The One With The Lead Foot

[Shrila Prabhupada]“Shrila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura states that one should not care very much whether he is going to be liberated or not, but he should simply execute the direct order received from the spiritual master. If one sticks to the principle of abiding by the order of the spiritual master, he will always remain in a liberated position.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.20.13 Purport)

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“License and registration please,” the officer asked. Manny was nervous this time. It wasn’t the first time he had been pulled over. In fact, it was becoming a frequent occurrence. But one more violation and he was in serious risk of losing his license. “How will I get to work? Will I be stuck in the house all the time? I can’t lose my license. Please Lord, help me out of this one,” he thought to himself.

After being shown the necessary documents, the officer asked Manny if he knew why he was pulled over. “I’m so sorry officer. I was trying to drive at a decent speed, but suddenly this guy pulled up next to me. He was driving right by my side. It was so annoying that I thought if I passed him, he would leave me alone. I’m sorry.”

[Police car pulled over]“You know what,” said the officer. “I’m going to reward your honesty. Just sit tight, I’ll be back in a second.” Manny felt relieved. Indeed, this time he was telling the truth. He had been trying to drive slower, but the annoying driver that approached to the left of him made him lose his cool. Manny realized that the reason the driver suddenly slowed down was because he detected that there was a traffic policeman ahead. Manny didn’t know, and so he fell into the trap by speeding up.

“Okay, this is the lowest possible ticket I can give you.”

“Thank you so much, officer.”

“I need you to slow down. Don’t do any crazy moves.”

“I won’t. Thank you again.”

Having escaped this time, Manny took it as a sign from above. “I will seriously try to drive slower and safer from now on.” But in fact, what really changed his habits was his wife giving birth to their first daughter a few months later. On the ride home from the hospital, Manny drove extremely carefully. He told one of his friends about it a few days later.

[child in car seat]“I don’t know what came over me, man,” said Manny. “Suddenly I had this desire to protect. I was giving dirty looks to the other drivers on the road who I thought were going too fast.”

“Yeah, that’s bound to happen,” said his friend Jose. “I noticed a similar thing happened to me, except it wasn’t rooted in having a child.”

“Oh yeah? You were driving slower too?”

“I realized the change came about because of the vows I took. You know, the ones relating to my spiritual master.”

Manny didn’t recall immediately, so Jose explained to him how he had given up meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex as part of his service to the guru he accepted to serve for life. He also explained how those regulations helped him in his more important vow of chanting the holy names a fixed number of times on a daily basis.

[japa mala]“So you chant that mantra for sixteen rounds every day,” asked Manny.

“Yeah. It wasn’t easy at first. I try to help others who follow the same path. Basically we try to serve as much as possible. And it’s real service; not just giving some basic help here and there. It’s reawakening the dormant God consciousness in everyone.”

“I see. With the way society’s going these days, that’s the most important service there is. It takes a lot to change behavior. I mean look at me. You remember how fast I used to drive. Not even repeat traffic offenses could fix me. It wasn’t until I had a responsibility to my daughter that it finally hit me.”

“Yeah, so it’s similar with me now,” said Jose. “I feel like I need to do whatever I can to keep serving my guru, who is so dear to Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Whatever it takes to be able to chant the holy names every day, to serve others following the same mission, I accept. And whatever gets in the way of that, I reject. At first I just accepted the principles, without really thinking too much about them. I was attracted to the mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. But slowly I noticed that it made me a better person. I was nicer to the people I met. I didn’t indulge so much in eating and sleeping. I had more energy. I became more responsible overall because I had someone to be responsible for.”

Manny then explained how he had given up so many things since his daughter was born. No more did he spend nights out on the town with his friends. No more did he waste hours in front of the television set doing nothing. He had a fear, however. What would happen when his daughter grew up? What would happen after she left the house as an adult? Who would keep Manny responsible?

“Your concern shows intelligence,” said Jose. “So, devotional service is a fulltime occupation. The good disciple never abandons the service to their guru. This also gives a good way to test whether or not the guru is legitimate. If he gives you something you can do for lifetime after lifetime, something that will always make you happy and clean up your bad habits, you know that he’s on to something. If he simply gives you a secret formula after paying him a few dollars, he’s not a legitimate spiritual master. He should be able to correct your faults and give you a purpose that you’ll never abandon.”

[Shrila Prabhupada]Manny then had to leave, so the conversation drew to an end. He was very eager to hear more, so he made Jose promise that they would meet up again very soon and continue their discussion. As they were parting, Jose said with a smile, “Alright man. See you soon. Drive safe.”

In Closing:

With new responsibility to come,

With bad habits finally done.


For another person now to care,

So to do wrong not to dare.


With service to guru the same,

Who kindly bestows holy name.


Chanting and following regulative principles four,

Removing all bad things, knowing God more.

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