Today is the last day of chanting two lakhs for this week and so it is time to count the chickens and reflect on recent developments.
It turns our chanting 128 rounds or roughly two lakhs is easier than it seemed before. Somehow time had freed up here and there and I’m hardly even under pressure to complete this new daily quota.
Maybe it’s my material interests retreating so I don’t feel the need to waste time on trivial pursuits anymore. That would be a good thing, of course, or perhaps it’s Krishna shifting my schedule around so that I can keep up with my promises. Come to think of it, the second explanation is probably even more pretentious than the first.
There were no major breakthroughs but I had observed two major developments, not sure if they are for the better, though.
Ever since I realized a couple of days ago (again..) that the only moving force behind any progress is the sound of the Holy Name my attitude and approach to chanting has changed yet again. I can’t concentrate anymore the way I did before. There was time when I could manually force my mind to listen to the names for at least one round without any deviations. There was time when I could maintain a reasonable level of concentration for hours. Not anymore.
Forceful attempts are no more accepted, they just don’t work.
I think I can explain it if I assume I made progress. First I realized that my desire to reach Krishna via chanting and listening that gave me strength previously is actually false, it’s coming from my false ego and it’s directed toward my false ego satisfaction. As long as I identify myself with my body all my desires are sourced from thirst for either sense enjoyment or liberation.
A few weeks ago I had a momentary lapse of reason, so it seems, when I clearly saw that I’m not this body and ever since then I can’t wholeheartedly subscribe to any urges coming from either my body or my mind. That’s why I can’t harness any more strength to summon Krishna with every mantra, nor can I summon strength to renounce my thoughts and impulses.
That is due to another realization – renunciation is a sign of impersonalism. Impersonalists see this world and all its phenomena as illusion that must be ignored, that hardens their hearts to devotional service. That’s why renunciation is not listed amond sixty four limbs of devotional service in Bhakti-Rasamrita-Sindhu or Nectar of Devotion. We practice yukta vairagya instead – take everything from this world and engage it in Krishna’s service.
Practically it meant for me that I shouldn’t punish myself by banning thoughts and ideas from my head or my heart. There’s another reason for this – by suppressing these desires I might fool myself that I don’t have them anymore. Suppression doesn’t remove the roots of the desires and while it might work for a while there’s always a danger of falling down and Krishna Himself said that this jnana yoga is a very very difficult path. Even more so in Kali Yuga.
The only way to deal with the desires is by cleansing the heart itself and that is done by loving devotional service – the heart must be soft and receptive. For me it means more chanting. As, yet unmanifested, interest in Krishna arises in the heart all other desires naturally disappear.
That’s what I’m doing at the moment – the natural way. As soon as I spot something unwanted in my head I chant at it and it goes away. Usually a few mantras is enough.
Some people had this gift right from the start but it took me many many years to develop it to the point of any reliability.
It works this week, btw, it might not work next week. I hope if that happens it will be replaced by something better.
So this problem – wandering mind, has been somehow addressed. Next goal is to develop taste for chanting. I catch myself again and again counting the hours and minutes to the next break. Chanting is still something I have to do, even force myself to do, though admittedly it’s much easier now than before.
I want counting the hours and minutes and wishing they run slower instead. Sometimes it happens with ordinary pleasures – no one wants the end of the holidays, especially school holidays if you are kid, if you are a parent you probably can’t wait to offload the offspring to someone else’s care.
People don’t normally count the hours till the end of the party, too. Some of them would never give up and pull all-nighters, drinking until the morning comes and they run out of batteries.
Somehow it doesn’t happen with my chanting and I wish it did. I know it’s a major step forward, probably irreversible, I might just as well ask for a Moon, but as long as I wish for mantra to end and something else to start I’m still like a hamster running in the wheel – I don’t move anywhere, it’s not devotion, it’s not service. At best it’s training for when the real thing comes at worst it’s an easy way to force God to provide for my enjoyment – I do my part, like a circus clown, and He supposed to send me a paycheck.
Another major development is the speed. This is something I didn’t expect and I don’t know if it’s a boon or a curse.
Every morning I start chanting at a nice and steady pace of six minutes per round, every syllable comes out crystal clear, but then, in half an hour or so, the speed goes up by itself. For about two or three hours I chant at five and a half minutes per round, but in the past two days it bumped up to five minutes straight. Pronunciation is still clear, though, so I’m not complaining.
Major speed boosts were initially observed in the afternoon but now that’s been spreading to the morning, too, and it’s started to seriously affect my pronunciation. I do not explicitly wish for it to happen but the rhythm and the flow come naturally and are impossible to break. At best I can chant a bit clearer. On some days I swear I was doing fifteen rounds an hour, four minutes per round.
Just like with everything else I decided to leave it the Holy Name itself but Krishna seems to be not interested in correcting me in any way. He apparently likes the speed.
The flow feels so natural that for days I didn’t even dare to record myself, considering it to be an interruption. Finally I did it though and sure enough – syllables in the recording aren’t any clearer as when I hear them myself. I don’t know what to do about it.
Looking at the rhythm I’m not missing anything, the sounds are not clear but I still spend time on saying them, I hear them in my mind, that would be okay if I was doing japa but technically, we are doing kirtan, not meditation in the mind.
Prabhupada’s japa wasn’t always clear either, sometimes it’s impossible to make out individual names and even sounds. All the maharajas, on the other hand, pronounce the names extremely clear.
What to do?
Leave it to Krishna, if it worries me and if it’s important He will be kind enough to eventually intervene.
The week is over, I won’t be speeding for the next two days, no reason to worry about the future, is there?