone who has qualities that you do not have, those qualities will come to you. It’s just like the way I’m always worshiping Satyaraja for his writing ability - and somehow or other I’m getting a little writing ability over these years, because I’m always envious in a positive way, worshiping his incredible expertise in the use of words. Somehow or other, by Krishna’s blessing, I’m able to write a little bit now, where I couldn’t before.
So in all ways we have to see how to develop this purity because this is what makes us ecstatic; this is what fills us with knowledge; this is what brings us to the point of realizing our eternal nature as spirit souls; and this is what will make our movement successful. The most important thing, really, is that we have proper relationships amongst each other. You can chant Hare Krishna from now until Doomsday, but if you don’t have proper relationships with the devotees you will always be a nama-aparadha. The most important thing we can do is cultivate proper relationships with the devotees, which means serving them with love. Just serving is not enough. I may serve you and think, “Well, he’s really a creep, but I had to serve him.” That doesn’t work. We have to actually serve the devotees with genuine feelings of love and affection. That’s how Prabhupada got us. He wasn’t mechanically doing what he was doing; he did it with intense affection for us. That’s how Prabhupada captured us.
Just think about it: Go into any city – the downtown part of any city in the U.S.A. – stand there with a clipboard and say, “Do you believe in God?” Many people would say yes. Then say, “Well, if I told you that God is a little blue cowherd boy, that he wears a peacock feather in his hair, and that he runs around in the bushes in the full moon night of the sarat playing his flute, what would you say?” You’d say, “I’m calling the cops - there’s a nut on the street . . .”
So how is it that Prabhupada convinced us that God is a little blue cowherd boy, that he wears a peacock feather in his hair, and that he blows a flute in the full moon night of the sarat season in the bushes on the bank of a river? Because Prabhupada has so much genuine love and affection for us, and that touched our hearts. We were willing to hear whatever he had to say. When he spoke, it was very sound philosophy also; but because Prabhupada’s love and affection for us was so strong, we wanted to hear what Prabhupada had to say. So our preaching will be effective to the extent that we have genuine love and affection for each other and for all living entities. That’s the final verse of Bhaktivinode’s song. He is saying, “When will I give up thoughts of my own comforts and simply think about giving Krishna consciousness to everyone? That’s my only thought now.” That’s the final conclusion of Kabe Ha’be Bolo Se-Dina Amar: “When do I stop thinking about my own comforts and just think about the welfare of all living entities, by giving them Krishna consciousness?”
So this is the kind of purity we have to develop in our hearts: the willingness to do anything and everything to serve Prabhupada’s mission. “My dear Srila Prabhupada, I’m simply an instrument in your hands, and I’m begging you, please guide me in how I can best serve your mission” - this is the mood. “Whatever Prabhupada wants me to do.” (Of course that comes down through our own spiritual master – he is Prabhupada’s representative for us; so are our temple authorities.) So we want to give up all thoughts of personal sense gratification and simply serve the mission.
The nice thing is that Krishna will not neglect your needs if you do that. Prabhupada gives his example, “I gave up my family, and now I have much more affectionate children who are taking care of me.” So if we are in the mood of sacrificing everything, of doing anything and everything to become a pure devotee and to spread Krishna consciousness, then I can guarantee you – Krishna says, “I preserve what they have and I carry what they lack.” We’ve seen that in my own personal life. Krishna has given so much facility. Now I have nothing to do except preach. I don’t have to worry about money – He somehow provides the money I need so I can just preach all over the world. My wife and I as a preaching team, traveling all over the world and doing my internet course – we just do this full-time. We don’t have to worry; somehow Krishna is sending all the money that we need so we can just focus 100% on preaching, 24 hours a day, the Krishna consciousness movement.
Purity works – purity definitely works. Even though I am most impure, just by my endeavor, that I really want to become pure, Krishna is reciprocating with me. Just because I intensely want to become pure, so much reciprocation is coming from Krishna. So we make that our determination, “I must do anything and everything possible to become a pure devotee as soon as possible.” One of my disciples asked me, “Should I desire to become a pure devotee right now?” I said, “Yes – at every second!” - because there will be a moment when you actually achieve pure devotion. You may think, “Well, I’ll just become a little more pure” – but no, we should strive at every moment to become a pure devotee.
Do you know the example of Katvanga Maharaja in the Bhagavatam? He was a very powerful earthly king, and he was called by the demigods. They were having great difficulty in the heavenly kingdom - sometimes the demons take over there. There’s no point in being attracted to going to Svaraloka, because you might get there when the demons are in control. So anyway, the demons were taking over the heavenly kingdom, and the demigods were in great anxiety. They said to Kadbanga Maharaja, “Please help us!” So he came to the heavenly kingdom and fought valiantly, with great energy, great intelligence, and great determination for many, many, many long years. In his great enthusiasm he defeated the demons. The demigods were so grateful. They said to Kadbanga Maharaja, “Anything you want - anything you want, we’ll do - just tell us! What do you want?” And Kadbanga Maharaja said, “Just tell me when I’m going to die.” The demigods, who have the power to see past, present, and future, replied, “O Maharaja, you’re going to die immediately.” And Kadbanga Maharaja said, “Thank you very much,” took shelter of Krishna, and immediately went back to Godhead.
Thus Prabhupada gives us an example of how we can achieve pure devotion within a minute. And there will be one moment in the future when we will achieve pure devotion - that’s a fact. Sooner or later, there will be that moment when we actually finally break free from all the anarthas and achieve pure devotion. So why don’t we hanker for that moment to come as soon as possible? Why don’t we hanker at every second, “My dear Lord, please bless me that all this impurity in my heart can be removed; please bless me that now, at this very minute, I can become Your pure devotee.” Why don’t we hanker like that at every minute? Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare!! Why don’t we chant in that mood?! “Let me achieve pure devotion today while I chant my rounds. Let me break through, finally, after millions of lifetimes of suffering in this hell – let me break through - Krishna, please save me now! I’m tired of being impure – please make me pure!”
So in this way, if we focus on purity, every day will be an ecstatic adventure in expanding our consciousness, and with this sort of focus, our preaching will actually have great impact on people. It will have great impact; it will inspire them to take up Krishna consciousness. If we are inspired at every second to advance ourselves on the path of bhakti, I guarantee you, other people will be enlivened by that and they will also want to do what we’re doing! We just have to be enlivened at every minute to cultivate pure devotion. Then we can make thousands and millions of devotees - that’s a fact. Thousands and millions of devotees. There is the potential that we can see this whole planet become Krishna conscious within our lifetime. There’s only one thing holding us back, and that is our impurity. That’s the problem: we’re holding on to those impurities in our hearts. That is checking the spread of this Krishna consciousness movement. We have to let go of that.
There is an old story that goes like this: There were two sides to this river. On one side was a paradise, with beautiful gardens and flowers and festivals and people singing and dancing. On the other side of the river was a desert, where people were just dying in the desert of thirst. So one man on the desert side - he’s looking across the river; he’s emaciated and practically dead, but he’s looking across the river, and the people on the other side are saying, “Come on, swim across the river! It’s an easy swim; just hop in!” But the man is holding on to a rock - he has his pet rock and he can’t let go of it. That rock is very important to him; he has to hold on to that rock. He says, “I can’t give up this rock! This is my pet rock – I love it! I can’t give it up!” So he’s not able to swim across the river.
Each one of us has our pet rock, or our pet rocks, that we’re holding on to – our anarthas that we just don’t want to let go of. We think it’s some kind of security blanket for us, so we hold on to them foolishly. And because of that we cannot enter into pure devotion. So we have to see what it is that’s holding us up. That’s why we need the association of devotees who are more advanced; this is why we need a spiritual master: because these persons - the senior devotees and the spiritual master - can see the anarthas that are in our hearts and can help us get free from them - help us make that transition to pure devotion.
So anyway, we’ve got a little time left here – does anybody have any questions?
Q1 - So is it advisable just to approach your spiritual master and ask what are my anarthas, how do I get rid of them?
A1 - Yes. Say, “My dear Srila Gurudeva, please tell me, what is holding me back with my progress in Krishna consciousness? Please help me see what my faults are and help me overcome them.” It is very nice to do that, yes. Say, “I fully submit myself to you; please tell what is holding me back from pure devotion, and help me – please bless me so that I can get over that, and guide me in how to get over that.” That’s a very nice mood. The spiritual master would be most enlivened to have a disciple approach him like that. Just be completely surrendered: “I just want to be fully surrendered to serving you as your disciple; please tell me what’s holding me back.” Your guru will be very pleased with you and will shower you with his unlimited mercy if you approached him in that mood. He will be very, very happy with you.
Q2 - Regarding the three things that you mentioned – the mind, our speech, and action – the first thing seems to be very difficult: getting into the mood of getting pure. What steps should we start taking, as of now, to control the mind or just to focus?
A2 - You have to see your husband and your child and yourself in a Krishna conscious way. You have to see who the actual proprietor is . . . we have to see that everything belongs to Krishna. You have to see that everything in your house is there for Krishna’s pleasure. If it’s not, you should get rid of it – go back and do a housecleaning. If there’s something in your house which is not necessary for earning your livelihood (which we need to do) and it’s not helping your Krishna consciousness, just have a garage sale or something. Do a cleansing in your house . . . that’s a very good beginning. See that everything in your house is helping to connect you with Krishna. Of course, these are all details; but you and your husband should have regular spiritual programs in your house. I don’t know what your practice is, but there should be regular kirtan . . . every householder’s home should be a center for Krishna consciousness. Are you having regular programs, inviting people? That’s very good. So you’re both chanting sixteen rounds regularly?
No, eight. Not sixteen.
See, these are details - you can always email me, and I can give you personal advice. I don’t want to make it all public, and make it all embarrassing or too awkward. But I can personally give you instructions on your particular situation, and how you can make it into an atmosphere of pure bhakti. I can do that . . . I’ll give you my email address - I have a card here for anybody who wants it.
We also have an e-course, which we talked about in the previous seminar, that gives you regular guidance. Many people are finding it very helpful; they begin their day by looking at my Thought for the Day. So that’s also helpful. Anybody who wants to be on the e-course can just . . . [give us] your name and email address and we’ll add you to the course. That will give you a chance to get something every day – words of inspiration – and also to reply to the email and ask any questions.
Q3 - Could you comment on this place where Srila Prabhupada says - it’s in the scriptures – that not by conference . . . if one is determined to remain . . . one can become Krishna conscious?
A3 – Can you quote the exact verse?
I can’t – a good part of it is on salvation . . .
. . . I forget the exact wording of that verse – if someone could quote the exact verse then I can comment on the exact verse . . . It’s Prahlada Maharaja’s response to his father . . .
His father . . . wants to gain access to the same power of knowledge through the children . . .
So the point is, only by devotional service . . . there’s no other means of achieving that perfection of existence except through bhakti-yoga. Now it doesn’t mean we can’t have joint conferences on bhakti-yoga, like we’re having now. When he says “not by joint conferences” it doesn’t mean that this is invalid. It means that bhakti must be the center of everything.
Q4 – Maybe I have to be more specific . . . if one feels hopeless about ever being able to come to that stage of even desiring to be a pure devotee, and he’s been unsuccessful in previous attempts, and may have that psyche, that self-defeating -
A4 – This is where Narottama’s statement comes in. If you feel that you’re in the most fallen, hopeless condition, then guess what: you’re in the front of the line. There’s a big queue of people wanting the mercy of Lord Caitanya, and your state of consciousness – “I’ve tried so many times, I’ve failed, it’s just hopeless to me, there’s no way I can ever do it” – puts you at the front of the line. You’re the first one in the line over here at the tent for prasadam. You’re the first one in line for Lord Caitanya’s mercy, because you’ve tried, you think it’s hopeless; you’re saying, “How can I ever do this? I’m so fallen, I’ll never make it - it’s hopeless!” You see? So you ask, “Krishna, therefore, will you please give me your mercy first?”
You have to capitalize on your position. Your position is actually advantageous: you must understand that at this present moment you are in absolutely the most advantageous position to achieve pure devotion. You are in the most advantageous position right now to achieve pure devotional service. You have to learn how to see your present situation in that way. You must have faith in that principle. You may ask, “Well, how do I get the faith?” The answer is, you associate with people who have the faith. It’s called sadhu-sangha.
You find persons who have stronger faith than you do, and associate with them. Serve them with love; inquire from them. This is the system, the Vedic system. By associating with persons who have stronger faith than you do, and appreciating those persons - not being envious of them, but appreciating the strong faith that they have - then that faith will automatically manifest in your heart.
We have a scientific process that will work. Truth works. Krishna consciousness is the Absolute Truth because it works. If it didn’t work it would just be hype - the International Society for Hyping Everyone. But the fact is that for any person who seriously takes up this process of Krishna bhakti – even if they’ve tried for thirty years, and failed again and again and again and again – this process will work if they seriously take it up now. They can say, “I’ve messed around in the past, I didn’t take it seriously enough; now I’m ready to give it full seriousness, absolute full seriousness, at this very moment - I’m willing to do that. I’m prepared to do that, I will do that . . .” If they can take this position, they will break into a new level of Krishna consciousness like they’ve never ever experienced before in their life. I guarantee it. In fact, I’ve been making this offer: Even after all these failed attempts, if you will seriously give it one last try - with all intensity, with all your effort, for six months -and it doesn’t work, I’ll pay you ten thousand dollars cash. Is that a deal?
I trust that you’re a very pure devotee; I mean, I -
Well, I’m struggling to be a pure devotee. Krishna has blessed me that I am enlivened by the struggle to become a pure devotee. I am enlivened very much by the struggle. That’s a fact. I can see how contaminated I am, really – very contaminated. But the struggle to become pure is nectar. I can tell you that. So don’t be afraid of struggling to achieve purity. Just increase the intensity of your struggle. That’s all you have to do. Amp up the volume; put your foot on the accelerator.
What if you’re worn out and tired, and don’t feel you have any fight left in you? Do you pray - get down and pray for the strength, then?
You say, “My dear Lord Krishna, I tried for so many years to become a pure devotee; I’ve lost all hope. I have no enthusiasm, no determination; I’m a hopeless case. And I’m just begging you, please: help this poor, fallen, useless soul who has lost all of his determination to be your devotee. Please, Krishna, I don’t deserve it - I deserve to be kicked a million times in the face for all of my offenses – but please; just give me one more chance, Lord, to be Your devotee. Please, please, please, Krishna, help me in my fallen condition.” Just get down on the floor, in front of Prabhupada’s picture or your Guru Maharaja’s picture - just get on the floor and beg and cry and cry for the mercy until you feel the spiritual energy. It works. When you’re down, get down on the floor and beg for the mercy - and you’ll feel the spiritual energy. You’ll feel the rejuvenation of your spiritual life coming to you. You have to put yourself in a very low position, a humble position; then you’ll feel it.
I can privately consult with you on your situation - I would be happy to do that.
Any other questions?
Q5 - What if you feel insecurity – you know, not as much humility as insecurity that’s so bad. When you don’t love yourself it’s hard to love other people; it can become hard to serve with love when –
You mean it’s hard to serve with love when there’s no reciprocation?
No, when you have a problem with yourself . . .
What is it?
When you’re feeling insecure, and you don’t love yourself. There are moments that sometimes you go through - that I go through, when I don’t love myself. We have to feel humble, we have to feel lower than a worm in stool . . . but sometimes I fall into extreme insecurity, and in those cases it’s difficult to -
A5 – There is a Krishna conscious platform of loving yourself, and it’s a very important platform. This is not a self-hate movement. It’s not – don’t misunderstand. There is a platform of self-love. Prabhupada says that Krishna consciousness is your highest self-interest. So if you really love yourself – and you should; Krishna doesn’t want you to hate yourself – if you really love yourself, then you have to do that which is in your highest self-interest, your real self-interest, and that is to surrender to Krishna. That is true love of yourself. If you really love yourself, then don’t punish yourself anymore. Right now you’re punishing yourself in this material world – for billions of lifetimes, punishing yourself. So now it’s time to love yourself, to reward yourself for who you really are. You’re Krishna’s child!
I know that most of the time, it’s just sometimes I just . . .
Now reward yourself by being Krishna’s child again! Why should I punish myself? Let me reward myself; let me love myself by being who I really am - know who you are and be who you are! Know that you are the eternal servant of Krishna, and now be the eternal servant of Krishna. That is loving yourself. You must not hate yourself by thinking, “I am this body.” That’s hating yourself. Loving yourself means, “I am the eternal servant of Krishna.” That is loving yourself.
Why should you hate yourself? Everyone in this room loves you; why should you hate yourself? Everyone loves her – don’t we all love her? We all love her. So why are you the only one in the whole room who hates yourself? You’re the minority.
It’s not that I hate myself. It’s that all the pure devotees can see into my heart, and they’re seeing all the crap that is there.
What is the point?
[response from another devotee in the audience] That all pure devotees here can see all the anarthas.
We can see how contaminated you are, is that what you’re saying?
If we can love you in spite of all your contamination, then you can love yourself also, in spite of all of your contamination. We’re all contaminated here – you’re in good company.
But it freaks out my ego, and my ego then wants to become offensive. It’s a struggle between my heart and my ego, because my ego is like – urgh! . . .
Now wait a minute – there are two egos. There’s the real ego and there’s the false ego. You have to embrace your real ego and shun your false ego. False ego is, “I am this body, I am a woman, I am white” – that’s your false ego. You have to embrace your real ego: “I am an eternal spiritual being, full of knowledge and full of bliss, part and parcel of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Syamsundara, Krishna.” You have to embrace your real ego. Ego is not wrong. False ego is wrong; real ego is cool. It’s nectarine. Come back to your original, cool, nectarine position of being the eternal servant of Krishna. Is that all right? I can personally guide you also; through the email we can communicate. I’d be glad to help you on an ongoing basis.
Anyone else? Yes -
Q6 - What is the meaning of surrender and . . . ?
A6 - Surrender means that you do whatever pleases Krishna. And your guru also - guru is the representative of Krishna. It means that every thought, every word, and every deed is for the pleasure of Guru and Krishna. You don’t do anything for my own enjoyment. Everything is to please Guru and Krishna: every thought, every word, and every activity. That is surrender. But the secret is this: that’s how you expand your own enjoyment exponentially. Your own enjoyment will expand millions and billions of times when you do that. You do not lose anything by giving up the position of enjoyer. Instead, you expand your own enjoyment unlimitedly – that’s the insider’s secret.
That is where my mind is not compatible with this thought. How can I enjoy when I give up the position of being the enjoyer?
The answer is in Prabhupada’s books: the more you study Prabhupada’s books, the more your mind will become compatible. You have to read Prabhupapa’s teachings again and again. You have to do kirtan, japa – all the activities of sadhana-bhakti will make your mind compatible with the activity of complete surrender to Guru and Krishna.
What does it mean not to be the enjoyer? We are doing the same activities.
‘Enjoyer’ means that you think your enjoyment is the first principle of everything. That’s what it means to ‘be the enjoyer’. That is a hellish nightmare to be in, actually. The real position is to think, “Not how can I enjoy, but how can I give pleasure to my spiritual master and how can I give pleasure to Krishna?” That is the actual position. That is the healthy position.
But we are doing the same activities, right . . . ?
The activities may be different or may be the same, but the consciousness has to be different.
Suppose I’m working . . .
What kind of work do you do?
I’m an engineer. So, I’m getting some salary; how am I going to please my spiritual master? Because I am going to use that for myself . . .
You have to give as much as you can to the service of our movement. You really have to start giving money regularly from your paycheck; otherwise how will you get purified by that work? It may be a small amount, it may be a big amount - whatever you can afford - but you must give something out of that paycheck. With that you will begin to break free of the enjoying spirit – the attitude of “I’m accumulating money for myself.” You must think, “How can I make money for Krishna?” And you can’t just do that in the mind. You actually have to take the money, to write a monthly check for the benefit of our mission - that you have to do. You have to make a sacrifice, even if it means that you have to live more simply.
You have to give your money to support this mission. Otherwise . . . you’re just keeping the money in your own pocket. You have to give part of that money, as much as you can, to support this mission - and that will enliven you like anything. It’s very enlivening to give money to Krishna. As Prabhupada said, it’s following in the steps of Hanuman. Sita is money – the goddess of fortune; and Hanuman is bringing Sita back to Rama. So when you go to work, you have to think, “I have come here to the city of Lanka, to collect Sita and bring her back to Rama.”
Q7 - Our natural position is to be eternally in bliss and knowledge –
So when performing devotional service we may experience bliss, and the tendency that I am experiencing is that I get distracted by that from the service that I’m doing – ooh, that’s such nice bliss; let me relish that bliss – and then immediately it goes away. How do I curb that tendency?
A7 – Whatever nectar you’re getting is to be offered back into the fire of bhakti. Don’t try to take it as sense enjoyment. Whatever nectar you’re getting from doing the devotional service, take that enlivenment, that enjoyment, and just offer it back into the yajna again. And then you’ll get more nectar; then you offer that back into the yajna and you’ll get even more nectar . . . if you just keep offering that nectar back into the yajna, then it becomes insane how much nectar you’ll experience eventually. You may think, yeah, I’m great, I deserve it; I’m an advanced devotee now; I’m relishing the bliss - forget it. You just killed your ecstasy. But keep offering that back into the yajna, the sankirtan yajna – whatever nectar you are tasting, just offer it back, offer it back, offer it back. It comes back a millionfold.
Q8 - You were mentioning how activities like waking up early, attending Mangal Arati, etc. . . . that these are external, but that the real struggle is internal -
They’re all connected.
Could you explain the connection?
A8 - My point is that just going through the external activities – “well, I went to Mangal Arati today, I chanted sixteen rounds” – that’s not enough. That’s why we have the ten offenses. There are Deity offenses also – seva-apara, nama-apara. You have to act in the right consciousness, just like when associating with the devotees. You can be arrogant with the devotees, or you can be in a mood of humble service. We have to do it with the proper quality. That’s why we have the six loving exchanges given by Rupa Goswami. We have to do this with love. That’s actually Krishna’s statement in Bhagavad-gita 10.10: “To those who are constantly devoted and worship me with love, I give the intelligence to come to me.”
So you see, just going through the motions is not enough. You have to do it with love; otherwise you’re not going anywhere! Of course, eventually the motions will bring you along, but how many millions of lifetimes might it take? You may mechanically chant Hare Krishna - but you actually have to learn how to do it with love. That’s why we have Vaisnava association: so we can learn how to love other people. That’s easier. That’s why Vaisnava sangha is the most important thing, actually. We have to learn how to deal with devotees in a very pure and loving way. And that would carry over into everything: our chanting, our Deity worship, and everything else. But that ‘with love’ is the key. The softening of the heart has to be there; otherwise if you do it without love, with a steel-frame heart, you’re not going anywhere, you’re not making advancement. You’re just like a hot-rodder, just burning the road with the tires - vrmm! - not going anywhere. You may be making a big show – a big this, a big that – but burning rubber is all you’re doing. So the key to moving forward is love – bhakti – loving devotion. Bhakti. This is not just yoga; this is bhakti-yoga. This is the yoga of love. Devotional service means to serve in a loving mood. Devotion and love strengthen.
Q9 - Could you explain how you give back to the yajna?
A9 - If you feel some bliss, you think, “I don’t deserve this nectar. I’m such a rascal. I’m tasting so much bliss from doing this, but I don’t really deserve this; Krishna is kindly giving this to me in spite of my being such a sinful rascal.” In this way, you can offer it back into the yajna. If you’re thinking, “I deserve this, I’m so great, I’m so advanced, so sense-controlled; I’m so pure, and that’s why I’m relishing this nectar of bhakti” – forget it. This is going to go away very quickly. If you think, “I don’t deserve this; Krishna just encouraged me to get out of my despicable, fallen, puffed-up consciousness. he’s given me all this nectar to encourage me to give more and more and more devotional service.” That way you can throw it back into the yajna.
Q10 –You were saying earlier how the day will come when all of us achieve that level of pure devotion –
And you were also saying how in order to overcome the envy we feel toward others we should worship them -
The connection I just made was that everybody eventually is going to attain the svarupa-siddhi; it’s just a matter of time – the time in this world is totally illusory. Whether you do it in this lifetime, or the next one, there’s no question of feeling –
A10 – Prabhupada says that the destiny of every living entity is to go back to Godhead – in Teachings of Lord Caitanya Prabhupada said that. So one may say, why don’t just let things go naturally – let nature takes its course, because I’ll eventually become a pure devotee. But actually, until you make the determination to become a pure devotee, you will remain. So why prolong your suffering? We should make our determination to get out now. Actually, it is stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam that you should not take the position of a teacher unless you can deliver your dependents from the cycle of birth and death. So I asked to be in the position of teacher by giving this seminar . . . and you’ve all come to hear me. Here I am taking the role of teacher. So that means that my duty is to speak to you all and to act and manifest my conscience in such a way to do everything I can to make sure that this is your last lifetime in the material world. That’s my duty as I am speaking to you right now. Otherwise, I’m a criminal – I’m a criminal, stealing your time away. It’s my duty when I’m speaking to you in this capacity to do everything I possibly can to help you make sure that this is your last lifetime in the material world. It’s the duty of the spiritual master, the duty of the teacher. Prabhupada even says that if you’re someone’s friend you have to take that responsibility. It doesn’t say that literally in the verse, but Prabhupada expands that in his own purport. Even if you’re someone’s friend you have to see that they are not going to take birth again. Otherwise you’re their enemy; this is the conclusion. We should not be anyone’s enemy. We have to deal with every single person in such a way to facilitate their going back to home, back to Godhead.
Actually time is up; but I can stay here and talk. I’m in no rush . . . anyone who wants to stay, I am with you.
Q11 - You were saying that the only lacking we have is that we are not pure?
A11 – Yes, the only real lacking we have is the impurity.
Q12 – You are driving all over the world. What are your experiences in regard to preaching?
A12 - My experience is that this movement is very vibrant, and all over the world we find devotees who are very enlivened by this process of Krishna consciousness, very eager to spread this to others. We’re seeing that everywhere we go. We are preaching in Finland, in the Netherlands, in Estonia, in Latvia, in Lithuania, in Turkey – everywhere we see there are people who are very eager for spiritual life. They’re just waiting for someone to guide them in how to become a pure devotee of Krishna.
Q13 - What about the nagging doubt that I am going to fall down again soon - the doubt that I am going to fail sooner or later; that I can do well for a while, but I’m going to fail. What about that doubt?
A13 - The only person who can fall down is the person who is not taking shelter. If one takes complete shelter of Krishna, then they are under the protection of the divine energy; there’s no question of falldown. Falldown only comes when we fail to take shelter of Krishna. So it’s a matter of whether you’re willing to humble yourself and realize, “I’m a very fallen soul, and I have to always take shelter of Krishna.” If you are willing to take that position you will never fall down. The perfect example? Prabhupada. When Prabhupada was in Boston, he told us, “I am always praying to Krishna that I will not fall down.” Prabhupada said that. One devotee said that that’s why Prabhupada will never fall down: because he is always praying that he will not fall down. So I can guarantee you, if you will always pray that you will not fall down, you will never fall down. We have to feel that at every second, “I’m in danger of falling down; therefore, Krishna, please protect me and save me from falling down.” That is the mood in which you will never fall down. You must feel that you can fall down at any second. It’s very good to feel that way. If you think, “I can’t fall down” - then you’re probably fallen already. If you feel that you’re in danger of falling down at any second - that you have to just beg Krishna and Prabhupada and your spiritual master to save you from falling down - if you are in that mood, you will never, ever fall down.
Q14 - What should we do when we commit an offense against a devotee and he doesn’t want to forgive us?
A14 - You have to keep trying to get his forgiveness. Keep trying again and again and again. Maybe you didn’t approach him with enough humility, with enough remorse in your heart, and therefore you didn’t get the forgiveness. Actually for all of eternity you should keep trying. You can try your double-best to get his forgiveness. You must never give up trying. Sometimes it happens: we say something we shouldn’t have said, and we feel great remorse in the heart. But now we might say, “I just want to forget that feeling of remorse.” We should always feel remorse. That’s healthy - that’s not hating ourselves. That’s actually loving ourselves. To properly apply the science of bhakti is the greatest love of yourself. So for me to feel remorse for an offense that I made against a devotee , for which he hasn’t forgiven me, and to always be hankering and thinking and scheming of how I can finally get his forgiveness is very nice. You should never give up; you think, “Maybe I can mail him a jar of gulab jamun or something” - FedEx him some gulab jamin. Just be creative. Think of how you can win his smiling glance. At last he will be willing to forget what you did – the horrible, or not-so-horrible, offense you commited. At the same time, on our side, we should be willing to forgive anyone who is sincere. Nonetheless, it is our duty to those who are less advanced than us to train them in what is the proper etiquette. Prabhupada didn’t just say whatever you do is all right. He would say, “No, this is wrong. what you’re doing.” He would scold us if we did something wrong, to train us properly. It’s not that he was holding any grudges against anyone, or not that he was ever even really angry at us. But he showed us that he was angry, to train us.
What if you want to forgive someone and you can’t?
If you want to forgive someone and you’re not able to? Then you have to pray to Krishna, “I want to forgive this person.” You have to see everything in relation with Krishna. Don’t blame that person; they were simply an instrument of your own past karma. If someone dealt with you in a way that was very painful to you, it is simply a reaction that you’re getting for a previous sinful activity that you committed, and you deserve the reaction. So don’t hold it against them if they were the instrument Krishna used to give you your karma. Why should you hold it against them? You deserved it. You deserve much worse, actually. Because you’re chanting Krishna’s name, he minimized the reaction. So you should never hold a grudge.
There is one story, of a king; he had one prime minister, and the prime minister used to say, “Whatever Krishna does is all right.” So one day the king had an accident - he cut his finger off. The prime minister said, “It’s okay, Your Majesty; whatever Krishna does is all right.” And the king got so angry – “I cut off my finger, and you’re saying whatever Krishna does is all right?? In the dungeon with you, you rascal! How dare you say that - I lost my finger, and whatever Krishna does is all right! Hah – in the dungeon with you!”
So the king went off on his normal hunting expedition – the kings used to hunt, to rid the forest of tigers so the sadhus could meditate peacefully – so anyway, while he was in the forest a band of dacoits - Kali worshipers - kidnapped him. They wanted to make him a human sacrifice. So they bathed him, gave him his last dinner, gave him silk clothes; but somehow they had failed to notice . . . finally, as they were getting ready to chop off his head, or whatever their thing was, they saw: “Ah! He’s missing a finger - we can’t offer him!” - and they let him go. So the king went, “Whew! Whatever Krishna does is all right! He just saved my life - but my poor prime minister! He’s there in the dungeon, with a ball and chain, in a very austere condition - let me go and let him out immediately!”
The king went into the dungeon, and the prime minister was just sitting there chanting, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna” and looking all blissful. The king said, “You mean you’re not angry at me?” And the prime minister replied, “No Your Majesty; whatever Krishna does is all right.” He said, “I go with you on all those hunting trips, and I have all my fingers. Whatever Krishna does is all right!”
So we have to see that whatever situation Krishna puts you in, that is His perfect arrangement. Now what you do, that is something else. That’s your nonsense, when you do things that are not in service to Krishna. That’s simply your nonsense, when you have a thought which is not in Krishna’s service, when you say something that is not in Krishna’s service, or when you perform an activity which is not in Krishna’s service. But whatever is coming from the outside to you, that is all Krishna’s mercy upon you. It may come in the form of something that is not very nice. But you have to see everything in relation with Krishna, and then never really hold a grudge against anyone. ‘Don’t hold grudges; they’ll fill your heart with smudges.’ Be very expert at not holding any grudges against anyone. This is a Vaisnava. A Vaisnava never holds any grudge against anyone. A Vaisnava has a pure heart; a Vaisnava loves everyone, equally, whether they be a dog, a cow, a cow-eater - whatever they may be - a dog-eater, a Brahmin. Panditah sama-darsinah. [BG 5.18] Whether someone is your friend or someone is your enemy, a Vaisnava you see equally. Even a pandit sees everyone equally - what to speak of a Vaisnava, who is in a higher position than a pandit.
Q15 - So when somebody goes to ask for forgiveness, and this person won’t forgive him, then he thinks, okay, this person is not much of a devotee, or Vaisnava . . .
A15 - No, you should think, “Actually, it’s that I have been so offensive that Krishna is teaching me a lesson through him. It’s because I have not apologized with enough humility, therefore he’s not forgiven me. Krishna is teaching me a lesson through him; actually I have not developed sufficient humility yet.” Of course, there is such a thing as people who are not properly situated in Krishna consciousness who might not forgive us. We have to understand through the eyes of scripture, and not take things fanatically. We have to see everything through the enlightened vision of Bhagavad-gita and Bhagavatam. There are sometimes devotees who are in the modes of nature. And if that’s the case, we shouldn’t worry about it if they don’t forgive us. But we have to have a proper understanding not based on our own false pride, but on Krishna-conscious realization. When in doubt, always take the humble position – then you’re safe. But as one advances in Krishna consciousness, you may see that here’s a person who is actually not properly situated in Krishna consciousness. For instance, I have godbrothers who criticize me for being a spiritual master. They take it as an offense. Now, I’m not seeking their forgiveness, because I haven’t done anything wrong; they’ve done something wrong, with their ritvik philosophy.
So we have to have proper sastric vision also, to understand that such a person is actually not properly situated. Then if they don’t forgive me, if they’re offended by me, that’s their problem, not mine. That also can happen - that someone is upset with you, and it’s actually their problem, not yours. You have to be serious about Krishna consciousness and then have proper discrimination to know when it was your fault or when it was their fault. That is also there; both things are there. But the safest position is one of taking the humble position. We always lean in that direction. That’s the safe position.
Q16 - What should we do about mental offenses?
A16 – Mental offenses – for instance, that you had a bad thought about someone? I wouldn’t bother them, or tell them “I am mentally offended by you.” [laughter in audience] It’s a laugh, but it’s a serious point also – I didn’t laugh. It’s a serious point. If it’s just in your mind, it’s not actually considered an offense in the Kali Yuga.
Not in the gross sense, but in the mind it is going on . . .
Yes. In the mind, I would simply just follow Bhaktisiddhanta’s direction: Get your good shoe, and a good broomstick - you know? Every morning you beat your mind with a shoe a hundred times, and every evening a hundred times with a broomstick. You tell yourself what a rascal you are, basically, in the real sense. You tell yourself what a rascal you are – asuram-baddham – what a demon you actually are, that you would have these thoughts against a devotee. Even non-devotees, we have to respect. There are jiva-aparadhas that are also mentioned by Bhaktivinode Thakur.
Q17 - As a comment . . . [there is] a prabhu in Montreal – you know those thick elastics the mailman carries? He puts it right on his wrist, and every time he makes a mental offense and doesn’t think about Krishha he snaps himself . . . It’s like, “Hey, what are you doing?” So he pulls the elastic, and he snaps it . . .
A17 - You can be creative, and see what you can do to curb down the bad thoughts. But the easy thing is just to fill your mind up with good thoughts. You have to absorb yourself in krishna-katha – chanting the holy names, reading the philosophy, hearing the pastimes, singing kirtan, listening to tapes – maybe while you’re walking to your classes you have a little I-pod or whatever - listening to nice bhajans; or chanting japa. Are you chanting sixteen rounds regularly? Just see how you can fill up your day with krishna-katha.
I always try to do that.
Have you taken shelter of a spiritual master yet? That will help. Find some senior devotee of whom you can take shelter for guidance, for personal guidance – that will help you. Because then you can reveal your specific problems to them, and they can help you work through those problems.
Q18 - I just have a comment, not really a question. It’s from my personal experience. I’m a very new devotee; I’ve only been practicing for about four years. In the beginning of my devotional life I think I had the wrong conception of humility; I used to feel like I really don’t deserve anything, and I offend everybody, and that I’m a bad person. But then because of the mercy of my spiritual master and some preachers, I realized that actually I was going through the mode of ignorance, and that there’s a difference between being spiritually humble and being in the mode of ignorance. You were talking a lot about giving love to others, and my personal realization is that I could not give love to others because I had not experienced it; I was not open to experience the love of others coming into my life. So one thing that helped me a lot was just treating myself with a lot of tenderness, and on an everyday basis, almost consciously, like sadhana, acknowledging and receiving the love that I was getting through so many different people.
A18 – That’s one of the six loving exchanges: to accept love. We have to accept love and give it -we have to accept also, not just give. We have to learn how to accept the love of the other devotees. That’s very important. We should feel I don’t deserve this, but we also have to accept it. If someone gives us a gift, we have to really appreciate it. Recently when I was in Riga one young devotee wanted to bake a cake. She was a young girl; she wanted to bake a cake. She brought me this beautiful layer cake with decorations and just handed it to me, and I was just [floored]. She put so much love into this - how I could think I deserved this – but still, I had to just accept it, and make her feel really good that I was really accepting this. It was a wonderful gift, and I was completely overwhelmed. She baked this cake for me, and decorated it so beautifully . . . it’s my duty to accept that with a loving feeling . . . not just think ah, I don’t deserve this – not that kind of thing. That would have disappointed her like anything. I remember the picture we saw of Prabhupada this morning, smiling when Janaki has stolen a ticket from him - a big smile – I just remember Prabhupada’s smile. As I was accepting the cake I was meditating on Prabhupada’s big smile, how happy he was having that loving exchange with Janaki. So I just accepted her cake in that mood of Prabhupada’s big, ear-to-ear smile. And she was very enlivened and happy that I accepted the cake in a loving, joyful way. So we have to learn how to accept love when the devotees give it to us. That’s just as important as giving love: totally accepting with an open heart, totally accepting the love they give us. Very important.
It softened my heart. Now, of course, it’s very little for the loving mercy I am now getting in my life. I think what I’m giving back is probably a no more than a mustard seed - it’s nothing – but what I am giving, I can really give it from my heart because I am taking from my heart. I think that tenderness is very important for a person -
It’s called reciprocation. It’s called rasa, or relationship. We have to develop strong relationships with devotees so that we can give them our love, and we can accept their love. It has to be a flowing thing, back and forth. We have to find devotees that we can have that flow of loving relationship with. That will make us very strong and very fixed in Krishna consciousness.
I’m afraid if I go on too long everybody will gradually just kind of filter out. So what I’m going to do is officially end the meeting now, and anyone who wants speak with me personally, I’ll be up here and I can talk with you further. But the meeting is now officially over. We went a half an hour overtime . . . I’m so happy that you’ve come tonight. This is “Spiritual Purity at ISKCON, the Driving Force Behind Our Success” - so now let’s make our grand success by cultivating purity with every thought, every word, and every deed at all times, in all places and all circumstances. Hare Krishna.
Transcribed by Her Grace Labangalatika devi dasi