I saw a movie one time that was the life story of the great American singer, Johnny Cash. Almost everyone knows who Johnny Cash is because he is so famous. Johnny Cash (1932-2003) is considered to be one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century.
This movie about his life told the story of the event that occurred that changed him from being just another mediocre gospel singer, one of thousands, into the legend that he became.
The only thing that ever actually belongs to any of us is our free will.
Free will means making choices. We always have choices about everything.
We chose what we do, what we think, how we spend out time, who we spend our time with. We chose what things to put our energy into, and what things are a waste of our time.
All of our lives are these constant choices.
Sometimes people get into a state of mind where they forget that they are constantly making choices. They say "well, I had no choice" .... usually followed by "therefore I had to" .... such and such.
Because we are in a conditioned state of existence we have no real desire to surrender to Krishna. In the same way, we have no real desire to surrender to the Holy Name while we are chanting Japa.
We fight and struggle with chanting in our efforts to surrender to Krishna, to surrender to His Holy Name.
While going through my email this morning I found the most beautiful letter from someone and it reminded me of this simple basic fact:
You meet the nicest people around Krishna.
This gentleman was someone that my husband and I became acquainted with during a devotional service project we were engaged in. I didn't really know him all that well, but he seemed like a nice person.
It takes a lot of determination for devotees to chant daily rounds of japa on their beads.
Some of us are just at the point where we are beginning to think about getting some japa beads, and starting to see about chanting rounds.
Some of us have beads, and we are maybe chanting a round or two.
Some devotees are committed to chanting a certain amount of rounds every day.
Others are chanting 16 rounds every day, and still others are working on improving those 16 rounds so they are the very best quality of japa.
All of this takes a lot of determination.
Recently, I have been teaching myself to do needlepoint tapestries. My goal is to one day make these as pictures of Krishna and His various pastimes. In the meantime, however, because I am teaching myself, I have to do whatever projects I can manage.
Anyone who knows needlework, knows that any type takes a lot of patience.
Recently one of the talks I gave in The Japa Room was about the purification process of chanting the Maha Mantra.
I am sharing one of the quotes I used here for anyone who is not able to come to The Japa Room.
Everybody wants a solution to some problem they have. We are all looking for solutions to this difficulty or that difficulty.
Since the material world is full of all kinds of difficulties, there is no end to this search for solutions.
It's fine to want to find solutions to problems that make it hard for us to advance in spiritual life, but sometimes we can get so caught up in the various possible "solutions" that we lose track of the real purpose, namely making spiritual advancement.
When my niece was 14 years old (she's a much more mature 15 now :) we got into an argument about something she was doing that was bothering me.
I told her so, and I really was not as nice about it as I usually am, since it involved something that was very important to me, and I wanted to be firm.
So, of course she was really upset, because she had never heard me talk that way to her (or anyone else).
So, she said to me:
"I sure hope you're alright cause you don't sound like you are!"
People are too hung up on this concept of "keeping everything relaxed" and "keeping everyone happy"
Sometimes people need a little dose of MEDICINE and it's not always pleasant.
No normal Doctor you go to will tell you "yes, I will cure your disease, and I will make certain you will feel very comfortable during the entire surgery and you will always feel and think I am really nice and friendly, and nothing will ever make you feel offended".