Archive for October, 2007

Japa Thoughts: Yogic Chanting III

October 30th, 2007

October 30, 2007
Sri Govardhana

Japa Thoughts

Yogic Chanting III:

A Buddhist subscriber to the journal, an old high school friend, sent a short message in response to my journal entry where I recommend “to focus on the holy name, stop the mind, and reveal the soul”:

“Very nice. Even a Buddhist would agree! (Is that good?)”

Yes. As I mentioned in a previous journal, yoga is not so much a particular philosophy as it is a mental technique that can be applied to all spiritual practices, although yoga is generally connected to the Sanhkya philosophy.* For example, in Bhagavad-gita Sri Krishna says, “When the mind is controlled, the Supersoul is at reach,” so yoga here is used for god-realization. It is not surprising that, especially in Buddhism, the same mental techniques that I talked about are the focus of practice, although the goals of Buddhism and Sankhya are technically different.*

When meditating this morning I realized that although a Vaisnava can also use mental concentration and restraint (yoga) to help realize the soul, his mediation is more than that. A Vaisnava must also consciously search the heart for emotion. Without such devotion chanting becomes mechanical, although of course, one?s chanting must start with yoga (constant practice and detachment).One can’t, however, remain satisfied to just be yogic chanters without some heartfelt sentiment for the object of his concentration.

* There are popularly six major philosophies in India: Vedanta, Mimamsa, Vaisesika, Nyaya, Yoga and Sankhya. They are also popularly grouped in couplets of philosophy and practice. Sankhya as philosophy is linked with yoga as practice as are Vaisesika with Nyaya and Vedanta with Mimamsa.

**Buddhism, unlike Sankhya, teaches that consciousness (the soul) is not a separate entity from the object of consciousness. In other words, although Buddhism also applies yoga techniques its goal is not the realization of the soul.

Japa Thoughts – October 29, 2007

October 29th, 2007

October 29, 2007
Sri Govardhan

Japa Thoughts:

I do half a Govardhana parikram once a week. This week it’s the Radha Kunda side. What a pleasant walk among the sadhus and pilgrims. When I finally enter Radha Kunda, the moment I cross the invisible border, I swear I feel the difference. A realization came, “Perception is dependent on consciousness.” I went there when I first came and now I’m coming again, but I’m seeing a different world due to the purification of chanting in the dhama. It also gave me the realization how the highest knowledge is experiential, a taste of reality, so to speak, not just an analysis of it. That brings me to the topic of chanting. When dedicated to nama kirtan, there is nothing that changes the consciousness so profoundly.

A final thought: We are miserable because we don’t see Krishna and thus live in a world of duality and fear. I am inspired to take shelter of holy name so that I can see and understand reality. I’m convinced more than ever that the most intelligent person, the one with the highest knowledge, is the truly humble soul who simply chants Hare Krishna.

Japa Thoughts – October 28, 2007

October 28th, 2007

October 28th, 2007
Sri Govardhana

Japa Thoughts

An unexpected visit from a saintly friend inspires me. He seeks blessings, advice. He has been concentrating on teaching, counseling and spiritual leadership, especially for the last few years. He is unquestionably a loyal, dedicated follower of Srila Prabhupada, but perhaps not so frontline and known.

“My studying,” he says, “has just been with the intention of teaching others, which is nice, but it has not been enough with the intention of nourishing what this poor soul needs.” He then explains that he will take five years off just for bhajan, spiritual practices. He even describes the kutir he has built and how he will chant and read all day with little or no social contact.

“I am not qualified to advise you,” I respond, “but I have confidence in your sincerity and your qualification. After a year of purification you will certainly find inner direction whether to continue or not. May Srila Prabhupada bless your efforts.”

He thanks me, but humbly insists with strong conviction that he is sure that this is what he needs, that it will take five years. I am quiet. I sense his certainty is coming from within, at least to proceed on this path with determination. I know the person’s depth, history of spiritual practice and unquestioned faith in guru. He has without fail always accomplished whatever he sets his mind to. Although he sees me as senior (we are not god-siblings, but about the same age), I see him as are far more determined and advanced.

My short encounter with my friend confirmed a thought I had this morning about spiritual practice. Although it is a gradual process, there is almost a definitive line, a moment, when one crosses into the realm of full surrender. When arriving, there is substantial shift in orientation. Krishna becomes totally the center of ones life, rather than one’s ego and petty desires. Real bhajan begins, the name penetrates the heart, and Krishna accepts one as good as Himself. Until that point, the purpose of practice and prayer is to get there.

My friend has crossed that line. He has entered the realm of spiritual possibilities that those of us on the other side can hardly imagine. I pray to enter the realm of selfless surrender.

Japa Thoughts: Yogic Chanting II

October 27th, 2007

October 27, 2007

Yogic Chanting II

What one reads in sastra influences ones practices. I’m studying Vyasa’s commentary on the yogi sutra’s, so naturally I let the truths that I gleaned there enter my practice to help steady the mind. I’m fascinated by the notion of ahankara, the false conception of the self that limits ones consciousness to a certain material sphere. The consciousness of an ant, for example, is filtered by ahankara to assume the self- impression of a tiny busy body searching for food. Although it cannot see or appreciate the world beyond its small insect ideas, nonetheless, like any conditioned soul, it has a sense of self-centeredness and inflated importance. My meditation today was thus on pride. I want to chant without it. What am I proud of, however? It’s only the limited shape my consciousness takes in this life, which isn’t even me. Today I, the soul, chant round after round, looking at my false-identity, the one I’m proud of, which is not even the person chanting, and laugh at my illusion. It’s a fact – I’m just not anything that was making me proud. I thus do my mala as a soul, realizing that I am a spark of God, like everyone else.

Japa Thoughts: Yogic Chanting

October 26th, 2007

Kartik begins today. I will try, as I have done for the past five years, to share a regular journal of japa thoughts and other realizations. I have doubts about how much more I can say, but at least here’s something to help begin Kartik.

Kartik Journal
October 26, 2007

Japa Thought:

Yogi chanting: Focus on the holy name, stop the mind, reveal the soul. Yoga, in its classical definition, is not a particular philosophy, but a psychosomatic process. The mind is a mirror for the conditioned soul to observe its consciousness, to see its soul. When that mirror is dirty the image is distorted. We see a controller, not a servant, and don’t feel the soul (pure devotion, happiness). The dust is our material thoughts, decisions and self-conceptions. Stop that and the pure soul is reflected in the mind. So I focus on the name, stop the mind, reveal the soul and feel relief. What a relief! Our only relief – basking in the soul! But the dust of the mind, the sense of being not the soul, says, “No, let me enjoy and suffer.” How unfortunate!