Imagine that the practice of Krishna Consciousness is like driving on a highway where we gradually get closer and closer to our destination – pure love of Krishna.
[Insert Picture of Highway]
Can you see Krishna? He’s at the end of this road. He’s waving at you!
On each side of the highway there is a ditch. We want to avoid driving into the ditches for an easy ride back to Krishna. But to avoid driving into these ditches we must be able to spot them, so how do they look?
The First Ditch
“…nor should one accept the rulings of devotional service which are more than what he can easily perform. ” [Nectar of Devotion, chapter 7]
Prabhupada explains that if we try to follow more rules than we can easily perform then we are sure to be negligent which is offensive and thus our progress towards pure devotional service is hindered. There is also another danger, namely that we will get frustrated because we are not able to live up to our ideals. Such frustration can make us give up Krishna Consciousness.
So don’t try to do more than you can!
The Second Ditch
“…to maintain material attachments, even after understanding so many instructions on this matter. ” [Nectar of Devotion, chapter 8]
As you have probably already recognized this is the last part of the tenth offense against the Holy Names. It basically says that we should not accept less rules and regulations than we can follow. If we are able to follow a specific standard of devotional service it is an offense to decide to follow a lower standard.
So don’t follow less than you can!
If we are driving in the middle of the night and our lights breaks then we are more likely to drive into one of the ditches even though we know how they look. This breaking of lights might be compared to our distracted mind that, among other things, tries to convince our weak intelligence that we are so spiritually advanced that we can easily follow the highest standard of devotional service or that we are so fallen that we need to follow a lower standard than we actually can. In this situation we need some lights that works. The best lights comes from the bona fide spiritual master:
om ajñāna timirāndhasya
cakṣur unmīlitaṁ yena
tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ
“I was born in the darkest ignorance, and my spiritual master opened my eyes with the torch of knowledge. I offer my respectful obeisances unto him.“
The lights of the spiritual master will keep us on the road so that we can gradually make progress towards our goal.
The idea of neither doing too much nor too little is universal. If we are training for a marathon and start our training by running too long and too fast we can’t train for the next couple of days due to pain. And if we do too little we will not reach the level of strength required to run the marathon. But we do neither too much nor too little our strength will gradually increase to the desired level. In the same way, if we stay between neither too much nor too little in Krishna Consciousness our spiritual strength and love for Krishna will gradually increase.
I wish you a happy and safe ride back to Krishna!