The mind has many tricks up its sleeve. The mind’s restless tantrums become obvious when we sit down to chant peacefully in a quiet place. No sooner we begin the meditation session, the mind runs riot. A Hare Krishna yogi feels helpless on discovering his inability to rein in this wild associate, whom he can neither divorce nor force to cooperate.
The first step is to honestly accept our puny condition, and be humble. A moment of candid admission to Krishna about our fallen condition is a major victory on our spiritual journey. Radhanath Swami often reveals his guru, Srila Prabhupada’s humility in offering prayers to Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada, a pure chanter of the Holy Names of Krishna, had been a devout Bhakti Yogi practitioner since childhood. Yet he was humble to acknowledge that our minds are not in our control and he prayed to Krishna to protect him from falling down to maya, illusion. Radhanath Swami points out that if a pure devotee of God can offer prayers for protection, how can we be in illusion about our spiritual position and ever think we are advanced. Therefore the first step in dealing with the mind is to be humble about our fragile condition and turn to God for protection. “If a sick man is too proud to take medicine, he will remain sick forever”, says Radhanath Swami, “ The Holy Names of Krishna is the medicine to bring us back to our natural spiritually healthy condition where we can experience Krishna at all times, and everywhere.”
What are the symptoms of one who has indeed learnt to tactfully cope with his wandering mind? Such a chanter will actually experience the presence of God at all times, and his heart would be filled with spiritual joy; at every moment such a chanter would seek to glorify Krishna.
While humbly offering prayers to Krishna to be able to control the mind, a Bhakti Yogi also endeavours to pull the mind back to the Holy Names as soon as he sees it wandering. This exercise, when done repeatedly, fills the chanter with the satisfaction of having at least attempted many times to quell the mind. This endeavour also pleases Krishna and He releases stocks of grace which helps the chanter further regulate his wandering mind. A Bhakti Yogi’s endeavour to control the mind is to attract this grace; it’s not to control the mind for the sake of control. A Hare Krishna devotee’s goal is to please Krishna and Krishna would be pleased if we can chant purely, with pure motivations.
Advanced practitioners when chanting Hare Krishna are therefore seen to offer prayers seeking to chant Hare Krishna purely. Once one person asked Srila Prabhupada what was his ultimate expectation from chanting Hare Krishna. Srila Prabhupada happily replied that the goal of chanting Hare Krishna is to chant Hare Krishna forever. Radhanath Swami explains this phenomenon of advanced souls whose chanting of Hare Krishna is in complete harmony with their body and mind, “At the beginning we chant Hare Krishna as a medicine but in a purified state, chanting the holy name is the spontaneous expression of the soul’s love for God. Therefore we never want to stop chanting Hare Krishna.”
Once we pass through the initial struggle of bringing the mind under control by listening to the Holy Names, we seek to simply chant Hare Krishna always. As Radhanath Swami confesses, “The goal of life is with every breath, with every heart beat, our consciousness is absorbed in the glorification of Krishna’s Holy Names.”