Calcutta, West Bengal, India — Friday, July 28th
Sincerity is invincible
[Part III of III] — Don't be discouraged when you inevitably fail — From a talk I gave about the importance of the four regulative principles, to prospective disciples of Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, at the Vaishnava Festival in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in August 2005.
When we take initiation, Srila Gurudeva requests that we follow four regulative principles: no illicit sex, no intoxication, no meat-eating, and no gambling. It is important for us to avoid these four kinds of sinful activities because they are detrimental to our spiritual lives.
Of course, it is difficult to strictly follow these four regulative principles all the time. We understand that. We engage in these sinful acts mostly out of habit, and as we all know, old habits are hard to break.
Most of us have no trouble giving up gambling and meat-eating, but sex and intoxication will not let us go so easily! These insidious vices always lurk in the corners of our minds, waiting to pounce, to drag us back from our vow, to the hedonistic lives that we thought we had given up.
So from time to time we will fail in our attempt to conscientiously follow these four principles, and succumbing to either illicit sex or intoxication, suffer a temporary setback in our sincere efforts to try to become Krishna conscious. Don't be discouraged!
We understand that "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." You will not be kicked out of the Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math just because you fail occasionally. If we kicked out everybody who did not always strictly follow the four regulative principles, we would have nobody left!
We know from experience that at times we will be enthusiastic and enlivened in our daily Krishna conscious lives — able to easily abstain from these four kinds of sinful activities — and at other times, under the spell of maya and the relentless demands of our previous karma, we will find it very difficult to do so.
And that's okay, if we understand that it is our weakness, our failing: "I am trying to be good, I am trying to follow the order of Srila Gurudeva, but I am weak. I pray to you — Guru, Krishna, Vaishnava — that I may have the strength, by your grace, to soon overcome this difficulty and rededicate myself once more. Please don't reject me..."
This kind of prayer, from the heart, will help us so much in our time of trouble if we are honest, if we are sincere. But don't be dishonest! Don't be a hypocrite! Don't think that it is okay to ignore the four regulative principles, that it is okay to engage in all these sinful activities and still be Krishna conscious — because it is not.
And please! — don't spread this misconception that Srila Gurudeva does not care if you follow the four regulative principles, that he only cares if you have love in your heart! Srila Gurudeva will never say anything like that! If you read his books, you will see that this is just the opposite of what Srila Gurudeva says.
Don't lie! Don't contradict Srila Gurudeva's instructions to justify your transgressions! Don't fool yourself! Don't think you can continue to willfully engage in all these sinful activities and still be Krishna conscious — because you can't.
In the Bhagavad Gita (6:40) Krishna says:
na hi kalyana-krt kascid / durgatim tata gacchati
"If you are sincere in your search for Me, you will not be mislead. I will guide you to Me." Beware the implicit warning: "If you are insincere, I will mislead you. If you try to cheat Me, I will cheat you too!"
Sincerity is all we have in our search for Sri Krishna. If we are sincere, Krishna will guide us to His agent, the guru, and the guru will guide us to Krishna — if we follow his instructions. Srila Gurudeva instructs us to follow the four regulative principles. If we want to be successful in our spiritual lives, we must try our best to sincerely follow this order.
And when we are unable to follow the four regulative principles due to our previous karma — due to the particular cloud of misconception that we are laboring under — we can still sincerely repent: "O my Lord, I still want You. I still believe in You. I still believe in everything that Srila Gurudeva says, but now I am so weak. Please forgive me. Please help me to overcome this bad habit of mine..."
This kind of sincere prayer cannot be ignored by Krishna. Krishna is not a stone! He is not a statue, an idol confined to the altar in the temple! He will respond to the sincere prayer of His aspiring devotees, because that is His promise in Bhagavad Gita: "Sincerity will bring you to Me. Sincerity is invincible!"
So try to be sincere. Be honest with yourself and with Srila Gurudeva. If you are not prepared to follow Srila Gurudeva's instructions — if you are not prepared to follow the rules and regulations — then don't take initiation! Don't make the connection — because there is no connection if you do not have faith in Srila Gurudeva and his instructions.
I will stop here, because those of you who are going to get initiated this morning should get ready for the ceremony...
For what it is worth...
In times of difficulty with my own spiritual life, when my faith is weak and my future is dark, I look for solace and inspiration in the words of the saints — Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj, and Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj — who "stand like lighthouses in the infinite ocean, to guide us to the land of faith..."
—From Search For Sri Krishna—
When I feel particularly hopeless, depressed by my constant failures and pessimistic about my Krishna conscious future, I hurry to Chapter Nine of Search For Sri Krishna—Reality the Beautiful, where Srila Bhakti Rakshak Sridhar Maharaj offers so much hope to the hopeless:
We know that the connection with the present enjoying mood brings a painful reaction. We can realize that, but we cannot leave it behind. We cannot cut off the connection completely in the stage of sadhana, spiritual practice. Still, we have no other alternative. Our affinity for the positive truth should be increased more and more, and gradually our affinity for our paraphernalia and obligations will all disappear.
Although repeatedly we may not be successful, still we will be unable to give up the idea. We will attempt again and again to make progress towards the truth, and when we are unsuccessful, our heart will ache to think that we are repeatedly being defeated by the enemies who are all around us.
But the fire of Krishna consciousness is there, and that fire is not to be quenched. It is a spark of eternal truth. So, the fire will continue, and the day will come when the enemies that are surrounding us will have to retire once and for all. One day we will find that Krishna has gradually captured our whole heart, and the others have retired forever; they are no longer present to trouble us in our mental circle.
We will find that those unwanted things were like mushrooms: they came out from our mental soil, and now they have all gone and died. They have all gone away, and Krishna alone is in the heart. At that time, the heart is only full of Krishna, full of the Krishna conception.
—From Golden Reflections—
Only the lazy are undisturbed, Srila Govinda Maharaj says in one of my favorite passages from Golden Reflections. Challenges are a symptom of progress because they test our sincerity and determination to serve:
In our practicing life some disturbance must always come, but we don't care for that. One who tries to serve must receive some disturbance in this mundane world.
One who does not try to serve will not be disturbed: he will remain alone, chanting on his beads, without trying to exert any effort to serve. Thus he will remain without disturbance — and without progress!
But one who takes to the service-life must receive disturbances! That can also be one kind of good symptom. If a sportsman runs but does not feel any pain in his legs, that kind of running is not sufficient for him. It means that he is not training hard enough; he will not win a race like that.
With a relaxed mood, service is not possible for the beginners. Service is always difficult, and those who can do that must be benefited.
—From Bhagavad Gita As It Is—
Over twenty years ago, Goswami Maharaj showed me this purport to verse 3:31 in Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaj's Bhagavad Gita — As It Is, to encourage me to persevere in times of adversity:
But an ordinary man with firm faith in the eternal instructions of the Lord — even though unable to execute such orders — becomes liberated from the bondage of the law of karma.
In the beginning of Krishna consciousness one may not fully discharge the injunctions of the Lord, but because one is not resentful of this principle and works sincerely, without consideration of defeat and hopelessness, he will surely be promoted to the stage of pure Krishna consciousness.
Layout by iMonk — July 28th, 2006.