The whole reason why there is suffering in this world is selfishness. We are so much concerned with ‘me’ or ‘mine.’ It is the anchor that keeps us in this world birth after birth. Even if we are chanting the holy name and reading the Bhagavatam we may still have materialistic desires. Why? Does the process work?
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja was asked the same question. He told the story of the marriage party. A newly married couple had to take an overnight boat ride and it was already dark. The boatman started to row and he rowed the boat all night, but when the couple woke up in the morning they were still in the same place. Everyone was confused how this could be, and then they noticed the boatman had forgotten to pull up the anchor. He was rowing all night long, but he didn’t get anywhere. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja described how our desire to enjoy this world is the anchor. Our multitude of attachments to materialistic life is our anchor. If we don’t change our desire and make a conscious decision to change our attachments, then we can chant the maha mantra all life long and we hardly get anywhere.
People may do so much service, but still may criticize others and be selfish. What does that mean? That they really haven’t pulled up the anchor. You can chant the holy names and make some advancement. But you are not going to make real advancement until you change your desire. This is because Krishna is in His name and will reciprocate accordingly to our desire.
What is the use of all philosophy without good character? These things are all based upon desire. We hear from great saints what is their desire. They are praying to the Lord, “Don’t fulfill my lust; but rather free me from lust, pride, illusion, greed, anger and envy. I just want to be your servant, my dear Lord.” If we have that desire then very rapidly we can proceed. We must pull up the anchor. —Radhanath Swami