Japa Thoughts 2004

June 8th, 2004

Princeton, New Jersey

I tried to chant with concentration. As my attention became more focused, I tried to understand how the holy name is not merely akash (material sound produced by air), but Krishna Himself.

Like all endeavors, chanting the holy name should begin with thought and proceed to desire and will. In other words, we think of the spiritual master’s order to chant, we desire to chant, we move our lips, and a sound is produced. Although chanting the holy name appears to go through the same process, the holy name actually descends. It is not mechanically produced because it is not material. How?

Without resolving the subtleties of this quandary, I approached the problem of the non-mechanistic appearance of the holy name in a practical way to increase the quality of my chanting: I focused on my desire to chant. I prayed for the pure name to descend. I desired to be attentive and to pronounce clearly, begging for sincerity. More and more, I saw the holy name as reciprocation with my desire, rather than a product of mechanized endeavor.

In other words, while listening to my chanting, I intensely focused on my core desire to be a good chanter-as if my connection to the appearance of the holy name was my desire for it and not my physical ability to produce it. Chanting in this way gave more of a feel for the holy name as a divine manifestation of mercy instead of an ordinary product of my works. And finally, as that which comes by mercy evokes our love and our heart naturally flows to that which we love, my attentiveness also increased.

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