Chanting & Hare Krishna Mantra
Many devotees have asked this same question of Srila Prabhupada and other senior devotees. At the beginning of our chanting, we have a sincere desire to explore the chanting. We begin to chant on the inspiration of the spiritual master and other devotees and we are deeply inclined to "do it right."
This fresh, simple mentality usually offers some "taste" or inclination to chant carefully. We feel focused, enlivened, and concerned with chanting carefully and attentively. However, at the beginning stages of sadhana (spiritual practice) we mostly chant out of duty, on the order of guru, and whatever taste we experience is secondary. We have material desires and we're not really convinced chanting alone will make us happy. We chant in the morning but throughout the day our mind is attracted to millions of other things.
As we progress, often we become more causal about the chanting. We expect that very quickly we'll see Krishna everywhere. When that's not the case, we become discouraged or mechanical about the chanting. It's difficult to focus the mind, yet we are compelled by the order of guru and the deep knowledge that chanting is what we have to do to purify ourselves and eventually get to know Krishna.
As we progress further, and the heart becomes more pure, we begin to become free from unwanted things within the heart. Our chanting becomes deeper and our longing to understand Krishna through His name becomes more pure and sincere. Our desires for material things decrease. We become more focused. We begin to realize that the Holy Name has everything that we want, and that true happiness can only come from chanting Hare Krishna!
From this point, we truly begin in earnest to chant the Holy Name. More and more, we begin to relish the chanting itself. We actually begin to develop a deep attraction for the holy Name that compels us to continue chanting.
I suggest that you read Nectar of Instruction written originally by Srila Rupa Goswami and translated by Srila Prabhupada. This will help you understand the process further.
I hope this is helpful.
Thanks for your question.
This is a very common dilemma. Generally, devotees go through times when it's difficult to chant, and the mind becomes restless. It's important to just keep chanting. Try to chant in the early morning - no phones, no sounds, just a few pictures and a peaceful atmosphere.
Feeling guilty won't help, but being determined and enthusiastic to improve will be very helpful. Depending where you live, you may be able to attend one of the many japa retreats being held at various places. Also, there is an online japa (personal chanting) conference every Saturday morning which you can find out about via Krishna.com and perhaps you can attend that.
Association of devotees who are serious about chanting can be very helpful in improving your japa.
I hope this is helpful.
Hare Krishna! Thanks for your question. Actually the most important thing when chanting the maha mantra is to hear the mantra. Other feelings and thoughts will come naturally as we begin to hear the Mantra and relate deeply to the Lord as He appears in His Holy Name. It is not necessary to try to feel or think about anything. Just chant and hear.
According to Lord Chaitanya the most important feeling ultimately, is humility. When one is thinking himself lower than the straw in the street, more tolerant than the tree, offering all respects to others, wanting none for himself/herself, in such a state of mind one can chant the Holy Name constantly. So considering that one is a tiny soul, in a vast and complicated universe and that each soul really has no control of anything except his/her ability to worship the Lord will help us to remain humble and sincerely call out to Krishna to accept us!
I hope this is helpful.
How will I know if my chanting is bringing me closer to Krishna? How long does it take to become Krishna conscious?
You can see that the chanting is helping you come closer to the Supreme when you see that your mind and senses are coming under control. When you see that you are less attracted to material things, or less frequently hankering and lamenting over material success or failure, then you can know that the chanting is bringing you closer to Krishna. Gradually you will develop a taste for chanting. You will long for the time and a peaceful place to chant His Name. You'll come to feel His presence and aspire to engage in his service.
How long this takes is up to you. How carefully you follow the process, what you eat, who you associate with, what you do when you're not chanting, will all affect how quickly you can perceive success. For example, let's say you have a disease. Your doctor gives you a diet, some medicine, and tells you to do some exercise. If you take the medicine now and again, ignore the exercise and diet, and wonder, "how fast will I get well?" the answer is "probably not very fast." You have to do it all to really be cured. So the time frame is in your hands.
Seek out good association, good opportunities to read and study the sastra (scriptures), good service, avoid eating tamasic and rajasic foods (foods in the modes of passion and ignorance), eat only prasad (food offered to Krishna), chant your rounds in the morning in a good place, free from distractions. All this things will maximize the speed of the effect. Good luck!
All the best!
Fortunately, the Hare Krishna mantra works whether we believe in it or not. We don't have to understand or believe in medicine for it to work, and the science of chanting Hare Krishna is subtler than any chemical process. It has a profoundly beneficial effect on the consciousness, whether or not one is aware of the science at all. Try it and see.