Enthusiasm is the key to find spiritual joy while chanting. A mechanical approach to Bhakti Yoga involves simply the external fingering of beads, and a ritualistic murmuring of the Holy Names. This makes spirituality in general a dry affair and the process of chanting Hare Krishna, in particular, appears dull and boring. Enthusiasm breaks the jinx of listless and unemotional endeavours, and makes spiritual life refreshing. To the extent a chanter is eager to attract God’s blessings to that extent one invests his or her feelings into the chanting.
The need for being enthusiastic also arises due to the mind’s repeated tendency to throw up our past conditionings and suck our enthusiasm through a barrage of negative thoughts. Enthusiasm is also not to be restricted to the one to two hours of practise of Hare Krishna meditation. We can’t be lethargic and unresponsive to spiritual vibrations throughout the day and suddenly switch over to be enthusiastic during the chanting session. It just won’t work. Being enthusiastic is a culture that has to be imbibed in all aspects of our spiritual life.
But what if I don’t feel enthusiastic? “Act enthusiastically”, suggests Radhanath Swami. But isn’t that artificial? “No”, Radhanath Swami reassures, “if we act with eagerness to serve Krishna, to hear about Krishna, to chant Krishna’s name, and to be with Krishna’s devotees, that is the sign of our sincerity. And that eagerness will melt Krishna’s heart.” This profound wisdom contains the secret of success in spiritual life. Success on the path of Bhakti Yoga is all about attracting Lord’s grace, and this grace is independent of our plans to advance on the spiritual path. Grace showers on us by God’s free will. The only thing we can do is be enthusiastic in our practise, and pray to Krishna to accept our offering of chanting.
It’s easy to practise the Hare Krishna yoga when we feel enthusiastic and happy. But spiritual life is not simply about ‘feelings’; it’s also a life of serious responsibility. Our actual test of sincerity is how we respond when we don’t ‘feel’ enthusiastic while practising the Hare Krishna yoga. That’s when we show Krishna whether we are practising the process for our own selfish satisfaction or for His pleasure. If we feel happiness and enthusiasm while chanting, that’s not so much love because everyone likes to do what makes them happy and enthusiastic. But when we are willing to chant with the same enthusiasm, even if the heart feels like a dry desert with no emotion at all, we are showing Krishna that we are serious practitioners. And that pleases Krishna to shower His grace unlimitedly.
Radhanath Swami warns the practitioners of Hare Krishna yoga to be careful and not seek respect and honour for being enthusiastic. We can’t pretend to be advanced practitioners by our enthusiasm; we are enthusiastic so that God is pleased by our efforts. Our goal is not to pretend to be enthusiastic for some material benefits, but show enthusiasm till we become enthusiastic. As Radhanath Swami once quipped, “fake it till you make it”.