(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 30 July 2016, London, England, Initiation Lecture)
Endeavour is required to make progress in this material world and austerity is part of it but austerity is not the goal. In Krsna consciousness also, whatever austerities are connected to initiation is not the goal; that is not the meditation. When we speak about four regulative principles, they are actually four prohibitions. So prohibition, restriction and austerity seem to come in that line but the Bhagavad-gita speaks about the regulative principles of freedom which is a different interpretation, a different understanding. In the Bhagavad-gita the regulative principles are not looked upon as restrictive but rather as liberating. This is interesting because generally, we experience these things as restrictions. When we get involved with the Hare Krsna Movement, we cannot eat this and we cannot eat that… there are so many complications… men and women interactions, there are so rules governing the whole thing. So many restrictions that we also tend to perceive these regulative principles as restrictive, even when we take initiation… this is the price we have to pay so we can go back to godhead if all goes well.
But the truth is that these regulative principles are restricting nothing but our maya, our illusion! And actually all these things that we are giving up were the cause of our pain, they were a thorn in our side. They were actually all along the sources of our suffering – eating inedible things is the source of so much suffering, gambling is insanity as it just destroys one’s life, illicit sex and intoxication just bind us in suffering so naturally as we give it up, it is very nice as we become free. We are giving up nothing but suffering!
I learnt this from my spiritual master who summed it up very simple. When he was in New York, a policeman saw him in his robes and asked, “What is it that you guys have to give up??” and his answer was, “SUFFERING!”
We should always remember that we are just getting liberated from all this suffering. We are very fortunate actually… it is very wonderful to live by these principles even if our stubborn, obstinate minds are sometimes rebelling!