I had a direct experience of how trying to control is deep rooted in my heart.
We were travelling by car to Jagganath Puri from a remote village in Orissa. It was a five hour drive through uneven and bumpy roads. We left early in the morning and I learnt that the driver hadn’t slept the previous night. Besides, he was driving really fast at 60-80 km/hr. I was seated in the front seat next to him and picked up my bead bag to chant all my 16 rounds. I was aware of his condition and feared he might doze off while driving. This means a sure accident which could be fatal. Various thoughts rushed through my mind as I was moving my beads. I began to look at the road ahead as the driver manoeuvred through the rough roads, overtook other vehicles, or turned suddenly when a speeding vehicle came from the opposite side on the narrow roads. My eyes were intently focussed on the roads and my heart was palpitating in nervousness. I was also constantly looking at the driver to assure myself that he wasn’t sleeping. As we covered a certain part of the journey I was calculating on how much more is left. My eyes were fixed on the road although I wasn’t driving and could do little to avert an accident if the driver in a split second dozed or crashed to the mango trees lined up on the roads, or the vehicles coming from the opposite direction. I was seeking comfort in my observation of the situation and was feeling secure that so far we are safe. During this entire period I was also chanting my rounds and the counter bead slowly but surely pulled down.
Radhanath Swami reveals this mindset,
“For those in illusion, to control is the goal. We want to control all people and objects around us. We also want to control our bodies and minds but ultimately the forces of material nature are so designed by the Lord to sooner or later frustrate all our attempts. The Lord reveals to us that we are always under the control of higher powers. And if we’ve gained pride and recognition for being a powerful controller it will certainly be humbling and embarrassing as Krishna puts us in a helpless condition.”
On hearing this I feel it’s better to be voluntarily humble and give up the controller tendency rather than be forcibly humbled by the material nature.
After eight rounds, Krishna mercifully revealed to me that my chanting was offensive because I was trying to control the situation rather than chant attentively. I then realized that this was the best time to chant attentively and desperately depend on Krishna. I then tried to meditate on how death could come at any moment and I closed my eyes while trying to listen to each syllable of the maha mantra. Initially it was difficult but slowly I got used to the new situation and my chanting was good. I realized I was not in control nor was the driver; if Krishna wanted he could do anything now. My only hope is to chant Hare Krishna and if death were to strike now and if I am listening to the Holy Names, it would be glorious. From then on my remaining eight rounds were good.
During this second innings of japa, I felt an unusual sense of serenity and peace within myself. The burden of trying to be in charge was off my head and heart. I felt relief and slowly refreshed by the Holy Names for I was now in the protective shelter of Krishna’s Holy Names. I wish I could chant like this daily.
After japa we did kirtan in the car and reached Jagganath Puri safely.
Therefore while chanting japa it is pointless to think what we can do in life and how we can do it? The only thing we can do is try to chant attentively. We can plan our activities during the rest of the day and even that has to be done prayerfully knowing that Krishna is ultimately in control.