04.36 – Are we blaming the sinking of the boat on gravity?
“I succumbed to immoral indulgences because my material desires were too strong.” Sometimes we may thus rationalize our fall from devotional standards. This justification is fallacious, like the explanation that the boat sank because gravity was too strong.
When we start practicing devotional service, we metaphorically board a boat for going to Krishna’s eternal abode. Just as gravity is ubiquitous, so are material desires. Just as physical boats are designed to float in spite of gravity, the boat of devotional service is designed to float in spite of the gravity force of material desires.
Of course, some of us may have deep-rooted material conditionings and so may feel strongly dragged down by material desires. But the Bhagavad-gita (4.36) assures that the strength of our past conditioning doesn’t matter if we board the boat of spiritual knowledge that culminates in devotional service; the boat is competent to take us across the ocean of material existence.
A normal boat may sink because of either the boatperson’s mistakes or factors beyond the boatperson’s control like stormy waves. When we board the special boat of devotional service, Krishna can take care of all factors beyond our control. But we alone have to protect ourselves from our mistakes. If we fall from our devotional standards, the cause is not the gravity force of material desires but our own carelessness. Fortunately, the boat of devotional service is transcendental and indestructible; we can always re-board it and re-commence our spiritual practices.
When we understand these spiritual dynamics, we will no longer resort to fallacious rationalizations. Instead, we will become confident and cautious: confident about the capability of the boat and the competence of Krishna’s protection, and cautious about avoiding our own errors. This combination of confidence and caution will ensure our safe journey to Krishna.