“The material contamination is so strong that even a yogi fully engaged in the service of the Lord sometimes becomes ensnared; but Krishna consciousness is so strong that such an occasional falldown is at once rectified. Therefore the process of devotional service is always a success.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.30 Purport)
Friend1: You ever have those days where you just don’t like people?
Friend2: What do you mean? Like when I’m down on the world?
Friend1: Yeah, where you think everyone is bad, where you start to think negatively about a person before knowing them. Instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, you first assume that they are not a good person.
Friend2: I think everyone has those thoughts in their head from time to time.
Friend1: Well, I’m having one of those days where it’s just the opposite.
Friend2: Really? That sounds too interesting to pass over. Please do elaborate. Rarely do we think that everyone is good at first.
Friend1: I think I’m right about this one, though. I just got back from a cultural program where kids put on a little play.
Friend2: Oh that’s nice. How was it?
Friend1: That’s the thing. It wasn’t good at all. It was staggered, late, and obviously not well-rehearsed. I was wondering to myself why they wasted everyone’s time. It’s a small group, so everyone knows each other.
Friend2: This is that program you go to every week? The one held in the small room?
Friend1: Yeah. So you know the scene already. The play wasn’t performed on a real stage. They just decided it would be a neat thing to do. The kids were excited about it. The parents seemed to be as well. More than one person had their phone out to record it.
Friend2: But you didn’t like it?
Friend1: I thought it was terrible. The narrator had to describe what was going on. The few lines the children had they didn’t remember. The narrator had to whisper in their ear every few seconds. All one of the kids had to do was come up on stage and sit down in a particular spot. He couldn’t even do that. He ran to his mother’s lap instead. It was kind of funny.
Friend2: You realize that you’re a horrible person, right?
Friend1: No, I’m not. Stop it. Okay, maybe I am, but I’m just being honest with you.
Friend2: So how did this experience make you realize that people are good? And how can everyone be so good when you are so bad?
Friend1: Of course I’m excluding myself. As you can tell, I didn’t think the play was very good. I thought it was a waste of time, actually. They could have put on a video instead. Anyway, the reception kind of surprised me. Everyone said positive things. They encouraged the kids, who then promised to put on a new play every week.
Friend2: Did you decide to speak up and voice your displeasure?
Friend1: No chance. It amazed me, however. There’s no way it was a good play. Yet the people said so many nice things. It means that people really are nice. You have your bad apples here and there, for sure. They get all the attention on the news, but deep down people want to say and do nice things. I think it’s inherent in them.
Friend2: You know I had a similar experience.
Friend1: Yeah? You saw an awful play too?
Friend2: No [laughing], but it did involve a performance in front of people. One time my boss got invited to this small conference that one of our clients was hosting. They invited all of their vendors to come and give a presentation about something interesting they were doing. At the last second my boss bails and tells me to go in his place.
Friend1: Oh no.
Friend2: I know, right? I’m not good at speaking in public. I never do it in fact. I couldn’t refuse, so I ended up going to this thing. Without practicing at all, I got up and showed some of the IT related stuff that we were doing. I was so nervous that I barely remember anything. I just kept pointing to stuff on the screen and tried to explain them the best I could. I was so relieved when it was over.
Friend1: Then what happened? What was the reception?
Friend2: It was one hundred percent positive. The other person from the company that accompanied me on the trip said, “Nice job,” as soon as I sat down. I should have suspected something right then. Everyone clapped a lot when it was over. Then later that night we had a little social gathering, a mixer of sorts. People were coming up to me asking me about different points from the presentation. I was really touched by the whole thing. I think they could tell that presenting wasn’t my expertise. They were so nice about everything. That experience stayed with me.
Friend1: Wow. That’s pretty cool.
Friend2: It makes me think that if man is this good on the inside, how forgiving must the Supreme Lord be? He must forgive everyone’s offenses if they are sincere in their attempts to reach Him.
Friend1: Isn’t there a verse in the Bhagavad-gita about that?
Friend2: Yes [Bg 9.30]. It says that if a person on the path of devotional service accidentally commits a grievous mistake, they don’t lose their progress. They continue on.
Friend1: That makes sense if you think about it.
Friend2: For sure. Obviously the cheaters will take advantage of that verse and use it as license to commit atrocity after atrocity, but that doesn’t take away from the true meaning. God is the most forgiving. If He sees that we are genuinely interested in finding Him and staying connected with Him, He will give us every encouragement. After all, what can we really do?
Friend1: We’re like those kids putting on that play!
Friend2: Yeah, with even less ability. We don’t know how to do anything, and yet we’re still brimming with false pride. If we do something as simple as offer a little water to Krishna, He gladly accepts it. He is the kindest person. The goodness we see in people comes from Krishna. So in one sense what you’re feeling today pays a high compliment to the speaker of the Gita.
Friend1: I didn’t think of it that way, but you have a point.
Friend2: We have no ability to please Him adequately, but He doesn’t mind. Sincerity is what He looks for. He strengthens our determination when He sees us always chanting His names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
From desire to praise understood,
That all souls inherently good.
From Krishna comes this trait,
Who to overlook honest mistake.
Of those in devotion trying,
With sincere effort applying.
As person the most forgiving,
Protection to devotees giving.