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Making chanting an unconscious habit

“I am terribly embarrassed by what my son’s doing” Ajit shook his head helplessly.

“I thought you should be concerned about his recovery more than being embarrassed” I volunteered to correct him; he was after all referring to a wrong emotion.

I knew Ajit’s twenty one year old son Akshay had met with a serious motor bike accident that proved almost fatal. With plasters all over his body, he was hanging on a hospital bed with many wires and machines all around him. He appeared like a well-dressed ghost.

“It was a close shave” I said.

“He’s still in a state of shock” Ajit feebly continued, “and the doctors have said he’d take many weeks to come back to normalcy”

I mildly chided him, “I wonder what’s embarrassing about this; it’s time to profusely thank God for saving your only child’s life”

“Of course I am grateful to God but I always knew my son didn’t have the best friends one could have”, Ajit was now sheepish. “He often came home late at night and I knew he swore at his friends and used four letter words at the drop of a hat. At home, he was careful what he spoke, but I knew he was a free spirited lad. But now his crass language and behavior is obvious to all our relatives and neighbors”

I was curious to know how a young man bound to his hospital bed, could possibly pronounce his unholy lifestyle to the world outside.

Ajit continued, somewhat awkwardly, “He is delirious and anyone comes to meet him receives a mouthful of profanities.  My son’s not even aware of what he’s saying, but for us, his parents, it’s terribly shameful to hear the bad language. And we can’t even look at our shocked friends; poor unsuspecting souls, they don’t know what to say either. I can neither stop his vulgar gibberish nor explain it to them”

“He must have been a real champion in spewing obscenities”, I commented, and immediately realized I shouldn’t have said that.

Ajit was peeved. “I thought you are my friend, and now you too rejoice at my misery”

“I am sorry”

“No, actually you are right”, he resigned to his fate. “I’ve often heard that what we think, do and speak consciously throughout our lives, comes back when we are on our deathbed. Our conscious thoughts, words and actions add to our subconscious mind, and if we chose to speak appreciatively of others, we’d naturally do the same when we are not fully cognizant of our surrounding. Our conscious acts determine our habits and our habits get deeply ingrained into our system. Then these habits influence our life even without our noticing it. And since my son only spoke an indecent language, now inadvertently, even in a semi-conscious state, he does the same. If only he knew what shame he’s causing us”

“Hmm”, I reflected, and felt quite shaken to know that what’s inside of us eventually comes outside. I offered whatever little solace I could, and left. I felt sorry that Ajit had to greet his relatives and friends in this uncomfortable situation. They were pouring in large numbers; probably the word had spread, and I suspect, some of them even wished to see the spectacle of what Akshay spoke.

Later as I returned to my room, I had mixed emotions. I was sad at Akshay’s situation but also hopeful. I knew he was on the road to recovery. If after he comes out of the hospital, he makes chanting of Hare Krishna a mindful activity, then later if he were to again meet with an accident or lie semi-conscious or get weak in body and mind, the Lord’s holy names would spontaneously vibrate on his tongue.

If we chose Krishna now, then when we can’t make choices, Krishna would surely be there. And if we are present with Krishna during the time of death, we transcend the cycle of birth and death.

Krishna assures this in the Bhagavad Gita (8.5), “And whoever, at the end of his life, quits his body remembering Me alone at once attains My nature. Of this there is no doubt.”

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