Poem for Jan 22

Japa Report


Baladeva’s alarm clock went off at 1:00 A.M.,
and our cowbells followed.
He administered my wake-up rituals.
I used the walker
to go into the room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I began japa, taking
all the precautionary measures.
I practiced “just hear.”
I am capable of this method,
and it satisfies me.
You simply chant and hear with
no other meditation.
Prabhupada recommends it.
Although there are higher stages of perfection
in japa, “just hear” is elevated in itself.
Anyone who understands that the
name of Krishna is Krishna Himself,
and absorbs himself
in the transcendental sound vibration,
is achieving a rare state of japa.
I met my quota after four rounds
with ample minutes to spare.

I began the second set in the same way.
Although I was chanting silently in the mind,
I heard the Names clearly, with attention
and concern to pronounce the words properly.
When I say “I heard” while chanting silently,
I mean the mantras resounded in my mind
as good as vocal chanting. But I was
distracted by the twinge, and by
planning what to write in my Japa Report.
This latter habit is unstoppable.
I can only ration it and tolerate it.
Nevertheless, I am committing aparadha:
inattention to the holy name.
But the maha-mantra is so merciful and powerful
that it vanquishes sinful reactions,
ushers in liberationx
and brings one gradually to love of God,
even when chanted with imperfections
as I was doing.
(I like to say these
lines about the power
of the maha-mantra.
They give me confidence
and solace that despite
my inadequacies, I am making
progress by the Absolute nature
of the name. The lines are like
affirmations or prayers.
Therefore, I recite them on a daily basis.)
I failed to meet my quota after
eight rounds by six minutes.

I began the third set at a moderate pace.
My right eye twinge became more prominent.
I didn’t take the pill for migraine, but
took other medication for regular headache.
I am depending on the Prednisone taper
to give me extra protection.
I try to avoid mechanical chanting by cultivating
thoughtfulness and devotional feeling.
For being thoughtful, I adhere to “just hear.”
Although I could not go deep
into sravanam-kirtanam, I was able
to pay attention to each separate mantra.
For feeling, I acknowledged that Radha-Krishna
are the heart of the Hare Krishna mantra,
composed exclusively of Their names
and uttered as a prayer
for engagement in Their service.
With my eyes closed, I lost track of time.
When I looked up, I saw that I had
spaced out and chanted sixty extra mantras
before finishing the set!
But I still finished my twelfth round
with ample minutes to spare.

I began the fourth set
with the right eye discomfort
still present. But it hadn’t got worse.
I called out to Krishna for His blessings,
because it is not possible for me
to do good japa on my own endeavor.
Again, I lost track of time,
“spaced out” and noted
I had done many extra mantras
before finishing the set.
Yet I still met my overall quota
after sixteen rounds
with ample minutes to spare.

I considered it a half-decent session
with a handicap.
At least the twinge didn’t develop into a migraine,
and it reduced
by the end of the session.
(It almost completely went away
as I wrote the Japa Report.)
I adhered to a steady but
fragile practice of “just hear”
for the whole time. It was
almost a “decent” session,
but could have been deeper
and more ardent.
At least I followed the process
of doing a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.