Question: Is it right to say that “I am trying to be nice”? As for me, I think one should be naturally nice, but when the word “trying” comes in a statement in regards to a positive act, then the act is not from the heart. I could be wrong, please clarify.
Romapada Swami Answers: As discussed in a previous answer, only spiritual qualities endure in all circumstances because they are real and they are coming from the soul platform. In our conditioned state whatever qualities we have are on a material platform and therefore they do not endure when one’s buttons are pushed beyond a certain point or in other words when the influence of modes of nature on us is very strong. But one cannot go from a conditioned state to a liberated state all of a sudden. There is an interim period during which one is practicing to develop those qualities for the pleasure of Krsna. While one is in the stage of practice all the activities or speech may not flow from the heart naturally but it is also not a pretension or artificial or imitation if one is genuinely trying to cultivate those qualities. During this stage of cultivation some of our speech or activities may seem awkward but by practice it will become one’s nature. This is what Srila Prabhupada said – “By practice it becomes second nature.” So we must be very careful in coming to some conclusions because someone said, “I am trying xyz..”
Below is an excerpt from a very nice morning walk conversation of Srila Prabhupada in San Francisco on 3/23/1968 where Prabhupada talks about the importance of practice:
Prabhupada: “Yes. Practically everything depends on practice. Abhyasa-yoga-yuktena cetasa nanya-gamina [Bg. 8.8]. Abhyasa-yoga. Abhyasa-yoga means yoga practice… Practice it. So this whole Krsna consciousness movement is to practice transferring from one kind of consciousness to another. So we require practice. Just like one man can run few miles. I cannot run even one mile. He has practiced. We see some boys, they run, run on. They practice. Practice it. Strength of the heart increasing by practice. And if I run, my heart will be palpitating. Because I have no practice. So by practice, everything can be attained.“