1. When it comes to spiritual life, as a sadhaka, I am busy on constant survival mode, trying to chant, read, hear etc. Between this, do I need to spend time to self-introspect? For example, I was listing to a lecture of Jswami. In his lecture he was talking about how lust or desire is the cause of material bondage. Am I supposed to self-introspect myself and change this desire aspect or is this hovering over the mental plane?

    Answer by H.H. Bhakti Vikāśa Swami:

    Yes, everyone is busy, busy, busy. Not enough time to dedicate to devotional service.

    Introspect means to look at oneself, take time to think: Who am I? Where am I going? Am I doing properly? Take time sometime to stop and think that… He said just running, running. [chants fast Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare] Just sometime, just: Am I going properly? Am I actually performing my devotional service in a proper way? Am I dealing with others properly? Am I becoming purified, or are my material desires increasing? So this is self-introspection. Actually, it’s just introspection. There’s no… The word self is redundant in this case.

    Well, certainly to introspect is a mental activity, but it’s not that all mental activities are on the mental platform. The mental platform is when we become stuck in thinking what I want to do instead of employing our intelligence to understand what is best for us to do. 

    So, we often say that someone is on the mental platform. It used to be a common saying in our ISKCON. I don’t hear it so much nowadays. Mental platform means instead of accepting good advice about what is proper for us to do in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we’re just stuck: No, I’ve got to do this. And you can’t discuss because the mind is locked into some material desire. But utilising the mind to understand where I am, where am I going, am I progressing properly, is what I’m doing proper – that is the proper use of the mind.

    uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ

    nātmānam avasādayet

    ātmaiva hy ātmano bandhur

    ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

    (One must deliver himself with the help of his mind, and not degrade himself. The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well.) [Bg. 6.5]

    The mind can be the friend of the living being or the enemy. So it’s not that using the mind is outside of Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It’s essential, practically that’s what Kṛṣṇa consciousness means- sa vai manaḥ kṛṣṇa-padāravindayoḥ – to place the mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. 

    So yes we should take time, we should think, we should constantly consider: Am I… Not constantly, if it’s constantly, then we probably will be on the mental platform. But from time to time we should look and see: Am I leading my life in a way that’s actually conducive to my spiritual advancement? Are my material desires reducing? Am I acting on the platform of ego, or am I actually serving Kṛṣṇa and guru and Vaiṣṇavas? We should think like this. As far as not having enough time, I’ve spoken on this many, many times. We have to make time for spiritual life. Otherwise, what’s the use? Working, working, working, one day have a heart attack, drop dead and go to hell. Then what did we do? What was the use of our life? Even, of course, devotees are locked into this money, money, money. You have to run around all day to get money just so that you can eat. 

    But devotees should, somehow or other, make time for sādhana. Otherwise, we are spoiling our lives, or at least not utilising it to the best of our ability. Like I say, I’ve spoken on this many times, so I won’t elaborate on this more.