Spiritual Advancement–The Simple Method

Sometimes it appears very difficult to make advancement in Krsna consciousness, and we become impatient. If we expect immediate results and they aren’t forthcoming, we can easily become discouraged. For those of us who are unable to live in a temple (or even near a temple), this is especially true. So what’s the solution?

In November of 1969, while speaking in London’s Conway Hall, Srila Prabhupada stated the following:

“The process is very simple. Just keep a picture of Lord Caitanya with His associates. Lord Caitanya is in the middle, accompanied by His principal associates — Nityananda, Advaita, Gadadhara, and Srivasa. One simply has to keep this picture. One can keep it anywhere. It is not that one has to come to us to see this picture. Anyone can have this picture in his home, chant this Hare Krsna mantra, and thus worship Lord Caitanya. That is the simple method. But who will capture this simple method? Those who have good brains. Without much bother, if one simply keeps a picture of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at home and chants Hare Krsna, then one will realize God. Anyone can adopt this simple method. There is no expenditure, there is no tax, nor is there any need to build a very big church or temple. Anyone, anywhere, can sit down on the road or beneath a tree and chant the Hare Krsna mantra and worship God. Therefore it is a great opportunity.”

In this brief statement, Srila Prabhupada underlines the simplicity and accessibility of Krsna consciousness for everyone. Nothing fancy is required. Srila Prabhupada says here that one simply has to chant Hare Krsna, and keep a picture of Lord Caitanya and His associates (Sri Panca-Tattva) in his or her home. “That is the simple method,” he declares. But who will take to it? “Those who have good brains.”

If we make the effort to understand Srila Prabhupada’s teachings in essence, it becomes obvious that what he is saying is always very practical and straightforward. Anyone in any condition of life can practice devotional service to the Supreme Lord by applying Prabhupada’s instructions to their daily lives. We can begin by hearing the transcendental sound vibration of the Hare Krsna mantra from the lips of Krsna’s pure devotee, Srila Prabhupada. Then we can chant the Hare Krsna mantra: “Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare / Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.” This is the beginning of our devotional lives.

From here, we can gradually read and become familiar with Srila Prabhupada’s books and instructions. If we can’t read, then we can listen to his tapes. It is not required that we must become great scholars or renunciants to advance in Krsna consciousness. In fact, these accoutrements can be obstacles on the spiritual path if we become arrogant or “puffed up” because of them. Lord Caitanya Himself taught that the chanting of Hare Krsna should be performed “in a humble state of mind.” Srila Prabhupada has confimed that sincerity is the essential ingredient in the successful execution of bhakti-yoga:

“Some scholars recommend that knowledge and renunciation are important factors for elevating oneself to devotional service. But actually that is not a fact. Actually, the cultivation of knowledge or renunciation, which are favorable for achieving a footing in Krsna consciousness, may be accepted in the beginning, but ultimately they may also come to be rejected, for devotional service is dependent on nothing other than the sentiment or desire for such service. It requires nothing more than sincerity.” (Nectar of Devotion, Chapter 14)

If we can’t enjoy the association of a temple or temple devotees, Srila Prabhupada has nonetheless requested that we stick to the process which he has revealed to us, regardless of our personal circumstances:

“Whether you live in temple or outside temple, the rules and regulation and the process must be followed. Then you are successful. It doesn’t matter that you have to live in the temple. If he does not agree with other godbrothers, friends, he can live separately. But he must follow the rules and regulation. That is wanted.” (Srila Prabhupada conversation, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 3, 1975)

Quite simply, our home can become our temple and place of worship. After all, Lord Krsna is in everyone’s heart, and He sees everything. So there is no impediment to our spiritual advancement if we are sincere in our efforts and determination. We can design a simple altar at home and honor the above-mentioned picture of Sri Panca-Tattva. In addition, Srila Prabhupada has authorized us to worship his picture as nondifferent from him:

“There is no difference between me and my picture. Therefore we should honor and keep pictures in that spirit. If we throw pictures this way and that way, that is offence. The name and picture are as good as the person in spiritual world. In the material world either picture or person, everything is illusion.” (Srila Prabhupada letter, September 4, 1972)

In this way, we can have the association of the Supreme Lord and His pure devotee wherever we are. Then we can always feel the divine presence in our lives. This is the simple method recommended by Srila Prabhupada.

(Excerpt from The Prabhupada Connection, Editorial Notes #8, by Padmapani das)