What about our past? How do we deal with it?
What is important is the direction we are facing, not the direction we have come from. However, when we look at our past it can be an impetus to move forward if we feel ashamed for what we have done and remember the pain that such activities caused us.
Still, we are affected by our past in the sense that past activities create present conditioning. To deal with this, Patanjali says we should meditate on the pain and negative consequences of the actions we want to give up. These negative impressions cause detachment, whereas attachment is caused by remembering the pleasure of past activities. So if you find yourself attached to something you want to give up, associate pain with the consequences of those activities.
Krsna’s is most concerned with what we do, not what material desires exist in our hearts. Therefore the Srimad Bhagavatam says engage in bhakti even if you are full of desire. We tolerate our sinful desires while we engage in Krsna consciousness. Of course, many desires can be engaged in Krsna’s service. Here, I am specifically referring to actions prohibited in sastra.
Krsna will always forgive our past sins. Srila Prabhupada says that we should regret our past sinful activities. That regret doesn’t just mean to say “I am sorry.” It means to rectify our actions. The best apology is right action in the future.
Krsna forgives us because if He didn’t forgive us, we couldn’t do bhakti. Krsna loves us because he cannot but love us. But what He doesn’t love is that we continually ask for forgiveness while committing sinful activities again. Krsna cleans our slate so that we can take up bhakti. Our job, then, is to keep the slate clean.
Srila Prabhupada explains that it is more sinful to commit a sin with the intention of asking forgiveness than it is to simply commit the sin. Amazingly, Christianity has built an entire theology on this principle. This theology is based on the premise that all men are sinful. Krsna consciousness is based on the premise that by guru and Krsna’s mercy, we can get the strength to give up sinful life.