Struggles and Steadiness in Japa
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Will I survive or perish?
Fighting for each step
on the road of cleansing —
howling wind-spirits push me
flaming tongues burn my feet
the abyss beneath beckons
lusty beings offer temptations
demons create obstructions
relief is promised if I give up.
Grasping the sword of Truth
I move the demons backward
ignoring obstacles surrounding me
slowly progressing toward freedom
if only I can stay awake
keeping faith and determination
wiping the sweat from my hand
will the simmering sword slip?,
yet grace repeatedly saves me
the holy name cloaks and guides
blessing me to take another step.
Traveling the universe by each bead
in the distance the Divine Couple
reminding me of the Supreme Goal
a stark contrast to worldly obtainments
giving strength to stay the course
as even a glimpse of devotion
surpasses an ocean of ignorance.
I dedicate myself to chanting
one mantra at a time:
one breath, one moment
one hour, one day
one week, one month
one year, one life—
giving them all to Krishna,
like stairs to Goloka.
My chanting struggles are reflections
of small daily life challenges:
Even after 43 years
I must continually choose
whether to pamper my selfishness
or engage in devotional activities
since Krishna isn’t my default setting
so sometimes I choose wrongly
becoming absorbed in foolishness
and yet I remain on the path
knowing I only fail if I give up—
just as I must eat and sleep
so I commit to the holy name.
Everyone’s unfolding varies
a flower blooms in its own time
a journey begins with each step
the [prema] fruit is in the bud
the bud is in the beads
moved by the maha mantra
I recommit daily, accepting struggle
though I slip, I continue rising
remembering my life’s work.
Change your angle of vision
see your inner conflict differently
it’s the sacred fight for awakening
within it, our Guru(s) and Krishna—
so many don’t even try, take heart—
even a feeble attempt’s never lost
Krishna carries our lack, gives strength,
don’t accept mediocrity or stagnation:
regroup, refine, rekindle, make progress
as we’ll become our highest ideal.
My armor, regular sadhana and prayer
my supporting staff, saintly company
keeping me in the bhakti process
hearing and chanting together
helping one another keep on
praying to give our heart and soul
confident we will be successful
retiring our worldly desires
both by hearing and experience
a process of letting go inessentials
burning everything away except love [prema].
Once a month we have a japa day where we join together with other devotees to chant japa for six hours, and then to share our realizations, struggles, and successes. Some chant 64 rounds that day, but the point is to increase our purpose to increase our spiritual consciousness. By our life and this day, we endeavor our best to please our gurus, and Shri Chaitanya, who has brought us the medicine of the holy name to cure the disease of worldliness. When our soul wakes up, all our problems are solved. The above free verse poem has gradually come to me over the last few days. As in all my writing, it is my small attempt to share with my readers, and encourage you to either begin the process of chanting, again take it up, or help you to persevere. Find support and fellowship on your journey. Stay the course. Give this one life to Krishna.