Q. I am a Life Member of ISKCON. I understand that a more materialistic life means a less spiritual one. But I’m not strong enough to follow all of God’s rules (as mentioned in the Gita). I therefore follow a more materialistic life and less of a spiritual life, apart from praying to Lord Krishna almost daily.I want to make money, get married, have a sex life, and eat meat. If I do all these things, does that mean I can never enter God’s kingdom when I die, even though I believe in God’s existence and pray to Him daily?
A. You are correct in saying that material life and spiritual life oppose each other. Fortunately, the power of Krishna consciousness is such that you don’t have to give up your ordinary life and leave for the forest. You can spiritualize your life by connecting it with Krishna. But connecting with Krishna means following His instructions. If we disobey Krishna or his representative, how can we expect to please Him with our prayers? The regulative principles followed by members of ISKCON are traditional rules found in the Vedic scriptures. Although any civilized person should follow them, in modern society they seem like great austerities. Our conditioning and karma make us think we can’t follow them. But if we are sincere in making spiritual progress, we’ll get the resolve to follow them.
Achieving the association of Krishna is no small feat. We shouldn’t think we don’t have to work for it. It takes effort or what we refer to as austerity. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Lord Rishbhadeva tells his sons that human life is meant for austerity because by austerity one can attain unending bliss. Our problem is that we’re not serious about attaining the goal. Materialists are so serious about such things as making millions of dollars or winning Olympic medals that they perform incredible austerities to attain their goals. We have to muster at least a minimum amount of desire if we expect to attain Krishna.
Srila Prabhupäda said that performing sinful activities while trying to advance in spiritual life is like trying to ignite a fire while pouring water on it; it won’t work. What you propose won’t work. You can’t have it both ways. Your problem is one of desire. You have to increase your desire for spiritual life. How can you do that? Regularly chant Hare Krishna, read Srila Prabhupada’s books, associate with devotees, visit the temple, and so on. You are fighting an inner conflict, being pulled in two directions. If you want to be successful, you have to increase your attraction to the pull of Krishna. Sinful life will dampen the power of even the best spiritual practices. Again, you have to have enough determination to give up sinful life. Pray to Krishna for that, not for material things. He can give you strength and determination, as He has for thousands of others.
Most ISKCON devotees came from backgrounds that included sinful acts, but they were able to give them up. It’s not so hard to give up meat-eating, for example. Millions of people who aren’t even spiritually inclined have given up this vicious habit. Don’t think that you can sincerely offer prayers to the Lord while slaughtering his innocent creatures. We suggest you at least give up this bad habit to show Krishna you’re trying.