Poem for Mar 24

Japa Report

Baladeva’s alarm clock went off at 1:00 A.M.,
and our cowbells followed.
He administered my wake-up rituals.
I walked into the room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I used my precautionary measures
and began japa.
I practiced “just hear,”
You just chant and hear
attentively with no other meditation.
There are higher stages
of perfection in japa,
but “just hear” is elevated in itself.
Anyone who understands that the Name
is non-different from Krishna Himself,
and who absorbs himself
in the transcendental sound vibration,
is achieving a rare stage of japa.
I met my quota after four rounds
with minutes to spare.
I turned to writing in my Japa Report.

I began the second set
in the same way. Although
I was chanting silently in my mind,
I heard the Names clearly, with attention
and concern to pronounce
the words properly. But
I was distracted by planning
what to write in my future
writing report.
I was committing aparadha:
inattention to the Name,
so my chanting was faulty.
But the maha-mantra is so merciful and powerful
that it vanquishes sinful reactions,
ushers in liberation
and brings one gradually to love of God,
even when chanted with imperfections,
as I was doing.
(I like to daily recite
the lines about the power
of the maha-mantra. They
encourage me, that with
Hare Krishna at my back
I cannot go ultimately wrong.)
I met my quota after eight rounds,
with minutes to spare.

For the third set
I emphasized speed
over quality. But
I held on to the bead
until the first mantra was
finished before moving on to
the next bead. To avoid
merely mechanical chanting,
I cultivated thoughtfulness
and devotional feelings.
For thoughtfulness, I adhered to
“just hear.” This enabled me
to focus on one mantra
at a time attentively.
For feeling, I associated with
the sweetness of Radha-Govinda.
I acknowledged that They are
the heart of the Hare Krishna mantra,
uttered as a prayer for
engagement in Their service.
I finished my twelfth round,
meeting the quota
with minutes to spare.

For the fourth set, I
found that I could
not go speedily enough
and was too far behind
to complete the sixteen rounds
in an early morning session.
I decided to finish
the fourth set
later in the day.

I considered it a poor session
because I had to finish so late.
But I experienced no physical pain.
At least I follow the process
of doing a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order
of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.