Dhanurdhara Swami August 29th, 2016
When I am in America and not traveling, I live in Stuyvesant Falls — a quiet, small agricultural hamlet in Upstate New York — just two hours by express train from New York City. A converted barn is my Western bhajan kuṭīra*. I naturally chant more while there. When blessed, realizations come. I will share them here.
Today the practice was better. I was more concentrated and chanted longer in the right mood without interruption. The real test of better chanting is the benediction of realization. I had one today: More is less. I am chanting more here, quite a bit more, but it feels easier, much easier than when I do less. More feels less. Why?
The saying goes, “Time flies when you are having a good time.” What is a good time? It is not what we usually think it is, a world conforming to our desires. It means living in the soul, which first awakens in gratitude and humility. In that place, one can live for forever, for gratitude is the basis of devotion, and love is the only place one never wants to leave for someplace else.
We feel time when we dwell in the past or the future. Focused in the present there is no time. When we live in gratitude and humility we are happy and present now, otherwise we lament (for the past) or hanker (for the future) and become oppressed by time. Chanting in gratitude and humility thus transcends time. If we are not concentrated in chanting and live in the future thinking, “When will I finish my chanting,” two rounds can seem like hours or more. If we are concentrated hours of chanting will seem like moments.
Am I there? I am practicing.
But by prolonged chanting when layers of ignorance are gradually pealed away, one may glimpse the soul. One may feel gratitude and humility and want to live in that place of devotion forever. Time then stops. So by chanting more and more, one feels less. Less doesn’t mean less chanting. It means one feels less of the oppression of time. So in good chanting, more is less.
Simple choice: Concentrate or be oppressed.
A humble soul can feel God’s mercy and therefore respond by chanting with love and devotion. Humility is thus the key to chanting. Unfortunately, I need to be beaten by the world to be humble.
How? By having to confront reality.
What is that reality? It is the stark truth that the world moves at God’s whim and that I am not in control.
That thought is unnerving – that anything can happen. And it inevitably does. What a crazy world. It is hard to take. All I can do is take shelter. But that feeling of shelter, although inspired by apprehension and fear, is the greatest solace. That is the way of the world, to push us from ego to the lap of Kṛṣṇa. And I can stay there forever chanting the holy name.
* Meditation hut or humble place where one chants and hears about Kṛṣṇa.