Dhanurdhara Swami April 3rd, 2017
Have you ever lost spiritual momentum? It happens to us all. I had realization about that in relation to my writing that seemed applicable to spiritual life. I would like to share that, but first I think I need to define what I mean by “momentum”.
Momentum means the power gained when moving or continuing something that grows stronger as time passes, a force that is lost when stopping or pausing, and a force that takes time to build up when beginning to move again. A good example of momentum is when you are driving a car. As you are moving you gradually may be able to shift into high gear and gain momentum, allowing you to cruise along at a high speed effortlessly. However, when you stop and have to start again, that momentum has been lost and only gradually restores after some time.
This concept of momentum in relation to spiritual life dawned on me when faced with the weekly demand of writing Monday Morning Greetings. I noticed that when I don’t write every day I lose momentum and it takes an inordinate amount of time to shift into a reasonable pace of writing when I begin again. In contrast, when I write every day without fail, I seem to remain in high gear and can immediately build on the frame of reference where I left off. It seems that continuity over time in all endeavors gives momentum and enhances productivity.
I then also realized how much this same phenomenon of momentum was applicable to my spiritual practice. While in India this year, I was somehow able to sustain the practice of rising very early every day for my chanting. I noticed how after a while my practice substantially increased both in amount and quality. Since arriving in the United States, a combination of disrupted plans, late night programs, and unexpected travel disturbed my regulation, especially rising early, causing a reduction in the amount and focus of my chanting. When that temporary disruption in schedule passed, my practice lost momentum and ironically the minimum prescribed amount seemed as daunting as what I had being doing for almost a year, although then I was doing substantially more. Only gradually was I able to gain the momentum to sustain the previous level of practice.
This phenomenon of momentum is alluded to in the Yoga Sūtras where practice is defined as “concentration, without break, for a prolonged time with the right mood”. Here it specifically mentions that practice must be unbroken. In other words, it just can’t be casually done here and there, for even if you do the same amount sporadically, which is unlikely, you will not have the same momentum or gear to focus intensely. And I will add that without such focus, and the consequent realization and taste that follows, even the minimum amount of chanting will remain difficult and arduous. That’s the reason serious practitioners chant their japa at least in concentrated and unbroken bunches of four, eight or sixteen rounds and not haphazardly here and there.
Conclusion: Strictly set aside a time and place for chanting, for without minimum uninterrupted effort, we will never get the momentum to chant spontaneously and with realization. Rather our chanting will remain a bore and the effort to perfect one’s life hampered.
I am writing this very early in the morning trying to get back to my schedule. I will now pick up my beads and try to apply what I just wrote. For the next two hours, I will practice without break, confident that momentum will build, realizations will come and the thing that is best for me in this world, chanting the holy name, will more and more become the thing that I derive the most pleasure from. That is the glory of momentum.
- Monday Morning Greetings