“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 7.14)
Friend1: Do you ever get tired of hearing the message?
Friend2: Which one? I do keep getting calls from these people who want to sell me solar energy.
Friend2: There’s not even a person on the other end. They buy up a series of similar phone numbers, too, so it’s not like you can simply block their number.
Friend1: That should be made illegal.
Friend2: One would think.
Friend1: I’m talking about the bhakti message, science of self-realization, in general.
Friend2: What exactly is the message?
Friend1: Take advantage of this human life, which is rare. Follow devotion to God, who is a person. Give up attachment to other things.
Friend2: You don’t think that’s an important message?
Friend1: It’s the most important.
Friend2: What is the problem, then?
Friend1: At first it was great to hear. It opened my eyes. The receptive ears helped me to see things completely differently. The thing is, after a while it gets to be too much. I’m thinking to myself, “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just leave me alone already. Stop bothering me. Don’t pound me over the head with it. I’m doing my best to reform. Give me some space.”
Friend2: The idea is to pass on the same message to others. Help to open their eyes. Wake them up from the slumber of ignorance, which has held sway for too long.
Friend1: I get it, trust me, but here’s one thing to consider. Have you noticed that people who preach so vehemently about a particular subject often are the ones that need the most help?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: Someone tells me over and over not to take drugs. They explain how harmful drugs are for the body. Later on we find out that they are addicted. They don’t follow the message themselves.
Friend2: Hypocrisy, that certainly happens.
Friend1: They like to stand up and show everyone how good they are. They love to lecture others. When you scrutinize them, when the tables are turned, you find out the truth. Is there any carryover to the realm of spirituality?
Friend2: You mean are there any cheaters? Are there any hypocrites? You shouldn’t have to ask.
Friend1: Sure, there is a lot of duplicity, but does that hurt the message at all?
Friend2: Even in the cases you cited, the message does not change. It is always valid to avoid drug and alcohol addiction. There is still a benefit. Maybe a guy pounding you over the head with the message raises some red flags, but that is their problem, not yours.
Friend1: Okay, let’s stick with the red flags. Should we assume that the person who daily talks about the science of self-realization and the need for practicing bhakti-yoga is flawed to a greater degree than someone of the same mindset who doesn’t speak so much?
Friend2: Now I see what you are getting at. There’s no general rule. It could be so, but it could not be, as well. Look at the acharyas of the past, the trend-setters, if you will. They dedicated their whole lives to prachara, to propagating the bhakti culture. Their entire existence was public information. Nothing to hide. That’s why they rose to the stature they did; people couldn’t believe how sinless they remained.
Friend1: Are you saying that it doesn’t matter so much who the message comes from, as long as the message is valid?
Friend2: A valid truth is a valid truth. Sure, the hypocrite hurts the cause. The cheater will drive people away, but that has nothing to do with the message. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura would make the comparison to universities and doctoral degrees. There are many less doctorate holders than there are students. A doctorate is considered the pinnacle, reaching the highest achievement. Does this disproportion mean that the disciplines of chemistry, biology, physics and such are themselves worthless?
Friend1: Of course not.
Friend2: To succeed in bhakti is very difficult, as attachments to the material world are many. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, overcoming the material modes of nature is easy for someone who has His favor, and practicing bhakti-yoga brings exactly that.
When preachers most vehement acting,
That likely something themselves lacking.
Hurting the message sometimes for sure,
But valid still bhakti, of benefits to endure.
Through His holy names singing,
Krishna’s endless favor bringing.
Making success easier much more,
No birth and death, higher purpose for.