Yes, the mind is all powerful. Yet we have a choice to either allow the mind to wander everywhere or at least desire to chant attentively. The Lord has given us the independence to desire purely through our free will. If we exercise the free will to chant attentively, we please Krishna. Even if we are unable to pull the mind back to hearing the sound vibrations, we can at least constantly desire to chant attentively. This nursing of a healthy desire to be sincere, eventually leads us to chant attentively.
If our chanting session has gone bad, we could drift into two extremes. One extreme is we become morose at our inability to chant well; this leads to hopelessness in spiritual life and makes us more negative and cynical about spiritual life. The second extreme is to justify our bad chanting by resigning to the fact that the mind is beyond our control, and there’s nothing we can do about our poor japa. This justification leads us to reject good counsel and we don’t progress in our Hare Krishna meditation. We may eventually even blame the process for its ineffectiveness and resign to the fact that God has made me this way- poor in controlling the mind- and there’s nothing I can do to improve my situation against the barrage of attacks by the mind.
Radhanath Swami says blaming God for our weak resolve is unacceptable. At the same time sometimes when our chanting is good we are tempted to take credit for our good chanting and feel we are special. However no sooner we feel we are good in chanting, the Holy Names withdraw the grace and we realize once again that chanting is beyond me. Radhanath Swami offers a nice meditation that we can practise during success in chanting, “We can’t do anything without God’s help. We cannot see or even breathe without God’s help. So how could we take credit for what we do?” A premature understanding of this philosophy leads us to blame God for our bad chanting as well; ascribing our weak resolve to God’s desire that we don’t make progress.
As sincere Hare Krishna chanters we have to know that we are responsible for our poor chanting. We’ve to remember the instructions that the Lord gives us in all scriptures; He’s told us what He wants us to do. Yet when we refuse to obey His order and don’t endeavour to break the jinx of lethargy or mechanical chanting, we are guilty of neglecting God’s order. Then it’s our fault. Radhanath Swami gives a nice example to illustrate the point, “Suppose your mother gives you one million dollars and tells you to give it in charity. But you use that money to buy drugs instead, and then try to make ten million by selling that. Somehow you get caught and you are brought to the judge. The judge gives you thirty years of imprisonment. Then, you can’t say, “I am not the doer, my mother is the doer. Because it wasn’t my money, it was her money.” Similarly God has given us the free will and also told us through the scriptures and holy saints what he wants us to do with the free will. By resigning to our ‘fate’ and not endeavouring hard in spiritual life, we are guilty of misusing the wealth of ‘free will’ that the Lord has mercifully given us.
The ideal way to deal with the bad chanting session is by reaffirming our resolve to chant attentively. We beg forgiveness for the bad japa and then pray to the Lord for giving us the determination to pull the mind back the next time we sit to chant the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra.
Over a period of time this constant desiring to improve our chanting helps us translate the desire into action. Until then we chant with faith, and practise the process with patience and determination.