Category Archives: Bad Habits

Avoiding intoxication

Q. Why do you avoid smoking or drinking coffee, tea or alcohol?

A. Caffeine, nicotine, alcohol—to varying degrees these are all intoxicants. That is, they all have a toxic effect on the body. Devotees of Krishna eat and drink only things that can first be offered to Him, and in the scriptures He requests pure, nutritious food and beverages.

By avoiding caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and similar substances devotees keep their minds clear for concentrating on spiritual goals.

Avoiding meat

Q. Why do you avoid meat?

A. The most important reason why we must refrain  from eating meat is: Krishna’s instruction to us in the Ninth Chapter of the Bhagavad-gita. He requests us to offer Him everything we do, including our eating. He asks us to offer Him with love and devotion, “a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water.” Because Krishna doesn’t ask for meat products, we don’t offer Him any. Since the true aim of life is to please God and re-establish our love for Him, we don’t want to displease Him. The Gita’s third chapter gives the process of purifying our lives or making them pleasing to God.

Krishna is very merciful. He understands our need for material things. Therefore, He created a way for us to offer or sacrifice the things of the world for a spiritual purpose. In that way we can fulfill our desires and needs for material things and not incur karmic reactions. Krishna says that if we offer our food to Him we become free from sinful reactions. The idea behind “offering” something to God is that everything actually belongs to Him. If we don’t acknowledge that, we’re subject to a “fine,” or karmic reactions. This is just like taking advantage of gas, water, electricity, and so on, in your home. You can use these only if you’re willing to pay for them. Besides the spiritual consideration, a vegetarian diet is natural (humans have vegetarian digestive systems) and compassionate. It brings economic benefits both individually and collectively, and it is beneficial to one’s health and to the environment.

Cultivating the Mode of Goodness

Q. How can I do my duties if everything is predestined? I want to do them and I want to follow the teachings of Bhagavan Shri Krishna, but circumstances prevailing at certain times sometimes push me to take any optional decision which ultimately proves to be disastrous.

A.  It is the mode of passion that forces us to take up a course of action that opposes our deepest convictions. Therefore, we must carefully cultivate a live centered in goodness. Bhagavad-gita teaches us so clearly what will help us remain centered in a life of goodness. However, because we have entangled ourselves so much in this material condition, it is very perplexing how to make the right decisions, even if we learn about the Lord’s teachings. Therefore, it is essential that we need to take guidance from advanced devotees, ultimately taking shelter of a bona fide guru, who can help us progressively align ourselves with the Lord’s instructions and not commit blunders, which will only entangle us further


Q. If someone say’s even Hitler was vegetarian but he created so much havoc. How can one support the argument that vegetarian food results in pleasant thoughts.

A. You have asked a question about Hitler’s vegetarianism, yet obviously he did not `have pleasant thoughts’. Certainly one can do one thing that induces the quality of goodness, and fifty other things that induce ignorance and passion. What will prevail, or which mode is likely to predominate? Fifty to one, ignorance and passion will prevail. Vegetarianism is not everything in determining disposition, in other words.

Transforming Lust into Love

Q. How to transform lust in to love of godhead?

A. Transforming mundane lust to love of Godhead is done by practicing sadhana bhakti or this process of Krishna consciousness. This is explained fully by Lord Krishna in the latter part of the 3rd Chapter of the Bhagavada Gita. Srila Prabhupada’s purports there give us the sum and substance of how to successfully bring about this transformation. Please read them carefully.

Sinful Thoughts

Q. How can I stop sinful thoughts occuring in my mind?

A. You can stop sinful thoughts by loudly chanting the Holy Name of God, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Also it is useful to engage the mind with ideas of how to benefit people instead of ideas of how to exploit them. The best benefit you can offer anyone is to engage them somehow in Krishna’s service.

Why Animal Sacrifice?

Q. If the Lord dislikes killing, why are animal sacrifices to God found in the scriptures?

A. Although animal sacrifice to God is mentioned in the scriptures, it is ultimately forbidden there. Sometimes the scriptures recommend animal sacrifice for meat-eaters who can’t give up their habit all at once. They can offer the animal in sacrifice and then eat it, gradually becoming free of the desire to eat meat.

Fortunately, today we can perform the sacrifice of chanting Hare Krishna and eating delicious vegetarian food offered to Krishna .That will quickly purify us and free us from the base desire to eat meat. There’s no good reason for anyone to kill animals today.

Overcoming Fault Finding Tendency

Q. I have a “natural” tendancy to be very critical and hence find mistakes/faults in people. Most of the time, I find fault with people at the mental level and not necessarily express it. This habit also extends to devotees. I feel and know I am not supposed to do this. But, like I said, this has become a habit and I am finding it hard to relinquish it.

In this whole process, I know I am wrong and hence I am always upset with my behavior (but this happens as a reflex action and not able to control my mind).

Please advise me as to what I should do and how I should stop this habit of mine! I feel this will hamper my devotional process and that Guru and Krishna will not be happy with me.

A. There is a very simple and sure solution recommended to overcome fault-finding tendency — deliberately cultivate the opposite habit! Search out and heartily appreciate the genuine good qualities in others, particularly in relation to how these qualities are the gift of Guru and Krishna, and are to be used in their service.

You can begin by making a very deliberate & conscious effort, as a daily exercise, of acknowledging and appreciating good qualities in devotees and whenever circumstances allow, verbally expressing such appreciation and praise. Even better are opportunities to offer heartfelt service to devotees in a humble mood and while offering such service doing so as a meditation and expression of appreciation of specific good qualities you find in them – such genuine service to vaishnavas can soften the heart and purge all critical mentality. You can also seek out the association of those who themselves have such a quality of genuine appreciation for others and serve in their company.

As you practice appreciating others, rather than arbitrarily praising some independent traits, it would be much beneficial to try to identify in what way Krishna’s descending mercy is flowing into & transforming these devotees’ lives and how they are making sincere efforts according to their capacity to take shelter of Krishna and His devotees. It is by this one good quality — “krsna-eka-sharana” – that a devotee in time develops all desirable qualities, whereas it is concluded that a non-devotee has no good qualities whatsoever, because he is hovering on the mental plane. (Cf BG 1.28 purport)

Ultimately, we are interested neither in criticizing so-called bad qualities nor in praising mundane good qualities. Krishna decorates His faithful devotees with transcendental good qualities and by appreciating His devotees we are actually praising the manifestation of His mercy. You will find that even if there may be some factual, minor discrepancies in devotees, these become insignificant in comparison to the more significant factor of how their original nature is unfolding in relationship with Krishna, just like the black spots on the moon become insignificant in comparison to the flood of cooling illumination it provides.

Another very helpful meditation you can cultivate is to learn to see through the eyes of scriptures what the praiseworthy qualities in a devotee are. You can repeatedly study relevant sections from the Bhagavad-Gita or Srimad Bhagavatam where Krishna glorifies those engaged in His devotional service and how very dear they are to Him. E.g see BG 7.16-18, 9.14,15,22, 9.29-34. By regularly meditating on these passages, we can cultivate very deep respect and appreciation for the actual position of devotees beyond the external, circumstantial and temporary characteristics that we generally tend to focus on and instead appreciate their essential characteristic of taking shelter in Krishna.

By developing this spiritual vision, it can then also be extended to those who are not devotees; rather than being disturbed by their faults, we can learn to see the root cause of their difficulties viz. their disconnection from God and thus develop compassion for them.

Moreover, remind yourself of the fact that devotional service rendered sincerely is *SO* powerful that it can wipe out all discrepancies, in us and in others.

The process of devotional service is very powerful and by adopting the right means and applying oneself to them, lifetimes of habits and conditioning can be easily overcome. Have trust in this fact and with enthusiasm take up these positive steps. When we are actively cultivating the positive, there is no room for the negative; and the converse is also true! You are recognizing what is wrong and why it is wrong and you also feel genuine regret, but now do not dwell on it and let yourself be defeated by negative thoughts of frustration or anger towards yourself or how you are displeasing Guru and Krishna. Instead take up the positive and liberating process of rectification — this will be most pleasing to them and attract their descending mercy which will further fill your heart with deeper appreciation of the glories of vaishnavas

Overcoming bad habits-Dealing with Loss

Q. How does one deal with losing one’s job? I was a heavy drinker and have found great comfort in Krishna consciousness. I have started drinking because the pain and anxiety are so great. How do I deal with this?

A. The best remedy is to increase your absorption in Krishna consciousness. Chant more, read more, and if possible, associate with devotees. Many of our habits come from association. If you had friendships with devotees, you would be much less inclined to look for solace in a bottle. Besides these spiritual solutions, read literature or attend meetings that will convince you that even on a material level, drinking will only make things worse.

Looking for Hope…!

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.