Temple worship is one of the duties of a devotee. It is especially recommended for neophytes, but those who are advanced should not refrain from temple worship. There is a distinction in the manner a neophyte and an advanced devotee appreciate the Lord’s presence in the temple. A neophyte considers the arcā-vigraha (the statue of the Lord) to be different from the original Personality of Godhead; he considers it a representation of the Supreme Lord in the form of a Deity. But an advanced devotee accepts the Deity in the temple as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He does not see any difference between the original form of the Lord and the statue, or arcā form of the Lord, in the temple. This is the vision of a devotee whose devotional service is in the highest stage of bhāva, or love of Godhead, whereas a neophyte’s worship in the temple is a matter of routine duty.
Temple Deity worship is one of the functions of a devotee. He goes regularly to see the Deity nicely decorated, and with veneration and respect he touches the lotus feet of the Lord and presents offerings of worship, such as fruits, flowers and prayers. At the same time, to advance in devotional service, a devotee should see other living entities as spiritual sparks, parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. A devotee is to offer respect to every entity that has a relationship with the Lord. Because every living entity originally has a relationship with the Lord as part and parcel, a devotee should try to see all living entities on the same equal level of spiritual existence. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, a paṇḍita, one who is learned, sees equally a very learned brāhmaṇa, a śūdra, a hog, a dog and a cow. He does not see the body, which is only an outward dress. He does not see the dress of a brāhmaṇa, or that of a cow or of a hog. He sees the spiritual spark, part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. If a devotee does not see every living entity as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, he is considered prākṛta-bhakta, a materialistic devotee. He is not completely situated on the spiritual platform; rather, he is in the lowest stage of devotion. He does, however, show all respect to the Deity.
Although a devotee sees all living entities on the level of spiritual existence, he is not interested in associating with everyone. Simply because a tiger is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord does not mean that we embrace him because of his spiritual relationship with the Supreme Lord. We must associate only with persons who have developed Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
We should befriend and offer special respect to persons who are developed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Other living entities are undoubtedly part and parcel of the Supreme Lord, but because their consciousness is still covered and not developed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we should renounce their association. It is said by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura that even if one is a Vaiṣṇava, if he is not of good character his company should be avoided, although he may be offered the respect of a Vaiṣṇava. Anyone who accepts Viṣṇu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead is accepted as a Vaiṣṇava, but a Vaiṣṇava is expected to develop all the good qualities of the demigods.
The exact meaning of the word sattvena is given by Śrīdhara Svāmī as being synonymous with dhairyeṇa, or patience. One must perform devotional service with great patience. One should not give up the execution of devotional service because one or two attempts have not been successful. One must continue. Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī also confirms that one should be very enthusiastic and execute devotional service with patience and confidence. Patience is necessary for developing the confidence that “Kṛṣṇa will certainly accept me because I am engaging in devotional service.” One has only to execute service according to the rules and regulations to insure success.