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To advance in spiritual life, what things should I avoid? What basic qualities should I try to cultivate?

Srimad-Bhagavatam lists four qualities essential for spiritual growth (from First Canto, Chapter 17, Verse 24).

  • mercy
  • cleanliness
  • self-discipline
  • truthfulness

Anyone who cultivates these qualities and sincerely chants Krishna’s names can make rapid spiritual progress.

Here are four activities that slow down spiritual progress:

  • eating meat, fish, or eggs (destroys mercy)
  • sex outside scriptural regulations (destroys cleanliness)
  • intoxication (destroys self-discipline)
  • gambling (destroys truthfulness)

At first, these things may seem difficult to give up, but the spiritual satisfaction one gets from practicing Bhakti yoga makes it easy to live without them. Keeping company with fellow practitioners also helps one to gain strength and determination.