Monday Morning Greetings 2017 #39 – Chanting and Falling

September 25th, 2017

This may sound weird, but first let me introduce the subject to put it in context:

I try to make time early in the morning for a good amount of chanting. I basically just try to hear the Holy Name to feel direct communion with God in the form of His name, but the mind does not always focus so easily. I have therefore utilized and developed different ways of activating either my understanding of the importance of what I am doing or my attraction for it for the purpose of inspiring and increasing my concentration. I have discussed these techniques in my book Japa Meditations: Contemplation on the Holy Name. Now the unusual part:

Recently, due to an increase in my traveling and the consequent irregularity of my schedule, I have felt more challenged in maintaining the proper mode for concentrated chanting. I am therefore forced at times to be even more creative in order to maintain attentive chanting. I have even tried the following visualization to activate my attentiveness:

I imagine it is September 11, 2001, and that I am on one of top floors of the World Trade Center towers and that due to the intense fire I am forced to jump. Actually this thought first came to me as I was in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and was struck with the horrid image of people on the top floor being forced to fatally jump to their death. I thought, “What if that was me? What would I think of in those fatal last seconds on the way down?” Anyway in this meditation of falling, I literally have a few seconds to chant before I hit the ground. I watch what happens to my consciousness:

My focus and attention substantially increased: Attention is something that has to be activated. And there is nothing more powerful to activate concentration than the thought that your next destination will largely be determined by what you are thinking at the moment of death and realizing that you have only a few seconds to perfect yourself. Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna!

The voice or sincerity of my chanting was amplified: Desperate situations inspire one to call for help sincerely. The vocative sense of the mantra, O Radha!, O Krishna!, becomes pronounced.

I chanted in humility: It is humbling when you face situations where you have no power to control your own destiny and your only shelter is God. I could understand how the power of such humility allows one to feel God’s mercy, invokes feelings of devotion and allows one to chant incessantly.

Don’t worry, the fall only takes a few seconds of my time during chanting and I definitely don’t try to envision the crash. But somehow these few seconds activate these three components of chanting that are the key to attentiveness: understanding its importance, chanting with sincerity, and embracing the humble position. It is also a fact that locking the mind in attention even for a few seconds often keeps us focused way beyond that. [1]

And when doing this meditation for a few seconds I also realize that chanting and falling is a microcosm for life in general. Will we not also die in just a blip of eternal time?

[1] Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura taught in his book Bhajana-rahasya that by concentrating on one couplet of the mantra you can lock in a sense concentration that continues for the whole mantra.

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