Monday Morning Greetings 2020 #46 – Kartik Meditations 2020

November 16th, 2020

For all practical purposes, Monday Morning Greetings was started twenty years ago while I was staying in Govardhan in 2000 for my yearly Kartik vow of increased devotional practices. It was then that I had the realization that it would be a good service to share my japa realizations regularly by email and then Facebook. Those realizations were later compiled into two books, Greetings from Vrindavan and, then later, Japa Meditations. Unfortunately, I am not in Govardhan this Kartik for only the second time in forty-four years. I do, however, try to follow the same yearly spiritual protocol and, as much as possible, live there in my mind. So back to the roots of Greetings—“Kartika Meditations 2020”:


Poor chanting: “When will I finish my rounds?”

Good chanting: “I hope this never ends!”


Chanting the holy name becomes more and more my service to Krishna as I become older. Conscious that chanting is my service, I try to offer each syllable carefully for the pleasure of Krishna. It dawned on me that I can’t perfect that service just by turning on some yogic power of concentration when I sit down to chant. The quality of my chanting depends much on how I live my life, for how I live my life is how I deal with God. In other words, just as you can’t ignore or mistreat someone publicly and expect to have them intimately deal with you in private, if we spend our day frivolously or irresponsibly in neglect of God’s will, we shouldn’t be surprised if He remains a bit distant in our meditation when we are alone with Him in the form of His divine holy name. If I am to perfect this service, I must be more conscientious in how I live my life.


Chanting is prayer. A successful chanter therefore has to know deep in their heart what they are actually praying for and to be conscious of that while chanting. Otherwise, their chanting may be empty.


We cannot earn Krishna; We can only attract Krishna. But Krishna is attracted by our humble effort to chant begging for His mercy.


Without regulation—a time and place for chanting—we lose focus, and when that happens chanting becomes somewhat tedious. Today I lost regulation. I thus had hours left of chanting in the afternoon. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I then had a thought: “If boredom is just a thought, then why not just determinedly neglect that thought, especially the thought of finishing my rounds. If I can neglect thoughts of boredom, my chanting will not be tedious.” It helped a lot. The eternal present is never boring.


As God is non-different from His name, within the name of Krishna is His form, qualities, and pastimes. These aspects of Himself are gradually revealed to the sincere chanter of the holy name, for Krishna, like any person, is responsive to love. Ultimately, we see the form and qualities of a person within their name to extent we have a meaningful relationship with them. Think of a person that you love or respect dearly. Say their name. Do you not spontaneously see their form and think of their qualities? When we sincerely serve Krishna and hear His glories and thus develop a meaningful relationship with Him, then certainly His form, qualities, and pastimes immediately come to mind when chanting His name. Even more than that, they actually manifest in His Name. When will that day be mine?


A bhakti catch-22: Taste in bhakti comes when we are concentrated over a reasonable period of time, but without being concentrated over a reasonable period of time it is hard to get taste. Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura offers a solution: mādhava-tithi bhakti-jananī – the days of Lord Hari give birth to devotion. In other words, if we can at least have days of the month for God, like Ekādaśī, when we fully concentrate on God, a taste for devotion arises that can help us to remain concentrated in our future practices. And even better is to take advantage of the month of Kartik.


Back to my roots: “Kartik Meditations 2020”. I kind of like it.


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