Bhaktivinoda Thakur continues:
To gain factual knowledge and realization of that eternal supreme Person, one should find a qualified guru who is learned in the Vedas, who is firmly established in the service of Bhagavan, and who knows the Absolute Truth. One should then approach that guru and should surrender body, mind, and words to him with faith and humility.
Karma, yoga, and jnana all produce naimittika-sukrti. The association of devotees, and contact with acts of devotion, produces Nitya-sukrti, (eternal pious activities). Only one who has accumulated Nitya-sukrti over many lifetimes will develop sraddha, (faith). Naimittika-sukrti produces many different results, but it will not lead to the development of faith in unalloyed bhakti.
Thus, all types of sukrti that nourish bhakti are Nitya-sukrti. When this sukrti becomes strong, one gradually develops sraddha in unalloyed bhakti, and one attains sadhu-sanga, (association of sadhu’s).”
Regardless of all this, the bottom line is; improper siksha, results in no advancement, or very little advancement at best, and the complete lack of essential instructions, and knowledge, will result in no advancement at all.
I sincerely implore you to stop and contemplate, and scrutinize, why you have these questions in the first place. Only a beginner Kanistha would not know the answers to these questions. Where an intermediate Kanistha would, for sure, know the answers. Therefore, if you do not know the answers to these three questions, you really need to investigate why.
You also have a wrong understanding of what the process of bhakti is, and how it is executed.
You do not have the proper guru & disciple relationship, which is essential and, which is our siddhanta.
The hardest words, I have to say to you, is that you need to evaluate and scrutinize, how and why you selected your guru. You did not follow the instructions given in shastra, on what is a genuine guru, and what a genuine disciple is, and used them to determine two things,
- Is this person I have chosen as my guru, a genuine guru?
- And, am I a genuine disciple?
If you answered these two questions, with some other criteria, other than what is in shastra, and what Srila Prabhupada instructed, then there are these possibilities.
- Your guru is not genuine; therefore, is not qualified to be guru.
- You are not a qualified disciple.
- Your guru is qualified, and you are not.
- You are qualified, and your guru is not.
- Your guru is not what you think he is, and what others say he is.
- Your guru is more than likely, a Kanistha adhikari, and at best, a Madhyama-adhikari. Therefore, you cannot advance beyond those platforms. In Nectar of Instruction, Verse 5, Purport, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“One should not become a spiritual master unless he has attained the platform of uttama-adhikari. A neophyte Vaisnava or a Vaisnava situated on the intermediate platform can also accept disciples, but such disciples must be on the same platform, and it should be understood that they cannot advance very well toward the ultimate goal of life under his insufficient guidance. Therefore, a disciple should be careful to accept an uttama-adhikari as a spiritual master.”
You have quite a predicament to solve. And as Englishmen say, “you are in a spot of bother”, in other words, you have a problem; a predicament.
The only other analogy, I can think of, is that you are rowing a boat to cross the ocean of material existence, but you have not pulled up the anchor, so your rowing is getting you nowhere. The anchor represents the three modes of material nature.
A note about “mercy”: It has been in front of you all the time, however you have had your eyes covered, so that you could not see it. There is more mercy than you can imagine, and in very large quantities. These enormous amounts of “mercy”, is Srila Prabhupada’s books, lectures, conversations, and letters.
If you do not trust my words, then maybe you can trust Srila Prabhupada’s,
Srimad-bhagavatam 3.32.27 purport,
“Devotional service mixed with the modes of material nature is a means for material existence.”
Lecture, Bhagavad-gita.1974, Hawaii
“Unless one is firmly established in the mode of goodness, one spiritual life is simply a bluff”.
“Because without coming to the platform of sativa-guna, (mode of goodness), nobody can advance in spiritual life. That is a fact.”
“Just like nobody is allowed to enter the law college unless he is a graduate. This restriction is there. What he will understand, law? He must be a graduate. So similarly, first of all, one has to come to the platform of sativa-guna. Then spiritual knowledge begins. Because spiritual knowledge is above sativa-guna. Above sativa-guna. Therefore, sativa-guna is the best quality, when one brain is clear and he can see things as they are, no hazy understanding, but clear understanding. Therefore, sativa-guna is the qualification of brahmana.”
 Yoga—a spiritual discipline meant for linking one’s consciousness with the Supreme Lord, Krishna; Literally, connection; the discipline of self-realization. One of the six systems of Vedic philosophy, taught by Patanjali. According to Bhagavad-gita, the most sublime form of yoga is bhakti-yoga (the yoga of pure devotion). Through the process of bhakti-yoga, the consciousness of the individual soul connects with its source, Krishna. This is called Krishna consciousness. By Krishna consciousness, the soul rids itself of the bondage of the three modes of material nature and returns back home, Back to Godhead.
 Jnana —knowledge. Material jnana does not go beyond the material body. Transcendental jnana discriminates between matter and spirit. Perfect jnana is knowledge of the body, the soul and the Supreme Lord.