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Aspirations While Chanting: When Will This Day Be Permanently Mine?

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(this blog is recorded on the full page: quick time player needed)
Japa Day

I didn’t begin with the idea that the fragments that came to me during a japa emersion day, now made into a poem, would be a continuation from my last blog, on “Identifying Our Self with Krishna,” but it has turned out that way. What I am exploring here, are my thoughts about what it means to be devotee of Krishna, why I chant the Hare Krishna mantra, and what I really want, in my heart of hearts—or at least, what I pray to obtain as a permanent condition. We are all a complex combination of many parts, which can sometimes compete for dominance, yet whoever I am as a human being is being changed by bhakti, albeit, very slowly. Still, it is nice to look at our most spiritual aspirations—not just officially, but truly—and really want to go there, and thus far beyond our materialistic qualities, like lust, anger, greed, enviousness, and all the rest. Looking at what we want to become, or our highest ideal, is like taking our spiritual pulse, because it gives us an idea of who were are, and will become. As Prabhupada taught us, through bhakti practices, we are in the bath of purification, scrubbing the dirt off our soul, and eventually, with the mercy of Guru and Krishna, our soul will awaken, and our material identity will be subservient to the needs of our soul.

1
64 round opportunity at Krishna Road Temple
chanting Hare Krishna with devotees for 6 hours
aspiring to offer each bead, representing each mantra
in concentrated devotion, without sleeping—
so between mantras and rounds
thinking even a nobody can glimpse the goal
I wrote down some prayers and daydreams:
to empty myself out of distractions
to let go other possibilities where I could be
of whatever may be unfavorable for chanting
wanting to totally give myself to Krishna—
if I only knew how, though I do what I can.

2
O Harinama, merciful form of Radha Krishna:
please bless me to be a real devotee
to completely accept you as my Lord,
dear-most friend and well-wisher,
realizing the rare gift of being a devotee
let me be grateful for every opportunity
to remember and serve you and devotees;
may my thoughts, feelings, decisions, actions
be those of a pure devotee, aligned with you
endeavoring always for your glory and the Path.

3
Let me go deeper, deeper, deeper,
touching my soul, let it be awakened
by chanting—not a means to an end—
no—this is reality, if I just truly hear
giving my concentration, in the moment
with feeling, petitioning you, Lord,
please let me be a devotee
accepting your mercy while sharing it
free from all selfishness, base qualities
the pure, awakened soul
may your will be done,
through me, within me, around me.

4
Casting off the weights of material attachments
so I can soar high in the sky of faith and love:
When will I chant the pure name
unable to stop, oblivious to time
transported beyond the busy mind
of accepting and rejecting unessential things
the petty concerns of living slow or high
mainly placating and protecting my ego,
distracted by other sounds, desires, pains
personality constructs, preferences, plans.
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5
Can I have a breakthrough
going beyond merely the Name’s words
to the heart of the mantra?
I beat my chest, upset, despondent
wondering what will become of me,
like a riven cloud, neither here or there
my hands on my head
the room seems to spin.

6
O, Their luscious, lovely forms
Radha-Krishna with Their associates
radiating loving kindness extraordinaire
the fragrance and feel of cool prema
moving, enticing, uplifting, intoxicating;
staring into Their eyes brings tears—
How can such beauty exist?

7
Their smiles, enchanting, penetrating,
the core of my heart electrified
overwhelmed I lose consciousness
I awaken to Their concerned expressions
fanning me, lifting my head, they give
liquid nectar, smooth flowing ambrosia—
Am I dreaming?—But No—
I am really living!

8
Carried in the ocean of ecstasy
like seaweed with no control
diving and surfacing by love’s power
utterly delectable, desirable, overwhelmed
yet never satiated or obtaining too much
Shri Rupa describes it like
drinking hot sugarcane juice—
too hot to stand, too sweet to resist!
Bhaktivinode Thakur
9
Remembering Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakur:
When will that day be mine?
My offences to the Name ceasing
relishable taste to the Name increasing
tears flooding my eyes with separation
hairs standing on end at Krishna’s beauty
my voice, in bliss, cracking, faltering
lamenting my remaining worldly desires
wondering when they will seem irrelevant.

10
Let my soul’s natural condition shine
the humility of grass
forbearance of the tree
with no desire for honor
seeing the good in others
encouraging all to come to you—
on my own, the modes swallow me
forgive my unfavorable conditioning
without your mercy I am lost
it isn’t about my strength or ability
though let me give it my all, accepting
Your, and my gurus empowerment.

11
When will that day be mine?
The holy name illuminates me
lays bare my material attractions
countless species/ statuses of life
a president or bag lady, deva or bug
all forced to serve their senses
chewing already chewed repeatedly
so-called happiness and distress
but spiritually empty, ending in death.

12
On samsara’s un-merry-go-round
so many combinations of the modes—
when will I really learn?—
consequences of our actions and reactions
compared to the blessings of a Vaishnava
beginning our awakening toward God,
sometimes unknowingly opening the door
to spiritual freedom, lasting happiness.
Chanting japa
13
When will that day be mine?
I will radiate divine love
a constant giver, without reservation
holding nothing back, like a river
progressing around or over obstacles
always feeling the goal, moving forward,
a container of Krishna’s love
serving all living beings
who come to her banks
no thought of who shouldn’t drink
I only carry life giving water
to nurture all, yet also secretly
containing Krishna’s foot dust
blessing all without discrimination
devotee’s desire to uplift all.

14
When will that day be mine?
Uplifted by desires to serve Radha-Krishna
I’ll be rightly, joyously situated
as a servant, of the servant, of the servant
meditating on Guru’s mercy
Shri Shri Gaura-Nitai’s embrace
freeing me from all ignorance
empowering me with bhakti-shakti
indiscriminately sharing prema like water
to parched souls in the desert
following my Guru’s footsteps
remembering Shri Chaitanya’s absorption
as Bhaktivinoda mediates on it.

15
When will that day be mine?
When Shri Radha’s servant
intervenes in my material life
extracting my covered soul for service?—
nothing remaining to give up
the only obstacles I feel
are only two eyes to see Krishna
only one mouth to sing His praises—
when will I only desire to improve
serving and pleasing my Lords
cheering and helping Their devotees?

16
When will that day be mine?
The youthful Divine Couple
always in the distance
sometimes catching a glimpse
identified as a “go-for” to fetch
necessary items for Their pleasure
as I carry out my joyful duties
consumed by loving remembrance
each step seeing Them everywhere,
deputed on missions of seva.

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Your prayers on chanting very

Your prayers on chanting very nicely portray how we devotees think and feel, very nice indeed. Thank you so much for sharing those.

It certainly is very important to keep our mind focused on Radha Krsna and the Holy Names and to prevent our unstable mind from flickering to other thoughts, regardless of how important or attractive they may seem to us at the time because when chanting, nothing is more important than concentrating on Krsna and thinking of Him. In fact, this applies to every scenario, not only when chanting. Sacred space and rising early to chant do indeed help to improve the quality of our japa. Our chanting forms part of our very own relationship with Krsna, and just as we maintain relationships with others, it is of topmost importance to predominantly maintain our relationship with Krsna. Sometimes, others may talk to us while we chant, we may become distracted by that TV show, or become obliged to respond to that phone call or text message. If we appreciate the presence of Krsna in His names, appreciate that we are begging Krsna, by chanting, to take us, to accept us as His devotee, to help us reach Him to go back Home, we can realise that all other activities can wait; that at that moment, the only thing that is important is to spend that quality time with Krsna.

Sometimes Krsna may test us while we chant, to see if we continue chanting even if we experience little or no taste, to see if we carry on for Krsna's enjoyment. With me, I always seem to get a sore throat when I chant, which is funny because I can talk and talk and talk so much during the day and I'm perfectly fine, but only when I chant do I experience 'sore throat issues'... and it can happen as early as having chanted just one round. As a result of this, it's sometimes tempting to stop chanting but I try my best to continue, for Krsna's pleasure; not to mention, it's also a very good way for me to pray to Krsna, through my chants, that I can experience a stronger taste for chanting so that material problems don't give me a reason to stop.

Once again, I'd just like to stress how nice your prayers are. Thanks a lot!

Your servant,
Roma

good insights

Roma, you have kindly shared some realizations and struggles you have concerning chanting. Such talks in relationship to Krishna and His holy name, are what devotee association is meant to be about. We are meant to encourage one another through the natural ups and downs of our walk toward Krishna. Whether we share our successes or struggles, let us always seek to improve. In addition to the deep and meaningful prayers in the scriptures I really appreciate calling out to Krishna in my heartfealt prayers such as I shared, anytime, but certainly during my chanting, since that is such a focused time spent with Radha and Krishna--which is another point. Our japa mediation is meant to be our special time with Radha Krishna, as They are identical with Their Holy Names. Understanding this truth is the realization we pray for. Chanting isn't just a means to an end, but the process and goal are the same, although when we are realized we will directly experience the Name as non-different from our Lords. The Name is considered even more merciful, since there are no hard and fast rules for chanting, whereas there are so many rules in other types of devotional service. There are offenses to be avoided in chanting, yet we can still chant and can practice chanting in all circumstances, either aloud or silently, as the situation warrants. Haridas Thakur, known as the "namacharya," or teacher of the holy name, chanting 300,000 (3 lacs) of names, of which 100 thousand each for loud chanting, soft chanting (as japa is generally described), and mental japa. Thus we may employ these types of chanting. Prabhupada started us out in loud chanting, since our minds were so crazy--then chanting is a limb of kirtana, where as soft or mental chanting is considered meditation, and for most devotees, is much more difficult. Hare Krishna!

Thanks for sharing that,

Thanks for sharing that, Prabhu. Your words are always so nice to read. Please keep guiding young devotees like myself in this way; it really helps.

Your servant,
Roma

Chanting and not feeling happy

Q. I do chant every day! Still bad things happen. Sometimes I do chant all day long! It does not make me feel better, sadly to say!

A. We aren't chanting to have a carefree life, but to make spiritual progress and see Krishna as our ultimate shelter at all times. We all have our good and bad karma to go through, though when one is even a little bit on the spiritual platform, they can tolerate the difficulties and see them philosophically. In fact we are encouraged to see everything that happens to us as Krishna's mercy meant to help us make spiritual advancement. After all, most people whether arguably in a good situation or suffering, aren't interested in seeing God as their shelter.

From a spiritual perspective, good is what helps us take shelter of Krishna, and bad are those things that distract us from Krishna. This is why Queen Kunti prayed for further troubles--not because she was a masochist--but when she and her sons, the Pandavas, were in difficulty, Krishna came to their aid and they received his association. In other words a devotee would rather undergo tribulations and be Krishna conscious, then to have it made in the Bahamas, without Krishna in their lives.

So although we are all suffering in different ways due to our body and mind, we have to be educated in bhakti, keep good association, and have an intense spiritual practice, so we realize the value of Krishna, His name, and devotees. That is our real asset! I realize that sometimes we can't see how our pain is good for us on any level, yet still, we have to have the assumption that in some way, long term, it is part of our journey toward Krishna and our grown as a devotee and person. If we have really come to accept KC, what is our alternative.

I don't generally find material life particular appealing, and even when I do at times, I question how long can I remain here? I am very aware of how short life can be. I am convinced I am a spiritual being, and although I have my struggles, I am trying my level best to be Krishna conscious, and encourage everyone, especially devotees, to stay the course of a lifetime. Krisha and His lila are so attractive, and I am enivened to read about and hear it from advanced devotees. Someday, I will enter into it. Hare Krishna!

Question about chanting and happiness

I have received a few questions,and sent answers, which I will post as comments.

1st question: Kara: I was JUST asking someone the other day WHEN I would start feeling during chanting. You know, chant and be happy? hasn't happened.

My reply: Well Kara, we also chant and are unhappy...at least the highest devotees, though blissful, lament their fallen condition, or feel intense separation from Krishna and chant and cry, as did Shri Chaitanya. Personally, I like chanting, but as of yet don't love it--sometimes i do, but mostly I go on the strength of dedication and duty, and I know it is like not to chant! Even though I do it as a duty, I feelly talk to Krishna as I look at our Deities. It helps me to remember such prayers as I have shared...my most frequent one is: "Please help me...save me! Let me be a real devotee!" For some of us it is more difficult than others to really have an experience when chanting. That is one reason, Prabhupada had us very busy doing service, as that purifies us so we can more enter into the mood of chanting.

There are many practices that can help our chanting, like chanting early in the morning, really endeavoring to hear the mantra and not give the mind's thoughts any energy, creating a sacred space in our house, sitting in one place and not allowing the mind to wander. Chanting is mediation, and requires a meditative mood.

Although we used to almost yell the mantra, and walk vigorously back and forth (because our minds were so crazy), sitting or at least alternating between sitting and standing really helps one focus on the sound. Then we can chant a round and read a verse about the holy name, or say our own pray for help etc. Or we can sing the mantra for awhile, and then get back to chanting. Experiment. WE have to remind ourselves what are doing, what the mantra is, and why we are chanting, remembering our difficult situation in the material world, and that no one, gets out alive (physically speaking). Kara, it is a lifetime of endeavor, and we have to know the goal and gradually learn and want the goal, and as you know, good association or chanting buddies help. I am sending you your beads tomorrow, so perhaps you can create some chanting association.