"So jñānam, knowledge, means distinguishing between spirit and matter. And this knowledge should be cultivated and taken full advantage in this life. That is successful life. In the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam it is stated, tasyaiva hetoḥ prayateta kovido na labhyate yad bhramatām upary adhaḥ (SB 1.5.18).
Now, a living entity, a spiritual spark, is wandering, wandering from not only from one country to another country or from one body to another, but one planet to another. The qualification of a living entity is called sarva-ga. Sarva-ga. Sarva means all, and ga means one can go. You can go anywhere. Just like you have the facility of travelling over the surface of the earth or in the outer space on the earth. But you cannot go beyond the orbit. This is called conditioned life.
In conditioned life we are limited in our travelling. But in spiritual life we can travel anywhere. The best example is Nārada Muni. He can travel anywhere he likes. Even in this universe we have got a planet which is called Siddhaloka, the planet of the perfect. Not perfect completely, but they are called siddhas. Siddha means almost perfect. The inhabitants of that planet, they can travel without any aid of sputnik or aeroplane from one planet to another. We get this information from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
So in spiritual life we have got complete freedom to move, to act, to enjoy. So that spiritual knowledge should be cultivated. That is the best utilization of this human form of life. If we do not utilize this human form of life for spiritual cultivation, then we are practically committing suicide, ātma-han.
There is a very nice Sanskrit verse that... just like you have to cross a great ocean. Now, if you want to cross Atlantic Ocean from New York to England, then you must have a very nice ship and a good captain, and the atmosphere very favorable. Then it is very easy to cross. So that example is given in a Sanskrit verse, nṛ-deham ādyaṁ su-labhaṁ su-kalpam (SB 11.20.17).
Now, to cross this ocean of material existence... this is ocean. It is compared with ocean. Bhava-sāgara. Sāgara means ocean. So to cross this ocean you have got very nice ship. What is that? Nṛ-deham: this human form of life. Nṛ-deham ādyam. It is very nice ship. And su-labhaṁ, su-labhaṁ su-durlabham. Su-labham means this kind of ship you cannot get always. It is an opportunity.
This is an opportunity, because we do not know what is going to happen in my next life. There is no guarantee that in next life you are going to take your birth in America or in human form of life. There is no guarantee. Therefore, so long you have got this opportunity, you must fully utilize it. Nṛ-deham ādyam su-labhaṁ su-durlabham. Su-labham, by opportunity, by fortune, we have got this, su-labham. And su-durlabham. Su-durlabham, it is very difficult to get this body, because... just imagine.
By gradual evolutionary process from the aquatic to the plant life, then from plant life to worm life, then from worm life to bird's life, then from bird's life to beast life, from beast life to human life—this is the gradual process of evolution. So therefore this human form of life is very difficult to get. By some fortune we have got now. So therefore it is said, su-labhaṁ su-durlabham.
And you have got this nice ship. And guru-karṇa-dhāram: and if you have got a nice spiritual master who is captain, good captain, who can help you, so I mean to ply your ship on the same. So nṛ-deham ādyam su-labhaṁ su-durlabham. And atmosphere is Kṛṣṇa consciousness, created by the Supreme Lord by delivering you the message of Bhagavad-gītā. So you have got very good atmosphere. Just you compare in the same way: If the Atlantic Ocean there is no wind, there is no hurricane, and you have got a very good ship and very good captain, now take this opportunity of crossing. If you don't cross, then you are committing suicide. Oh, very nice.
So these are the opportunities of developing your knowledge in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and spiritual culture. And the advantage is that as soon as you become fully conscious of your constitutional position, then you are freed from this material, I mean to say, entanglement. This is called jñānam. Jñānam asammohaḥ. Don't be very hesitant. Asammohaḥ means if you want to acquire some knowledge, you should acquire it maybe slowly but acquire it very surely, step by step. Don't be impatient. Asammohaḥ. Not that blindly accepting something and thinking that 'I have got all knowledge. Finished.' No.
You have got developed consciousness, you have got intelligence, but that intelligence, consciousness, depends also on your mode of living, on your mode of behaviour. Therefore one has to become a brāhmaṇa, a sāttvika, in the modes of goodness. Then he'll be patient, patient; śānta, peaceful. If you become hesitant, then you cannot. This is called asammohaḥ.
Asammohaḥ kṣamā. Kṣamā means tolerance. Tolerance. You should not be disturbed. Suppose you are in this Kṛṣṇa conscious Society. Now, you cannot expect that all the members of the Society will be first-class men. How can we expect? We are collecting members of the Society from all classes of men.
So there may be a man in goodness, a man in the passion and a man in the ignorance. But if you think, 'Oh, this man is not good. That man is not good,' oh... no. You should be tolerant. You haven't got any connection with this man or that man. You are connected with the philosophy, with the process of life, and you are connected... just like the same example: suppose you are on the ship. You do not find just all men to your choice. There may be different kinds of men. But what is that to you?
You have to cross the Atlantic Ocean, patiently cross. Just sit down tightly on the ship and take advantage of the opportunity. That is your business. This is called kṣamā. Kṣamā means excuse and tolerant. Suppose somebody has offended you. Excuse him. This is also another kind of penance. Lord Caitanya has taught us:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(CC Adi 17.31)
If you want to chant Hare Kṛṣṇa, then you have to become tolerant. What kind of tolerance? Just like a tree. Don't you think a tree, how much tolerant it is? Everybody is committing offense on the tree. Somebody is snatching its twigs, somebody is snatching its flowers, somebody snatching leaves, somebody cutting, but it does not protest. Rather, on the contrary, it supplies you fruits, flowers, and gives you shelter. So tree is the nicest example for tolerance. So Lord Caitanya teaches us that we should become tolerant just like a tree. And tṛṇād api sunīcena, and forbearance just like a grass. Just like you trample over grass, it does not protest.
Tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā. And you should not be puffed up with your artificial honour: 'Oh, I am this. I am that.' This, that, we that is belongs to this body. You are apart from this body. Suppose we are king in this body. So you have no connection with that body. And suppose you are the poorest man. You have no connection with that body. So why do identify yourself that 'I am poor' or 'I am king'? You are neither king, neither poor. You are spirit soul. Therefore amāninā. You should not be hankering after these temporary honours of this material world. Honour or dishonour, the same thing, because we do not belong to that honour, that kind of honour or dishonour.
So tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā, amāninā mānadena. But other foolish creature who disturbs you, you should give him all honour. Who is identified with this body, give him all honour: 'Oh, you, sir, you are very beautiful. You are very learned.' So that he may not disturb you, give him all honour. So:
tṛṇād api sunīcena
taror api sahiṣṇunā
kīrtanīyaḥ sadā hariḥ
(CC Adi 17.31)
In this process you can go on chanting. Nobody will disturb you. Because as soon as you take to spiritual life, there will be so many disturbances. Because it is a declaration of war with the illusory energy, so as soon as you become Kṛṣṇa conscious, the illusory energy sees, 'Oh, this man is going out of my hand, out of my control. Oh, give him all impediments.' Therefore you have to learn this tolerance.' "
(Srila Prabhupada Lecture, New York, January 4, 1967)