There was a wonderful lecture by HH Gour Govinda Swami about the need for simplicity. He made it look so simple, so to speak. All one really need is to believe in Krishna and not worry about anything else.
It’s a childlike simplicity and references to it are all over Prabhupada’s books, Sri Isopanishad included. It is not something you must grow out of, like any other childhood mentality, however, and that brings up the question – how to achieve it. I can’t say how to develop it, it doesn’t seem to be the product of hard work and a lot of planning and preparation and it appears in devotees naturally. Come to think of it – I’ve never seen it appearing, it’s just there, or isn’t.
Maybe one has to be born that way after lifetimes of planning and preparations. You can’t also fake it unlike almost any other sign of progress. Parallells with material societies do not provide many clues either but they still kind of demonstrate the concept.
First of all children – they just know nothing better than trust their parents. When I was very young I made big plans how I would ask my father to make me a knights mail, I was absolutely convinced he’d do it easily. Ok, I see the concept here but no practical applications can be gleaned from studying children – they grow of it rather fast.
Next example is starting a relationship. For the first few dates people are really nervous and self conscious but once they breach a certain barrier, somewhere between the first kiss and the first I love you, they feel really at ease with each other.
This is a good example because it starts from nothing and you can follow its developments. It all comes down to building trust – once you know that the other person is not going to abandon you out of the blue you let your guards down and your life becomes simple: “We love each other, there’s nothing more to say”.
The trickier part in this example is when love is one sided. How many people are perfectly at ease in a relationship when they are not in love? Krishna loves me, but He loves all other jivas equally, I’m looking for special treatment, for devotional service on a spiritual level, and demands like that make His love conditional, depending on MY love for Him, too, and there’s a clear lack of it. How can I trust Him when I can’t trust myself?
Another example is joining a club or a group. Like minded people usually enjoy each other company and they trust each other and provide a lot of help and support within their group. A newcomer needs to pass a test, he needs to demonstrate the same level of commitment and appreciation for the cause to be accepted, and that’s where it turns binary – he either has it or not. If he doesn’t – tough luck, he’s on his own, in a sense there could be support and advice but no trust or love.
This example is appropriate if one wants to become accepted in a society of devotees. Not ISKCON in general but some specific group. Our relationship guidelines dictate that one must be on the same level of advancement in devotional service to be treated as a friend, and until then one has to stick to devotees of his own level and work very hard himself if he wants to break into club “sankirtana”, for example.
I can’t help but think that it means we don’t have any prospect of upward movement – we’ll always have to stay with devotees of our own level and progress together. That basically means we have to achieve simplicity toghether, too. If I see a group of simple-minded devotees I can forget trying to join in, just hope to learn something from them and bring it back to my circle of friends, just like from listening to lectures of Gour Govinda Swami.
Who knows, maybe while I’m pondering the barriers to simpliciy other devotees, younger than us, think we are demogods participating in sankirtana lilas. They can’t be more wrong.
On the other hand – everyone has seen devotees blissfully stuffing themselves with prasadam and having a jolly good time without a worry for potential falldows. How do they do that? That is the question.