This one is for my dearest transcendental chum and fellow graduate of the Ann Arbor Asrama, HG Bhakta-Joe Swift aka Swift aka Joe-Dasa, this blog's biggest fan, who by his own account checks this lowly website no less than three times daily. His absorption in this blog is but a spark of the absorption he has for the Holy Name, and I aspire to taste what he is tasting one day.
This is a short excerpt from Prabhupada's purport to verse 2.9.36, the last of the nutshell verses of the Srimad-Bhagavatam. I take a lot of comfort from this passage, because this has been a rough few months for me as I stumble and bumble my way onto this most sublime path of devotional service. Many tests I haven't passed, and a few I have scraped by. I know I am not qualified. I know I am still addicted to so many sinful actvities. I know I am very much inexpert in so many aspects of this wonderful process, yet I know that as long as I keep going, under the proper guidance of all those exalted above me, then the fire of the Lord's love will burn away all that keeps me from the true desire of my heart, which is to serve all living entities as a devotee of Lord Caitanya, with all sincerity, earnestness, skill, and creativity.
"Therefore there is no need to seek properly qualified candidates for discharging devotional service to the Lord. Let them be either well behaved or ill trained, let them be either learned or fools, let them be either grossly attached or in the renounced order of life, let them be liberated souls or desirous of salvation, let them be inexpert in the discharge of devotional service or expert in the same, all of them can be elevated to the supreme position by discharging devotional service under the proper guidance....Even if a person is fully addicted to all sorts of sinful acts, if he happens to be engaged in the loving transcendental service of the Lord under proper guidance, he is to be considered the most perfect holy man without a doubt. And thus any person, whatsoever and whosoever he or she may be — even the fallen woman, the less intelligent laborer, the dull mercantile man, or even a man lower than all these — can attain the highest perfection of life by going back home, back to Godhead, provided he or she takes shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord in all earnestness. This sincere earnestness is the only qualification that can lead one to the highest perfectional stage of life, and unless and until such real earnestness is aroused, there is a difference between cleanliness or uncleanliness, learning or nonlearning, in the material estimation. Fire is always fire, and thus if someone touches the fire, knowingly or unknowingly, the fire will act in its own way without discrimination. The principle is: harir harati pāpāni duṣṭa-cittair api smṛtaḥ. The all-powerful Lord can purify the devotee of all sinful reactions, just as the sun can sterilize all sorts of infections by its powerful rays."