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Don't just do something, sit there!

This is the name of a clever title to a Buddhist book, turning the old saying, "Don't just sit there, do something", on its' head.

The implication of "don't just do something" is don't just run around in worldly pursuits with no idea of who you really are and no connection to God. The next part placed at the end, "sit there", means for us, sit there to chant Hare Krishna, and/or remember and meditate on Krishna.

We should be "busy" for Krishna, yet we have to be in the right consciousness, keeping always the goal in mind.

Our main process is to chant the holy name, remember Krishna, learn about his glories, develop a serving mood, and as a result of purification, develop---or really uncover--our love for him. In all other activities that we may perform we have to remember him, and dedicate the result for him. If possible while we engage in other services, we chant the holy name, which means remembering him.

The first three types of devotional services (hearing, chanting and remembering) are related: chanting the holy names implies that we hear it, which is meant to enable us to remember Krishna. Remembering Krishna and never forgetting him are the basis for all types of devotional service or Bhakti yoga.

In the beginning of the Hare Krishna movement, its' founder Shrila Prabhupada, asked his followers and disciples to chant 64 rounds on their beads. Though they couldn't do it, and his requirement for us was to chant AT LEAST 16 rounds, the fact that he obviously wanted us to chant 64 rounds is significant.

In Lord Chaitanya's Shikshastikam prayers, he said "krtaniyah sada harih", always chant the holy name of Krishna. His standard was 64 rounds, and Prabhupada's guru also established that number, unless one was busy for preaching work. We can certainly appreciate Prabhupadas' mercy to accept us while at the same time thinking deeply about the implications of Prabhupadas initial request to his disciples.

One sannyasi approached Prabhupada in Mayapur, India (ISKCON world headquarters, and the land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu). He told Prabhupada that he wanted to dedicate all his time just for chanting Hare Krishna. Prabhupada replied, "Try it". So this devotee engaged himself throughout the whole day in chanting his japa, or chanting Hare Krishna on beads. Prasadum or spiritual food was brought to him so he wouldn't have to worry about eating.

He began chanting 100 rounds a day for 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, and then his mind began to wonder, and he found himself wondering about the type of prasadum that would come that day and why it was cold, and he started sleeping more. Finally he went to Prabhupada, and said, "I can't chant all day", so Prabhupada said, "Preach for 10 years, and then see if you can do it".

So because we could not chant 64 rounds he had us very busy in preaching work and other services. Not that those activities are unimportant, but we have to put everything in perspective. The idea behind devotional service is to become purified. If we forget this and are just busy with no time for chanting, then we are in trouble, and may fall away from Krishna consciousness.

I direct you to the 12th chapter of Bhagavad gita for some perspective on this.

The first instruction there, is:

"Just fix your mind upon Me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in Me. Thus you will live in Me always, without a doubt."

"..If you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulations of Bhakti-yoga. In this way you will develop a desire to attain Me."

After this Krishna keeps going lower, saying if you can't do this then at least to that, so everyone will have a way to begin their spiritual life. Next, Krishna says if you can't engage in direct Bhakti yoga, then see your ordinary work as service to Krishna and give Krishna some of the fruits. If you can't do that then give up the results of your work to some pious cause, like a charity, hospitals etc., since that also purifies one. The last recommendation is to cultivate knowledge--though for most people giving up the results of our work is better.

Now even initiated devotees engage in all those recommended actions, while also trying to remember Krishna. The idea is be completed centered around the service of Krishna, and to revive our eternal nature as servants of Krishna. We also have to be under the guidance of a devotee, so we can know how to practically apply all the different instructions of the scriptures and great teachers (acharyas).

Progressive human life begins with material piety, then coming to understand about our identity as a soul, then understanding that this means we are part of God, and ultimately that our eternal "svarupa" or nature is to serve Krishna. If we keep this in mind, then will know how to be engaged and to engage others in beneficial activities, according to a person's capacity.

In addition, we can see the value of the many different paths and religions of the world, while appreciating the supreme value of understanding God in his most confidential and loving feature as Krishna, and especially Lord Chaitanya.