“Need for Speed” is a racing game on Android phones and tablets. My phone can’t handle it, though, too old, but the name is catchy and I have my own need for speed, too, so there.
This week there were couple of days when I was under time pressure. On Monday I came short eleven rounds so on Tuesday I was taking no prisoners.
Mornings are always mellow for me, slower than the rest of the day, especially the first sixteen rounds, so I concentrated on proper pronunciation, trying to drill my tongue and mouth to make all the necessary movements and don’t miss a syllable when the speed gradually increases. It worked like magic, I tried stressing two or three names that I think I skip when I chant faster, I was getting them right and the movement was smooth and natural.
I did the first sixteen, then the second – speed was steady five minutes a round, if I extrapolated it on the rest of the day I was cutting it close but, as usual, I’m not really in charge of the speed, if I force myself to chant faster I start making all kinds of mistakes, so I waited.
I’m not in control, I was telling myself, if Krishna so desires I will chant whole day like this and if there are only a few rounds left I’ll finish them when everyone goes to sleep. I practically resigned to this outcome.
Then the speed just went up. In a space of an hour or so the mood changed, the flow has become much smoother and faster, I got into a different state of mind, relaxed but moving at a brisk speed. It eventually settled at fifteen rounds per hour – four minutes per round.
There wasn’t much I could do, and time was short, so I went along with it.
On Wednesday I started with even more attention on pronunciation, I realized that it’s my only chance to practice before afternoon avalanche, and, sure enough, it came, even earlier than I expected. From forty rounds up it was already at sixteen rounds per hour, too fast, but also incredibly smooth.
Unlike fast chanting before I could actually sit back and relax, I didn’t have to keep myself constantly moving to maintain the rhythm. I also could afford stressing any particular group of names if I so desired without losing a bit.
The biggest worry at this speed is, of course, pronunciation, it invariably suffers, yet there are two clashing phenomena that still keep me unsettled.
First, of course, is a blur of sounds, I can make out only a couple of shnas and a ram of two, the rest is unintelligible. Second is the fact that I still can enunciate the words if I want to, without losing speed. It requires a bit of an extra effort and it’s difficult to maintain for longer than few mantras at a time but it works. Which tells me that I AM saying all the words, they just don’t come out clear.
In the afternoon yesterday, and again today, the speed went up even further. Somewhere just over three minutes per round. This is just crazy. I can walk, I can sit, I can do little things around the house like closing windows when the rain starts, I can even lie down on a sofa – the speed hardly ever drops.
If I try I can make out each syllable at this speed but it is significantly harder, most of the time I just listen, and what I hear isn’t very pretty. I wonder what I get from this “chanting” when my mind goes away, and there are plenty of very long periods like this. If the mind is with me it at least follows the words internally, when it’s away and I’m chanting slowly I at least can hear the names even if not paying attention.
When I’m going at a neck breaking speed and my mind veers off – what benefits are left there? There aren’t even distinguishable words and names to get at least partial benefits.
I’ve made a recording of myself and played it at 40% slower. Good news – the mantra is still there, the only difficult to make out part is “Hare Hare” after “Krishna Krishna”. There are two words there, I can see them on the waveform, but they are not exactly like Hare Hare, my tongue doesn’t come close enough to the palate to make a clear “r”.
There’s also a unclear bit with “Rama Rama” but that is the legacy of that incident long time ago when I tried chanting along with Prabhupada recording, when my mouth simply refused to mouth out “Rama Rama”. I went into “Prabhupada therapy” with that problem and came out with a new way to say “Rama Rama”, with less clear “r” as well. It saved me then but I knew it would come back to bite me, and it has.
At that time I thought it was divine intervention and I have not reason to doubt it now. Yes, there’s a problem with pronunciation and clarity but I’m trying to estimate the damage and find working solutions.
Slowing down seems as difficult as enunciating the words, better practice in the morning helps, as I observed some improvements over the past couple of days. Ultimately, though, I leave it Krishna.
Maybe I’m totally under the spell of some illusions, illusions about “flow” and illusions about Krishna being in control of such degenerate as myself. Maybe I should swallow a bitter pill and force myself to chant clearly, maybe I shouldn’t worry about completing all two lakhs everyday. Maybe I should concentrate on quality and quantity for now. Maybe, BUT…
I do not control speed as much as I want to. The mantra just flows faster by itself, even when I really start to worry about side effects and when there’s no time pressure whatsoever. It just won’t slow down. I figure that as long as I’m chanting and making sincere efforts Krishna will give me intelligence and the ability to overcome my problems. Maybe He’ll give enough courage to break the flow, snap out of it, and start chanting at a reasonable five-six minutes per round.
I’m not against this solution, I just need a nudge and maybe some assurances as it will certainly lead to less Names being chanted.
Ah, whatever, I’m trying the best I can, tomorrow and on Saturday I think I got a real chance at doing three hundred thousands Names, I don’t feel the rush to complete them, though, when I think of quality I first of all think of the presence of my mind, it needs to be with me. Pronunciation comes second. Faster chanting means less leeway for my mind, among other things. It works to a certain degree, as I get more comfortable the mind gets more freedom, too.
It’s way too complicated for me now. I’ll just keep chanting and hope Krishna will help and correct me. That’s my strategy.