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How can we recognize sincerity?

The signs of sincerity

(SB 9.20.2, NJNK, Germany, November 27, 1993)

Q: What are the signs of a devotee who is sincere?

HH KrKS: Well, sincerity - how to recognize? A significant way to recognize is by actions. There is a saying in English that "Talk is cheap." One can say so many things, but what are one's actions? People say, "I have love for God," "That is very nice. What do you do for God?" - that is our question. Or, "How do you follow the orders of God?" Then, steadiness is certainly an indication of sincerity. If one continues devotional service despite so many difficulties, then that is certainly a sign of sincerity. Even someone may have so many other disqualifications. Sometimes we may see someone kind of stumbling through spiritual life, or we may sometimes ourselves feel like we are stumbling through. But we one continues endeavoring and always moves despite the difficulties, then that is one's sincerity. And that is why Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita that "When someone endeavors to serve Me, I give intelligence." So that favorable service, that is the sincerity. Priti-purvakam.

One thing comes to mind is when Prabhupada was recommended by devotees to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura for initiation. They recommended Abhay Babu, and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, "O yes, I have marked him. He listens very well." [...] So that would be one way that we see sincerity. There are many ways we can see sincerity, I think. When the Vaisnavas are pleased with someone's service, then that is certainly an indication. [...]

One good indication of sincerity is that someone is still there, practicing devotional service after so many years. So many come and go, give up the process for one reason or another. So those who stay... Of course, we should also be careful not to be overhasty and judging those who give up devotional service. Although they may be weak, it is not necessarily that they have no sincerity. Maybe due to weakness they could not see how they could fit into the society of devotees and they felt, for one reason or another, the need to go away. But many of those have a great deal of sincerity and they want to do devotional service. They just need some more pushing, some more encouragement to do so.

So, sincerity is a kind of subtle thing. One might compare it to fire. The fire of desire to serve Krsna - it can be a very small, flickering flame. And what we want to do is to fan the flame, we want to make it stronger so that it becomes very powerful, like a bonfire, which will burn up anything which interrupts or inhibits.