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From faith to determination

“One should engage oneself in the practice of yoga with determination and faith and not be deviated from the path. One should abandon, without exception, all material desires born of mental speculation and thus control all the senses on all sides by the mind.” (Bhagavad Gita 6.24)

Srila Prabhupada defines faith as unflinching trust in something sublime. Generally our faith is founded on things within our sense perception. But Srila Prabhupada clarified on many occasions that ‘sublime’ in spiritual life means beyond the sense perception. If our faith in Krishna consciousness is dependent on some magical feats by a baba or the verdict of the scientists, then if miracles cease or scientists give a contrary declaration, our faith would change. And that only means our spiritual life is based on a very shallow premise. To make serious advancement in our Krishna consciousness, we need to have faith in the sound vibration of scriptures that are beyond the sound, smell, taste and sight of this world. It’s only when our faith is founded on this premise that we can survive the terrible onslaught of cyclonic doubts, suspicion and bewilderment that threatens to blow us away from our relationship with Krishna.

To go back to the spiritual world, we need to first make our commitment to Krishna strong in this material world. And that means having faith in Krishna, Krishna’s representatives and Krishna’s words, that is the scriptures.

To sustain our faith as we are constantly threatened by the various distractions and temptations, we need strong determination. Srila Prabhupada was once asked by a disciple on what to do if we lack determination in spiritual life. Srila Prabhupada replied that without determination, we are simply an animal. Therefore determination is a unique endowment of humans; animals lack the strength of will and discipline to pursue spiritual life. And it behoves an intelligent human to make the best use of this gift of willpower and a sense of purpose that each one of us possess in our lives.

To be one pointed in our focus we can take inspiration from Arjuna, the legendary hero of the epic Mahabharata. Once when teacher Drona was testing his students, he placed a wooden bird on the branch of a tree, and asked his disciples to aim at the eye of the bird. He then asked each of them what they saw as they readied to release the arrow. Duryodhana said he could see the tree and the forest nearby. Others too said they saw the branches, and some even saw the bird. However Arjuna said he could only see the eye of the bird, to which Drona immediately instructed him to shoot. And Arjuna hit the eye of the bird. This is the kind of focus we need to progress in our Krishna consciousness. The world is beset with too many happenings, and there is no dearth of excuses that the mind would list for us to not practise our spiritual lives. But like Arjuna, we need to focus on pleasing Krishna and carrying out guru’s will to serve the Lord and His devotees.

And determination is not new to any of us. We all practise determination in our lives, all the time. But it’s often for different purposes. Someone is determined to earn money, or study or get some position or power in this world. To acquire our material goals, we sacrifice many things.

Now for seeking Krishna’s grace also we give up our lower self, that is driven by our mind and senses and invoke our higher self that is guided by intelligence fixed on the instructions of Krishna and Krishna’s representatives. With this faith and determination, we can certainly make rapid advancement in Krishna consciousness, despite all the allurements and challenges posed by this world of illusion.

 

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