One reason why our japa goes through a ritualistic phase is the deep rooted tendency in our hearts of wanting to be in control of things. This is merely a reflection of our propensity to be the enjoyer, the root cause of suffering in this material world. Let us briefly understand how this tendency to control manifests in our daily life of chanting?
If I have the service of taking care of newcomers, then I want to serve and speak nicely and make them devotees. This is a healthy desire but the problem happens when I start thinking that I alone can make them devotees and I have to know all the answers to all the questions they ask, and I should do everything. This leads to the tendency of being the enjoyer and controller getting strengthened in our consciousness. We are always conscious of our pogrammes, our services, the people we are cultivating, and myriad issues related to our services. These thoughts preoccupy our mind throughout the day and when we sit down to chant, it’s natural that out thoughts flow to these issues. We forget the goal of wanting to please Krishna and guru; we also forget that I am simply an instrument; we are also in ignorance about so many factors not being in our control. As we spend even our precious japa time meditating on things we have to do throughout the day, we get attached to the work and identify with it as our own project, rather than it being an offering to guru and Krishna. Then when the inevitable happens- we face failures or are chastised by others or don’t get results as expected- we get devastated. It’s difficult to suddenly switch on to remembering Krishna and turning to Krishna for help since we haven’t practised remembering Krishna earlier during the day, and especially during the chanting session.
The gravitational pull of negative energy then drags us further down and the negative consciousness only increases and bitterness in the heart gets churned to more unpleasantness. At this stage japa time gets filled with thoughts of anger, revenge fantasies, and more planning. This adds to the dryness and since the soul is pleasure seeking, we are desperate for pleasure which we now mistakenly perceive the Holy Names of Krishna to be not rewarding us with. Since we never confirmed to Krishna and His Holy Names that we want to serve, we are now wondering why Krishna conscious yoga doesn’t give me happiness. Soon we seek pleasure in material thoughts and material pursuits. Our previous conditionings and pursuits that gave us pleasures may attract us and before we realize we may be engaging in sense gratification like we did before we came to Krishna consciousness. We may land up criticizing others in a vain attempt to get some pleasure, or watch pornography on the net. This is a vicious cycle. The next japa session then gets worse due to the previous day’s impressions, samskaras that we have added to the consciousness. Then we experience more dryness and we land up committing more offenses to the Holy Names.
We need to work on the root of the matter- abandon the controller tendency, especially while chanting. Radhanath Swami explains,
“The tendency of the conditioned soul in this world is to be controller but Krishna is in truth the controller of all controllers. Everyone in this material existence is to some extent a controller. But Krishna is the supreme controller. The more we accept this and live by this principle, the more we are peaceful.”
Secondly we need to make japa time an exclusive time to listen to one maha mantra, and praying to Krishna constantly to be able to listen to the Holy Names. Radhanath Swami assures that if we can simply listen to the chanting, all success is guaranteed in our spiritual life. Besides, when we actually listen to the syllables of the Maha Mantra, we can actually connect to Krishna. Since Krishna is spiritual, His Holy Names too are spiritual. Immediately the Holy Names of Krishna bathes us with nectarine spiritual taste. We find the Holy Names nourishing us as we listen to Krishna’s Holy Names.