Poem for Apr 02

Japa Report

Baladeva’s alarm clock went off at 1:00 A.M.,
and our cowbells followed.
He administered my wake-up rituals.
I went into the other room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I applied my precautionary measures
and began japa.
I practiced “just hear” at
a moderate pace. This is the method
where you just chant and hear with
no other meditation. I
am capable of doing this,
and it satisfies me. There are
higher stages of perfection in japa,
but “just hear” is elevated in itself.
Anyone who realizes 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 ample minutes to spare. Then I
turned to writing in my Japa Report.

I began the second set
at a brisk/moderate pace.
I avoided purely mechanical chanting
by cultivating thoughtfulness and
devotional feelings. For thoughtfulness,
I adhered to “just hear.” This enabled
me to keep the mantras
separate and not mix
them or miss them.
For feelings, I gazed
at Radha-Govinda and the other
arca-vigraha. I dared
not attempt long
darsanas. But even
by looking at Them
for short periods,
I was able to imbibe Their
sweetness. I acknowledged
that They are the heart
of the Hare Krishna mantra,
composed exclusively of Their Names
and uttered as a prayer
to be engaged in Their service.
I met my quota after eight rounds
with minutes to spare.

As I began the third set
a headache arose. I
paused and took pills.
Baladeva was beginning to take a
nap. He told me that if
my headache didn’t go
away, I should tell him
and he would give me
special pills. I chanted
with emphasis on speed
as a priority over quality,
because I felt I was falling
behind. But my headache
was a distraction that
hampered my japa. This
was the first time I had
had a headache in weeks.
I kept up external attention
to the Names, but I
couldn’t enter into an
internal, prayerful state.
I finished my twelfth round
with minutes to spare on the quota.

As I began the fourth set,
the headache slightly diminished.
I continued to emphasize speed
over quality. But I didn’t
rush recklessly. I held on
to the bead until the mantra
was finished before moving
to the next bead. But my
attention was mostly external.
I was not crying out to
Radha and Krishna to
please engage me
in Their service. It was more
mechanical than devotional.
I completed my sixteenth round
with minutes to spare
on the overall quota.

I considered it a half-decent session
with a headache handicap. On
the last two sets, I
emphasized speed over quality.
I stayed alert and wide awake, and
didn’t mix or miss the mantras.
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.