As we come into Krishna consciousness then many a times we may get lost in the philosophy itself. The mind too likes newer subjects and intellect is also satisfied by gaining deeper understanding. However we should be careful not to feel satisfied remaining at these levels. Most of us do understand that our real position in the material world is not unlike that of a criminal put in a prison for reform. Criminals can also, rather they do, have high level of mental and intellectual capabilities!
The living entities who come in contact with the material world are meant to be corrected. All the living entities within this material world have revolted against the service of the Lord, and therefore they remain within this material world as ever conditioned, nitya-baddha, taking birth again and again.
Old habits die hard!
The only way to permanently change the criminal habit is to change the heart of the criminal. As you well know, many thieves are arrested numerous times and put into jail. Although they know that if they commit theft they will go to jail, still they are forced to steal because of their unclean hearts. Therefore without cleansing the heart of the criminal, you cannot stop crime simply by more stringent law enforcement. The thief and the murderer already know the law, yet they still commit violent crimes, due to their unclean hearts. So our process is to cleanse the heart. Then all the troubles of this material world will be solved.
(SSR chapter 6)
We may be surprised to know that the whole process of ‘sadhna bhakti’ is to change our heart!
The whole process of spiritual culture is aimed at changing the heart of the living being in the matter of his eternal relation with the Supreme Lord as subordinate servant, which is his eternal constitutional position.
It is expected by all means that by discharging regulated devotional service one must manifest the change of heart.
What exactly we mean by ‘change of heart’?
Change of heart means that my ‘Thinking, feeling and willing’ has changed. Which means what all I think, what is my reaction to various every day situations or circumstances and finally my actions have changed. It does not mean that we have simply learnt the art of what not to speak, especially when we are among the devotees, but inside our heart reactions to their behavior remains same. It means not just externals (my dress, a new name, my eating habits, my wake up time, etc. ) but I have changed, or changing, internally as well.
So what if change of heart has still not happened?
If there is no such change, the heart must be considered steel-framed, for it is not melted even when there is chanting of the holy name of the Lord.
So philosophy has its place but as an aspiring devotee we should be more interested in the culture not merely philosophy. And what is culture? Philosophy lived is culture. In simple words it means that we intelligently, under the shelter of a devotee not my own mind, applying whatever we are reading in Bhagavad Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam, etc., or whatever we are hearing (from a right source!). Without contemplation and then application all of it remains mere knowledge and will not result in any spiritual realisation. Realisation does not mean mere understanding rather it means they have entered into my day to day life.
What are the symptoms of change of heart ?
So with the progress of devotional service, the reaction of change in the heart is exhibited by gradual detachment from the sense of material enjoyment by a false sense of lording it over the world and an increase in the attitude of rendering loving service to the Lord.
How do I change my stone like heart ?
One who directly associates with the Supreme Lord by hearing of His activities cleanses the dirt from his mind and very soon comes to Kåñëa consciousness. Süta Gosvämé confirms this in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.17):
çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù puëya-çravaëa-kértanaù
hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti suhåt-satäm
The Supreme Lord within everyone’s heart becomes very pleased when a person hears narrations of His activities, and He personally cleanses the dirt from the mind of the listener. Hådy antaù-stho hy abhadräëi vidhunoti: He washes off all dirt from the mind. Material existence is caused by dirty things within the mind. If one can cleanse his mind, he immediately comes to his original position of Kåñëa consciousness, and thus his life becomes successful.Therefore all the great saints in the devotional line very strongly recommend the process of hearing.
Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu introduced the congregational chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mantra to give everyone a chance to hear Kåñëa’s holy name, for simply by hearing Hare Kåñëa, Hare Kåñëa, Kåñëa Kåñëa, Hare Hare/ Hare Räma, Hare Räma, Räma Räma, Hare Hare, one becomes purified (ceto-darpaëa-märjanam [Cc. Antya 20.12]). Therefore our Kåñëa consciousness movement is chiefly engaged in chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra all over the world.
As stated in Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.2.18):
nañöa-präyeñv abhadreñu nityaà bhägavata-sevayä
bhagavaty uttama-çloke bhaktir bhavati naiñöhiké
“By regularly hearing the Bhägavatam and rendering service unto the pure devotee, all that is troublesome to the heart is practically destroyed, and loving service unto the glorious Lord, who is praised with transcendental songs, is established as an irrevocable fact.” In this way, simply by hearing of the powerful activities of the Lord, the devotee’s heart becomes almost completely cleansed of material contamination, and thus his original position as an eternal servant who is part and parcel of the Lord becomes manifest.
There are two kinds of çruti, or scripture. One is spoken by the Lord, and the other is spoken about the Lord and His devotees. Bhagavad-gétä is the former and Çrémad-Bhägavatam the latter. One must hear these scriptures repeatedly from reliable sources in order to become fixed in serious devotional service. Through engagement in such devotional service, one becomes freed from the contamination of mäyä. It is stated in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam that hearing about the Supreme Personality of Godhead cleanses the heart of all contamination caused by the influence of the three modes of material nature. By continuous, regular hearing, the effects of the contamination of lust and greed to enjoy or lord it over material nature diminish, and when lust and greed diminish, one then becomes situated in the mode of goodness. This is the stage of Brahman realization, or spiritual realization. In this way one becomes fixed on the transcendental platform. Remaining fixed on the transcendental platform is liberation from material entanglement.
Can my heart change just by hearing?
Çåëvatäà sva-kathäù kåñëaù. So we don’t say that “You change your profession, you change your position or occupation,” no. Please come and hear. Please… If you don’t chant, please hear. That hearing process also will cure you. Çravaëam kértanam. So people should come to our temple and hear this chanting, this… We are not taxing. We are not asking any… If you give some contribution, there is temple and management, there is expenditure, heavy expenditure, in this country. If you so kind… It is very kind of you. Even if you do not pay, you don’t like, please come. Please come and hear. Please bring your friends if you are really friend. So it is very nice thing. Sthäne sthitaù çruti-gatäà tanu-väì-manobhir. You remain what you are. We don’t say that you change, but you hear.
(Room conversation, 16th July 1968, Montreal)
What are the chances of success for a fallen soul like myself?
All the great äcäryas strongly recommend that people be given a chance to hear about the Supreme Lord. Then success is assured. The more we cleanse the dirt of material attachment from our hearts, the more we will be attracted by Kåñëa’s name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and activities. This is the sum and substance of the Kåñëa consciousness movement.
We must always remember that hearing and chanting are the basic principles of discharging devotional duties, and if they are properly performed there will follow the reactional ecstasy with signs of tears in the eyes and standing of the hairs on the body. These are natural consequences and are the preliminary symptoms of the bhäva stage, which occurs before one reaches the perfectional stage of prema, love of Godhead.
End Result : A stone like heart transforms into a fish! A fish that can swim in an ocean of love, love for our dear most Sri Sri Radha Shyama.
And where is such an ocean?
In conclusion to your letter you have asked as to where is the ocean of love? And I think that you may know that it is in your heart.
(Letter to Himavati — Los Angeles 12 December, 1968)
So it may not be such a bad idea to pray to Lord Balarama today, on His appearance day, to beg him for spiritual strength, so that we may feel inspired to daily, and carefully, read Bhagavad Gita & Srimad Bhagavatam and that we at least make an endeavor to chant without offences. Lord Balarama is the killer of Dhenukasura (the ass demon). So this ass who is within us, who still does not listen to instructions of acharaya, can be very easily killed by Lord Balarama. A short and sincere prayer at His lotus feet today can be a good beginning today in our journey of change of heart!
All glories to Sri Guru & Gauranga
All glories to Srila Prabhupada