Devotee: How can one reach the point where he knows that a particular type of service will please the spiritual master?
Madhudvisa: He wants to know how to find out how to please the spiritual master with one service.
Srila Prabhupāda: The spiritual master has given you so many things to do. First of all finish that. First of all finish sixteen rounds, observe the regulative principles. First of all finish this duty. And neglecting this duty, what can you do further? If you cannot finish sixteen rounds of chanting and if you cannot observe the regulative principles, then what else can you do? First of all finish this duty. Be expert in finishing, executing these duties. Then ask for another duty. And if you finish these duties, automatically Krishna will give you intelligence. Tesām satata-yuktānām bhajatām prīti-pūrvakam [Bg. 10.10]. One who is actually engaged in the service of the Lord, buddhi-yogam dadāmi tam, “I give him intelligence.” Krishna will give you intelligence. You will be able to talk with Krishna from within if you become sincere. If you cannot execute the preliminary duties, then how can you execute further duty? There is no question.
Madhudvisa: This is a problem, I think, with many devotees. They have a difficulty distinguishing between their own speculation and the inspiration…
Srila Prabhupāda: Then they should stop speculation. That is their first duty. Devotional life means stop speculation.
Madhudvisa: Well, what is inspiration then?
Srila Prabhupāda: Inspiration? That inspiration is there. That is very good, that “I shall do something for Krishna.” So whatever duty is assorted to you or allotted to you, you first execute that duty.
Devotee (2): How important is formal initiation?
Srila Prabhupāda: Formal initiation means to accept, officially, to abide by the orders of Krishna and His representative. That is formal initiation. Officially accept, “Yes, sir, I shall accept. I shall do whatever you say.” This is initiation, official acceptance of the job. That’s all. Now, you formally accept, and if you do not do the duties, then where is the question of other function? There is no question. Initiation means this is the beginning of accepting to carry out the orders of Krishna and His representative. This is the beginning. That is initiation. Just like when you enter in an office establishment, you accept the terms of service. That is initiation. Then you go on serving, you become promoted, you get salary increase. You become recognized. You become officer. Then you become a big officer. The very word initiation suggests, “This is the beginning.” Dīksā means the initiation to begin transcendental activities. That is called initiation. Therefore we take promise from the disciple that “You chant so many times,” ‘Yes, sir.’ “You observe these rules and regulations,” ‘Yes, sir.’ That is initiation. He has to observe; he has to chant. Then everything comes automatically. If in the beginning itself, he is faulty; then how can he make progress? There is no question of in…, what is called? What you were asking?
Srila Prabhupāda: Inspiration. What is that inspiration? If you have got inspiration, first of all execute this. Inspiration there is. Because we are, by nature, servants of Krishna – we want to serve. But that should be regulated. That should be regulated. That is initiation. Yes?
Madhudvisa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, you were speaking about Śravanam kīrtanam visnoh smaranam [SB 7.5.23], that any one of these principles, if executed, is sufficient. Now, some devotees may take this to mean that they simply can chant Hare Krishna and don’t have to do anything else like temple duties or readings or…
Srila Prabhupāda: That means he is not chanting Hare Krishna. Because if he is actually chanting Hare Krishna, he must be enthusiastic to serve Krishna more and more. This is an excuse. Utsāhān dhairyāt tat-tat-karma-pravartanāt… He must be very enthusiastic. Therefore we have limited. If you are chanting Hare Krishna, if you are so advanced, then chant Hare Krishna twenty-four hours. But he will sleep. (makes snoring noise) (laughter) So in the name of chanting Hare Krishna, you will sleep. And if you are actually chanting Hare Krishna, you will be enthusiastic, “Oh, I shall serve. I shall…” That is the effect. phalena paricīyate: We have to see by the result. He should be more and more enthusiastic. Ānandāmbudhi-vardhanam. It will increase. The service attitude will increase. Therefore we have given all the nine items sometimes here, sometimes there, sometimes here, but all Krishna’s. Actually all the nine are recommended, but if even one is accepted sincerely, that also will give perfection. That is another thing. But actually, we should accept all the nine items: Śravanam kīrtanam visnu smaranam pāda-sevanam, arcanam…
[The above conversation was recorded on February 22, 1973 in Auckland, New Zealand]sb 6.1.15 q&a