This morning for some reason i was thinking about Ravana. About how he kidnapped Sita, despite having everything he could possibly want. He was king of the most opulent country in the world at the time. He had technology beyond our current advanced science. He was able to create a passage thru the core of the earth (some say to Brazil) to collect the gold that covered Lanka's buildings. He also had the technology to create a staircase to the heavenly planets (long before Led Zeppelin wrote the song). His harem included the most beautiful women in the world, and his fighters were the best military persons. Many of them had mystic powers. Even his advisors were top-notch. In fact, he was a brahman who had vast knowledge of politics and diplomacy. Lord Rama told Laksman to ask Ravana for advice when Ravana was dying on the battlefield. Ravana said that if there is some auspicious work to do, do it immediately, and if there is something inauspicious, one should procrastinate. He cited how he did the opposite: by kidnapping Sita, he had put off his plans to build a passage to heaven. Instead of enjoying in those higher planets, he was now dying from a fatal wound inflicted by Rama.
Ravana's achilles heel, of course, was his lust. He could not shake off the illicit desire he felt in his heart to enjoy the goddess of fortune. Despite the good advice he received within his own circle, he relentlessly pursued her. Similarly, in spite of so many good instructions from various spiritual traditions and teachers, it is very difficult for us to control our senses and become real yogis in this world.
When we look at spiritual institutions like Iskcon we also see how another form of lust, known as pratishta, the desire for prestige, dominates its thinking. Rather than create a model of transparency and individual empowerment as Prabhupada wanted, the powers that be have created a sticky, ugly mess that excludes most of the direct disciples of Srila Prabhupada. Even when a disciple develops the maturity to want to take sannyas, the renounced order, he has to pledge allegiance not to his spiritual master and Krishna, but to the GBC! What a farce.
But returning to the main point, how is is possible to practice spiritual qualities in a world that is so polluted in its consciousness? One needs to listen to the words of saintly persons who have no motivation other than service to guru and God. Even if one is deaf, due to madness, intoxication or illusion, by repeatedly listening to the words and songs of holy persons, it will act on one's heart and gradually it will clear the heart of all muddy things. The lotus of good fortune will grow from that spot.