A few days ago while chanting my japa my mind urged me to take a small break, make important phone calls, and get back to chanting. Initially I ignored these proposals, but soon my mind’s assertion became stronger.
The more I refused to listen to my mind, the more it got aggressive and I was miserable. To an external observer, I was ‘peacefully’ chanting my japa in the temple hall but internally I was exhausted by the struggle to concentrate. I could hardly focus on the Holy Names as my mind yelled that this phone call can’t wait. “It’s now; get up. Go, call Jigar and get the thing sorted before it’s too late”. I almost got up to rush to the errand, but remembered what I had resolved a few minutes ago. I had decided that I wouldn’t leave my chanting or the temple hall till I complete my sixteen rounds. But this issue seemed so urgent that I had to get up. But what about my resolve? “That’s later”, the mind said, “today you have to get this done before you chant”. Somehow I stuck to my chanting and could feel the constant beating by the mind. I felt so weak and tiny. Yet I continued because I had promised myself and Krishna that I would chant my sixteen rounds before I attend to anything else. And fortunately I had kept my mobile phone in the room. If it was with me, I’d have surely called Jigar or maybe fingered the phone constantly, and got distracted in my chanting. I felt a sense of victory over my mind but the mind was not going to give up easily.
As I continued moving the beads, and tried to listen to the syllables of the Hare Krishna maha mantra, the mind reminded me how one person had defamed me. “How dare he hurt me”, asked the mind, “I need to teach him a good lesson” Again I got lost. Fortunately a few minutes later I realized I was again misled by constant ramblings in the mind’s imaginary world. Again I pulled up and applied myself on praying and listening. Soon the mind escaped my grip, and yet another issue, then another person, and then another event and so on.
Finally when I completed my sixteen rounds, my mind said, “Run. It’s time for lunch” I rushed and caught up with a friend. After lunch I had a meeting to attend, and then someone came to meet me. Finally the sun set and I retired for the day.
The next morning as I sat for japa, once again the mind said, “You need to call up Jigar. It’s urgent”
“What the hell”, I screamed at my mind, “Yesterday, it was so important for you but after japa, the whole day you didn’t remind me about it, and today just when I am chanting again, you think it needs to be addressed.”
I had learnt an important lesson. Never trust the mind’s so called urgent and important things to do. It’s a desperate attempt to prevent me from surrendering to Krishna and let me keep the illusion of being in control of this world. Let go and live free! Remember Krishna is the Supreme controller. At least while chanting, just remember to listen to the Holy Names, and take out sometime during rest of the day to plan important things. But surely the japa time is not for planning or getting even with others. It’s time to explore our personal relationship with Krishna.
The thing that really helped me that day was making a personal promise to Krishna. I had promised I would chant and just as I began my chanting, my mind made desperate attempts to break my promise. But Krishna gave me the remembrance and also the strength to keep my word. Certainly it’s a humbling experience to realize we are tiny in front of the formidable mind. Yet it’s also a happy experience because the mere fact that we are aware of our mind’s whims is empowering.
And when we turn to Krishna, our japa becomes meaningful and sweet. That’s when you realize that humility is a sweet gift of Krishna, especially if we sincerely resolve to make chanting our number one priority. If good chanting is our goal we’d soon discover the enemies of mind and ego that block our path to Krishna. And that discovery is truly a humbling, yet happy experience.