There may be confusion on the part of a neophyte devotee, how a devotee living in this material world, practicing Krsna Consciousness for considerable time still may be seemingly affected by the three modes of nature.
The following testimony from Bhagavat Prabhu is clarifying this point very vividly.
Srila Prabhupada explains in most wonderful way how a devotee can live safely in this world, even tormented by material nature. Of course, this text gives no room for notoric type of misbehaviour as often demonstrated by various religious institutions, where representatives of particular faith exhibit most obnoxious types of actions and explain that “the flesh is weak”. Such hypocricy is not tolerated by the Supreme Lord.
Srila Prabhupada´s description of the transcendental position of a faithful devotee is self explanatory:
Bhagavat: Srila Prabhupada asked if we had any questions. I was an avid reader, and by that time I had read the little blue Bhagavad Gita twelve or fourteen times. One of my favorite parts was “The Modes of Material Nature”. Being philosophical by nature, I wanted to understand some of the more refined and subtle points. So I said to Prabhupada, ”I am confused because throughout your books and in your lectures, you say that when you become a devotee, you are on the transcendental platform. But at the same time, you talk about being affected by the modes of material nature. Although I am a devotee practicing the principles of devotional service and experiencing a certain amount of transcendental pleasure, at the same time I feel affected by the modes of material nature. How is it that I can be on the transcendental platform and still be affected by the modes of material nature?
Prabhupada smiled. He saw that it was a thoughtful and introspective question and said:
“That is a very good question.” He answered: ”It is just like being on a boat. When you are on a boat, no one can say that you are not on a boat. You are on the boat. But sometimes big waves will come and rock that boat, so your position in the boat may not be steady. Those waves are the modes of material nature, and the boat is the transdendental platform. You are on the transcendental platform, but sometimes the waves of material nature rock the boat, and therefore your position is not steady.”
Then he asked: ”How will I become steady? For that you have to learn from the captain of the boat, the spiritual master, how to steer the boat. If you learn expertly, then your position in the boat will be steady even in the greatest storm. Similarly, on the transcendental platform, if you learn from the spiritual master how to steer the boat of transcendence through the ocean of material life, then you will become steady even in the greatest storm of the modes of material nature.”
I was impressed at how Prabhupada explained complex philosophy with a simple analogy.