Following a rather uneventful Monday I’m left wondering if chanting so much is working for me at all. I need proof. Or maybe I don’t.
It is kind of frustrating to look at my current state of consciousness and see no improvements at all, that’s not what I was expecting. A couple of months ago I was so excited about an opportunity to chant so many rounds, I cleared my schedule in advance, I was really looking forward to it, I was full of anticipation.
Now I do it everyday and it’s become a rather dull affair. I can’t deny looking forward to lunch and then the evening with the family, I can’t deny that I’m glad I have chores to do so that I can take my mind off chanting for a bit and work with my hands. The worst part is that while I’m dusting the shelves or sweeping the floor I’m still counting my beads. The worst part is that I consciously move chanting to the back of my mind because I’m so sick of it, I guess.
So is it working?
A while ago I was absolutely sure that it was and, on some level, I’m still sure it does but I doubt it’s the progress in the right direction. I need real proof but all I got is transformations happening with my body and mind – the body of proof it isn’t.
Take speed – if one repeats the same tongue twister again and again he would eventually master it and can dazzle his friends with his new skill. If I manage to chant my rounds faster it’s the same effect, there’s nothing spiritual about it, it doesn’t count. I still marvel at how other devotees, notably maharajas on my downloaded recordings, seem to take each mantra, each Name so seriously. They are really meditating on Krishna there. I’m just mumbling something to myself while looking for excuses to think of something else.
There were also a few “special” realizations, like that time I really felt I wasn’t my body. Two things to bring me down from that high horse. First, I don’t see myself as such anymore, it just doesn’t come back. Second, it might not have had anything to do with spiritual progress at all. Yes, even namabhasa brings liberation and liberation means not seeing himself as a material body but I bet there are plenty of other, mundane techniques to achieve the same effect, too, like transcendental meditation or something.
Hare Krishna mantra is a very powerful tool, it can grant all kinds of things – remove anxieties, bring peace, it can excite and it can provide any kind of sensual enjoyment possible, it can bring yoga siddhis, it can bring liberation, it can do everything, and most of these things could be disruptive on the path of developing devotional service. So what if one can see himself as not the body, it has absolutely no value on its own. The only thing that matters is seeing oneself as a servant of Krishna and vaishnavas and I didn’t see that. So there – useless.
Also the fact that this particular realization doesn’t come back anymore might be a sign that it was just one of my mood swings, nothing more. Our real progress in our real devotional lives cannot just disappear. We can become rich or poor and the next moment we can become ill or famous – all these things come and go like the waves in the sea. One day we are extremely intelligent and perceptive, another day we are dumb and demented, one day we hover above the floor like Maharishi Mahesh yogi, next day we hover above a pile of dung as flies. None of it matters.
If, on the other hand, we manage to get accepted as Krishna’s servants we will never ever go back. Maybe we’ll have temporary setbacks due to the influence of the material nature and our impure hearts but that achievement is impossible to compromise. Krishna will always preserve it for us, He promised.
So, when I look at the signs of my real progress I can’t see any at all. I haven’t become more absorbed in Krishna, I haven’t developed the taste for chanting or for service, I haven’t gained any acceptance – I got nothing.
I probably have to admit that I was driven by the mode of passion, I didn’t care for the process at all, I wanted quick results, and now, when I’m not getting any, I’m naturally losing interest.
This coming Saturday I think I’ll get a chance to chant three lakhs of names, three sets of sixty-four rounds, and I can’t help but notice the difference in anticipation levels now and two-three months ago.
Okay, I know what happened, there’s an explanation, the real question is how to move forward now, when the passion has gone? What should I do?
Ideally I should elevate myself to the level of goodness and enjoy every step of the way but I can’t get there artificially. If I don’t like getting up early in the morning I can’t fake it.
Am I caught in the gap where passion has already worn off but the goodness hasn’t kicked in yet? Afaik, sacrifices in the mode of goodness do not feel great in the beginning but once one acquires taste for it one feels extremely satisfied without even caring for the results. I was hoping that the push of passion would help get past that initial aversion. Apparently it wasn’t enough.
Should I cheer myself up with some new, temporary and illusory visions of success and hope they will carry me to the point where I won’t need them anymore to chant? Sounds great but there are dangers in stocking passion, too. Those fires might die out in one place but the heart will still want the rush and so will look for them elsewhere.
This is what is happening to me now – since I’m no more excited about chanting I’m starting to get excited about all kinds of other things, I’m actually looking to get excited, I’ll take anything.
I know that it won’t bring me any satisfaction, like scratching an insect bite but, just like an itchy bite, it’s impossible to stop oneself.
In this situation it is probably better to get excited about something at least related to Krishna, and that brings me to the possibility of me giving up the chanting and taking up some other service instead, a service that fully occupies my hands and my mind. If I’m doing my extra rounds thinking about what to do with myself I’m not doing it right.
Does that signal the end of my experiment? Maybe, but I’m not going to give up so easily.
The Name itself is perfectly capable of solving all these problems for me. All I have to do is to keep chanting and never miss a chance to be sincere about it.
Actually, I do not need any proof that it works, I just have to keep going at it on faith alone, maybe even against all evidence to the contrary. That kind of strong faith should separate the logical path of my self-benefit and the selfless and causeless devotion.
Yeah, devotion is causeless, isn’t it? Its benefits can’t be rationally explained to other people, if you being totally honest about it in your presentation they are not going to accept it, not unless you are a pure devotee yourself.
Here’s a possible topic for tomorrow – what’s in it for myself?