The Japa Retreat explained!

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The japa retreat also demonstrates the power of intention. When people join together with a shared purpose there is tremendous power created. Many religions and spiritual paths employ this technique with uplifting and helpful effects. Thus when devotees come together with the shared sacred purpose to improve their chanting, service to their gurus, the Vaishnavas and Krishna, a community is gradually created.

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So what is the Japa retreat? In the broadest (though very profound) sense it is a manifestation of Krishna's and Prabhupada's mercy. In the mood of the Gita, chapter 10 vs 41, where Krishna says that all opulent, beautiful, or glorious creations are a spark of his splendor---and thus represent him--the japa retreat to me embodied those qualities. For a devotee, what is more of an opulence than the association of pure intentioned devotees who are united in going deeper into Krishna consciousness and sharing it with each other?

(Perhaps I should have posted this before yesterdays' blog, but I was very excited to share what was to me a very inspired writing, though you may not have been able to understand what prompted my writing. I was hoping that you could feel my excitement. Actually this was on our first 64 round day. For me the last day out of 6 was the most inspiring--the culmination of those days of intense and focused chanting).

The background of the retreat idea is the vision and inspiration of many devotees, and I will give a rough approximation of how it has manifested. Certainly we all know that Prabhupada, as an important emissary of Lord Chaitanya, wanted us to take up the chanting of Hare Krishna as our LIFE and SUSTENANCE. His dear disciple His Holiness Bhatkitirtha Swami wanted to create various means for developing community and helping the devotees become balanced, caring Vaishnavas and human beings. With that inspiration his disciple, Purusa-sukta prabhu began a search of how to do that, and with the assistance of his wife, Divyambara Devi, they created an organization to create create uplifting, educational workshops.

In my view, due to their sincere desire and openness to serve devotees, their gurus, and the mission of Lord Chaitanya, Sacinandana Swami connected to them. His vision of ways to facilitate the improvement of the devotees most basic, essential and powerful spiritual practice---"japa" fit well Purusa-suktas. Japa as many here know is the regulated daily reciting of a fixed number of "rounds" on 108 prayer beads of the Hare Krishna mantra. Sacinandana Swami had a close brush with death, and came back from his near death experience with the deep realization that he needed to help facilitate the improvement of the foundational spiritual practice of chanting the holy name. He has an intense desire to do this, which comes out in his books and talks about the holy name.

I share the above to help you understand the spiritual roots of the japa retreat. It appears to be something new, though actually it is a way to go back to the basics of what Krishna consciousness is.

And what is Krishna consciousness?

Krishna consciousness is a process to revive our eternal consciousness and love for Krishna. This comes about by associating with Krishna. Such association is evoked through devotional service to him by pure chanting of his holy name, hearing his philosophy and activities, and seeing his Deity forms--all in the company of those who are Krishna consciousness, and intensely desire to love and serve him. So in a nutshell that is what the japa retreat is about, though in a very focused way centered on improving our chanting or calling out to Radha and Krishna.

The japa retreat also demonstrates the power of intention. When people join together with a shared purpose there is tremendous power created. Many religions and spiritual paths employ this technique with uplifting and helpful effects. Thus when devotees come together with the shared sacred purpose to improve their chanting, service to their gurus, the Vaishnavas and Krishna, a community is gradually created.

There are lectures about the different aspect of chanting, supportive techniques like sitting properly, proper pronunciation, good association, creating a sacred space, commitment, etc. There are questions and answers, discussion, sharing in groups of twos and with the whole group.

The six pillars of a retreat are discussed which are closely related.

The first, the creation of an intentional community, I have already mentioned. It means a shared purpose, and emptying out the past. Then a related pillar is a "liminal space" where we can go out of our comfort zone, and be open to thinking differently. These 2 pillars are facilitated by the 3rd pillar of separation of one's normal life. The idea is to create a symbolic death (the 4th), and which can foster a consequent new birth (the 5th) like the phoenix rising out of the ashes of the old. The sixth and final pillar us to have a receiver's mentality which could be referred to as the beginner's mind. We could have been chanting for years, though have bad habits.

The last day I was so moved. It is difficult to describe how I felt, yet it was profound. Now the task is to keep that level of intensely focused japa and prayer. I sit down every day with my wife to chant my rounds, now with a new fervor.

I hope you may consider attending such a japa retreat if possible. They are mainly held in the US, though they are also offered in Eastern Europe---as we speak Sacinandana Swami is holding one there (forget the location) and soon there will be others in more areas of the world.

For more information here is the website for the japa retreats:
http://www.bhagavatlife.com/

Combined comments from old site

Tue, 09/23/2008 - 11:03 — Radhikesh
Haribol

This is so wonderful to read. I kindly request you to tell us more on the techniques that were discussed to improve japa.

Radhikesh das


Tue, 09/23/2008 - 10:19 — NityānandaChandra
I am so excited about the

I am so excited about the one that is coming up here in Dallas. Thanks for sharing this