“The Lord gives special mercy when we first come to Krishna consciousness. In the beginning we tend to be offenseless. When I first joined, I thought that everyone in the temple was a pure devotee. And I spoke with other devotees of my generation, and they said the same thing. But after a while we may start to see the devotees’ human tendencies and begin to think, “Oh, they are not pure devotees.” We may see that this one has this fault and that one has that fault, and in subtle ways we may commit offenses. And when we commit offenses we don’t get the same experience from chanting the holy names and engaging in the other practices.
“But there is hope. After the stage of becoming aware of the devotees’ weaknesses, there is another stage, in which we are aware that on the human level they have human tendencies but that their real essence, their internal nature, is actually devotional. What is really prominent in their hearts is their desire to love and serve Guru and Krishna. And when we see them in their spiritual essences and appreciate them as devotees, we don’t commit offenses and can relish the practices of Krishna consciousness as we did in the beginning, when we first joined.”