“Although the Lord was present in Vaikuntha, He was present also in the heart of the brahmana when he was meditating on the worshiping process. Thus, we can understand that things offered by the devotees even in meditation are accepted by the Lord, and they help one achieve the desired result.” (The Nectar of Devotion, Ch 10)
“Do you know people who buy a ton of books but never read them? It is not on purpose. They have every intention to flip through the pages, but for whatever reason they procrastinate. The books take up space on the shelves, and visitors to the home might be impressed with the collection, but there is nothing beyond that.
“Do you know people who want to grow? They want to become better people. They seek self-improvement. Yet they refuse to accept any pain. They can’t be bothered to sacrifice in order for the change to manifest.
“Do you know people who want to be happy but never do anything about it? They admit to unhappiness in the present state. They are open to something different. They are willing to look, but not really. They don’t move from where they are.
“I ask these questions because they relate to spiritual life in the case of unfulfilled dreams. What if someone wants to do so much for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord but is never able to take the first step? What if they get overwhelmed by the size of the project? They think it will be too much to purify consciousness prior to the end of this lifetime.
“Are the intentions enough? They say that intention is nothing without action and action is nothing without intention. What if I really want the connection in yoga but never take the necessary steps?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gives the example of the brahmana offering sweet rice to God within meditation. The brahmana touches the rice to ensure proper temperature and ends up getting burned in the process. He is surprised to later notice that his finger is burned in real life, though everything else was solely in contemplation.
The reason for the reaction is that bhakti life is equivalent with the object of service. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Shri Krishna, is identical to the devotion offered to Him. There is no difference between God and His servant, in this regard. The distinction is merely in roles. One is the object of service and the other the person offering the service.
If the intentions are noble, then success is possible even without direct action. At the most basic level, a person routinely chants the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. They remember the lotus-like face of the Almighty, and they desperately seek the vision of His enchanting smile, while He stands upright and takes enjoyment from His eternal consort, who is by His side.
If the chanting cannot be done out loud, if there is a physical obstruction or responsibility interfering with the routine, then at least the names can be remembered. They can be repeated within the mind. If I cannot visit a temple due to the restrictions of the oppressive local government, I can still worship through contemplation.
This is not to say that I should settle for the theoretical. The practical application, with dedicated work, karma, will help to make the potential of a purified consciousness a reality. The most elevated souls are known to follow the rules and regulations in the strictest sense, to both set a good example and maintain a barrier of protection from the world of illusion attempting to bring them down.
A little effort goes a long way. As soon as a person steps foot in the bhakti path, success is guaranteed. This is because Bhagavan helps them. In material life, nature, other living entities, and forces from within work to thwart any temporary gains, leading to sadness and despair over loss. The Supreme Lord is the controller of maya, and so His devotees are under the protection of a higher force.
Of intentions noble and good,
But difficulties understood.
That prevented by some force,
Obstructed in proper course.
Not that automatically to defeat,
Since Krishna helping to complete.
Like with brahmana sweet rice in mind,
Who later a warm touch to find.