The process of knowledge
The Bhagavad-gita in Chapter 13 verses 8-12 describe various qualities which constitute the real process of knowledge. This real knowledge is the process of getting out of the material world. Ordinary so-called knowledge may be useful for living in the material world and exploiting its' various resources, yet it has no value for understanding what is beyond matter. Real intelligence from a spiritual perspective is knowing the distinction between matter and spirit and the controller of both, as well as the process of reviving our eternal nature as souls.
I invite you to read Prabhupada's explanation of these verses in the Gita. Here are the verses to peak your interest:
"Humility; pridelessness; nonviolence; tolerance; simplicity; approaching a bona-fide spiritual master; cleanliness; steadiness; self-control; renunciation of the objects of sense gratification; absence of false ego; the perception of the evil of birth, death, old age and disease; detachment; freedom from entanglement with children, wife, home and the rest; even-mindedness amid pleasant and unpleasant events; constant and unalloyed devotion to Me; aspiring to live in a solitary place; detachment from the general mass of people; accepting the importance of self-realization; and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth----all these I declare to be knowledge, and besides this whatever there may be is ignorance."
The most important item Prabhupada says is unalloyed devotion to God, which is really the culmination of real knowledge. In that sense without devotion and love for Krishna, all the other above mentioned items have no value. In fact if we take to the process of devotional service or bhakti yoga, then all these other qualities develop. The soul has by nature all good qualities, so if we become purified by performing devotional service we revive and rediscover this pure nature. In order to engage in devotional service, Prabhupada reminds us, we require the guidance of a spiritual master---as these verses state.
In Western culture there is a strong reluctance with the idea of "submitting" to anyone, and there may be reluctance among new comers or "second generation" devotees (children of devotees) for many understandable reasons. However, one should have the faith, that Krishna will provide what you need for your progressive spiritual life.
Krishna says in the Gita in the 9th chapter that for those who worship him with exclusive devotion, he carries what they lack and preserves what they have. In an ordinary sense the needs of all living entities are provided for, so what to speak of for devotees, or those who have understood the necessity of Krishna consciousness and the limitations of material enjoyments.
If we lack faith in our ability to accept a Guru, or to follow the principles of spiritual life, then we have to pray for it, expecting Krishna will be merciful to us. Whatever reluctance we may have for engaging in the process given by Krishna and his agents, we should acknowledge that before Krishna and the Vaishnavas, while believing that our understanding can be transformed through our sincerely calling out in prayer and the holy name. Krishna knows our intension and sincerity and takes the best part of our endeavors to please him.
Another important Gita verse for this discussion, is in the 4th chapter 11th verse, where Krishna says, that in proportion to our surrender he reveals himself accordingly. What is important to us will be rewarded. Remember, our necessity rules. If we truly want to understand and love Krishna, he will help us.
Notice that the beginning of knowledge is humility. Accepting a guru helps us to acknowledge our lack of knowledge, and living according to what we know. Our material disease is wanting to be the lord of the world or at least our personal tiny world. Rather than accepting our position as servant or cooperator with God, we have come to live in the material world as a servant of our senses and the material laws.
Our life here is always threatened by non-existence, and we have to work hard to prolong our life and avoid suffering. We are always a servant of God, either indirectly in the material world, or directly in the spiritual world. The choice is ours. Studying the process of knowledge and other important verses will help us come to the conclusion that service to guru, Krishna and the Vaishnavas (advanced devotees) is our real self interest.
Take heart because practice makes perfect. The more we try to be Krishna conscious, the more we are helped, and the more we will understand. We are surrounded by the Divine agents of Krishna whose job is to help our progressive march back to Krishna. We just have to keep our self in that light of mercy.
Problems or obstacles are inevitable---they are good for us and help us to grow. Don't just accept them or wallow in them, but call out for help, internally by prayer and externally through devotees you know and trust. Truly Krishna helps those who endeavor to be helped.