Today I chanted extra japa and felt nourished. However a painful realization dawned on me that I may not really want what the Holy Names want to give me.
If I am attentive and prayerful in my chanting, then the scriptures, our vaishnava acharyas and Srila Prabhupada have all promised that I’d be awarded with the gift of love of god. But the truth is I am not really keen on this reward. But then why do I chant japa at all if that is not what I want? Difficult to accept, but the truth of the matter is I chant japa because of all other side benefits. I want good realizations to impress my audiences with in my lectures. I also want peace of mind, and the strength to say ‘no’ to maya. I chant japa and even try to be attentive so that I don’t bloop from Krishna consciousness.
Basically, as we get older in Krishna consciousness we need to ask this painful question, “Why are we doing what we are doing?” Is our devotional service motivated by fear, duty, reward or love of God? If it’s not love that motivates us to render various activities in devotional service then it would be difficult to sustain our practices. On the other hand if we seek love, then other things don’t really count. The inner richness of love makes all other external rewards pale in comparison.
But love as a motivation to practice Krishna consciousness seems so artificial at this stage, isn’t it? Then at least I could chant with an aspiration to listen to the Holy Names. Listening to each syllable is practically speaking, listening to Krishna Himself, because Krishna is non-different from His Holy Names. So if we are attentive in our japa we are in effect listening to Krishna’s voice. And just imagine how wonderful it would feel to directly hearGod. That’s what happens when we are attentive and alert in our spiritual practices.
When we make listening to the Holy Names our goal, we also get an awareness of how wild our mind actually is. And that in itself is a big victory over the mind; while most people are helplessly tossed around by the mind, you’d be aware of the mind’s recurring tantrums. That humbles us and also helps us seek Krishna’s love more feelingly. And if we persevere in our attentive chanting, we actually gain victory over the mind. Many of us may not be motivated to chant Hare Krishna, but we all have felt stressed by the unreasonable demands of the mind. We do wish the mind was more cooperative and in our control, rather than we forced to play its tune. If that’s our desire, chanting Hare Krishna can be a good motivation.
Today while chanting I was constantly thinking of all the things that I had to do after I finished chanting. In other words, it was like a ritual where being with Krishna, who I often claim is the most important person in my life, was a chore I need to get done. And then after japa so many other things were awaiting my attention. How I wish the situation reversed. That is while I am doing so many things throughout the day, if I could think when I could get some time to chant extra today. If I eagerly look forward to being with Krishna by chanting His Holy Names then I would be successful in my spiritual life.
Therefore, next time we chant Hare Krishna we could remember these four tips by which we could be excited and happy as we chant Hare Krishna.
1. Listen to the syllables of Hare, Krishna, and Rama as you chant them
2. Know that the mind would be subdued and would get cooperative if you can simply listen to the syllable
3. If we actually listen to the maha mantra we are in effect listening to Krishna and that would be a wonderful and rich experience of love
4. The real reward of chanting is love of Krishna, and not peace or realizations. Once there is love, all other things don’t really matter.