Time and time again various senior devotees remind us to listen very very carefully to the Holy Names while chanting japa. One of the favorite metaphors is comparing us to housekeepers awaiting an important guest.
We are expecting some very very important guest to arrive and we put our house in order, prepare everything he might need and sit there, eagerly awaiting. Then, when the guest actually arrives, we wonder off to the room somewhere in the back and engage in some petty mundane stuff, like checking e-mails or texting, without paying any attention to our visitor.
This is not the way to treat our guests and the metaphor works fairly well as everybody understands and relates to this kind of situation. I guess this metaphor helped quite a few devotees to keep their minds on chanting japa.
There’s another way to look at it, however, and it might turn out not so benefitial to our spiritual lives.
I mean the situation itself – we are sitting here, waiting for Krishna in the form of the Holy Name to arrive. Well, knowing myself, it won’t be “any minute now”, so there’s a hidden incentive to slack off and check the phone, but that is not what I really have in mind.
In real life, not the one we perceive under the illusion of maya, Krishna is already here. It’s the wrong assumption that He is not in the form of the Holy Name now but will arrive some time later. This is what the metaphor implies, after all.
The fact is that He is already in our house but we are still not paying attention, and the fact is also that no matter how hard we try to pay attention we won’t see or hear or sense Him in any way of form. This is true for most of us most of the time.
That doesn’t mean that we should stop trying, of course, that’s an entirely different topic, but for now we should rethink our approach to chanting if we find out that this particular metaphor has got deep into our subconscious and influenced the way we chant. I know it influenced me on more than one occasion.
Bottom line – we are not here waiting for Krishna to arrive, it’s quite the opposite – He is already here waiting for us to take Him seriously. Also the Holy Name is not just a hollow sound waiting for Krishna to fill it with knowledge and bliss, every Name we ever utter is already filled with all transcendental powers to the brim.
Why do we not feel it so? That’s the thought for another day.