Dhanurdhara Swami February 11th, 2001
An old friend visited me in the morning. He’s a serious spiritual practitioner and quite learned, but not so well known to others. I haven’t seen or talked to him in several years so I asked him how his spiritual practices have developed. To advance in spiritual life we need bhajan-siksa, instructions on how to develop and deepen our spiritual practices. In the absence of Srila Prabhupada, or a regular access to a proper siksa-guru, I take shelter of the sadhus?especially my Godbrothers. In discussions with them, I mold my personal spiritual practices considering my own practical assessment of my spiritual life. My friend has had his fair share of “trials by fire” and he shared his personal realizations on chanting.
He explained to me that in his in-depth of study of Srila Prabhupada’s books, again and again Srila Prabhupada talks about taking shelter of and meditating on the lotus feet of the Lord, so during his japa he often just meditates on the lotus feet of Lord. He described how such meditation gives him a sense of deep peace and happiness, despite any external difficulties. I recognized within him the voice of conviction based on realization, so I immediately made a mental note to see how this realization could be incorporated into my own practices.
He said he also sometimes mediates on the forms of Radha and Krishna when chanting. I confronted him, not necessarily because I disagreed with him, but because I wanted to see his response. “But we are just suppose to hear the name,? I challenged.
He responded strongly. “But within the name is the Lord’s form. After so many years of chanting we should be thinking of Krishna. It’s the essence of sadhana-bhakti, the focus of all Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, and the goal of life. My happiness comes from thinking of Krishna and that happens spontaneously when one chants His name.”
“What about thinking of the Lord’s lila?? I asked. He replied, “When I read the Bhagavatam, or Krishna?s pastimes, then sometimes the next day the pastimes will also appear in His name. Should I artificially not think of Krishna?”
We should focus primarily on hearing the holy name. We should, however, live our lives in such a way that devotion awakens in our heart and the holy name automatically invokes the Lord’s form and activities.