Srila Bhakti Sundar Govinda Dev-Goswami Maharaj describes the attitude of a progressive practitioner.
When you feel, “I am not making any progress,” then we can say that you have something. If you have not made any progress, you could not have expressed this. To express that you have nothing shows that you have some property, that you have some understanding of what you are trying to attain. What is Vaishnavism? Sriman Mahaprabhu showed its highest position,
na prema-gandho ’sti darapi me harau
krandami saubhagya-bharam prakasitum
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrita: Madhya-lila, 2.45)
“I do not have even a little bit of Krishna-prema. I have no Krishna-prema, yet sometimes I cry. Why? I cry to show others how much love for Krishna I have. Actually I have no attachment to Krishna.”
Prema means the deepest form of attachment. One who can feel it, who has it, can say, “I have nothing.” That is, he can understand what is what: what is illusion, what is chaos, and what is smoke. One who has knowledge of what is real can say what is smoke and what is chaos. So you must have some knowledge if you can say, “I have nothing. I have made no progress.”
To hear such expressions is good news. Guru Maharaj sometimes told the devotees this.
Everyone will not be perfect. It is the truth. In Bhagavad-gita it is said,
bahunam janmanam ante jnanavan mam prapadyate
vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma sudurlabhah
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 7.19)
“Amongst millions of people it is very rare to find one with Krishna-prema.”
Still, it is necessary to try: to try, and try again. What else is there to do? All other pursuits in the mundane world are meaningless. Everything is nothing here. That is why it is called maya. Maya means ‘no-thing’. Everything we see in the mundane world is illusion.
Illusion is one of Krishna’s powers. Krishna’s power of illusion is called maya. Conditioned souls are attacked by maya, but Krishna also tries to help them with His advice. If we follow that, we must arise from maya.
When someone sees his friend fighting with a dacoit or tiger in a dream, he tries to awaken his friend. Then his friend sees, “Yes. It was a dream. There is no danger.” Krishna’s advice for us, as found in Srimad Bhagavad-gita and other scriptures, is like this.
Everyone must try follow it. There is no other way. Srila Rupa Goswami explained how to try in one of his verses, which I put on Srila Guru Maharaj’s temple.
virachaya mayi dandam dina-bandho dayam va
gatir iha na bhavattah kachid anya mamasti
nipatatu sata-kotir nirmalam va navambhas
tad api kila payodah stuyate chatakena
“The chataka bird waits for rain drops from the clouds. It does not drink any other water. I am waiting like a chataka bird for You to be merciful to me. I will not accept medicine or food or anything from anywhere else. I shall wait for Krishna to be merciful to me; I do not want anything else. Many things may be very valuable, but I do not want them. Both rain and lighting bolts can come from the sky; I shall wait for rain even if there is the danger of lightning. Like a chataka bird, I am looking for only the ecstasy of Krishna’s mercy.”
We shall try in this way. We do not want anything else; we want only the Lord’s mercy.
Birth after birth we are running in this mundane world, and running after illusion. When we have got some sense in this life, we must try to keep ourselves apart from the illusion. That is our only duty now. Still, it is necessary to maintain our mundane life. So we shall do so only for that cause. Why we are living? Why are we alive? For Krishna’s service. That is why we are alive. Otherwise, it is not necessary to live in this world.
yajna-sishtasinah santo muchyante sarva-kilbishaih
bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pachanty atma-karanat
(Srimad Bhagavad-gita: 3.13)
If we do anything for ourselves, those actions will be sins. Only what we do for Krishna will be service and devotion. So we must maintain ourselves for Krishna’s service. We must try to maintain our lives in that way.