Poem for Apr 21

Japa Report

I woke at 10:30 P.M.
with a headache and took a pill.
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 room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I began my japa at a brisk pace.
I practiced “just hear,” the method
where you attentively chant and hear
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. Then I turned
to writing in my Japa Report.

I began the second set at a brisk pace,
gazing at Radha-Govinda, Lord Caitanya
and Srila Prabhupada.
I was chanting silently in my mind,
but I heard the names clearly,
with attention and concern to
pronounce the words properly,
yet I was distracted planning ahead
what to write in my next Japa 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 past 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 repeat the lines about
the power of the maha-mantra.
They give me confidence
that I am making progress,
even though I am committing mistakes.)
I met my quota after eight rounds
with minutes to spare.

I began the third set.
I felt satisfied and simple.
I was practicing “just hear” and alternately
writing in my Japa Report. It was
easy, yet deep and devotional.
I controlled my mind.
To avoid merely mechanical chanting,
I cultivated thoughtfulness and
devotional feeling.
For thoughtfulness, I adhered to “just hear.”
This enabled me to keep
the mantras separately, without
mixing or missing them.
For feeling, I engaged in
darsana of the arca vigrahas
and imbibed Their protective sweetness.
I acknowledged that Radha-Krishna
are the heart of the Hare Krishna mantra,
uttered as a prayer
to be engaged in Their service.
I finished my twelfth round
with minutes to spare.
So far, it was turning out to be
a decent session.

I began the fourth set
emphasizing speed as a priority
over quality. The beads passed quickly
through my fingers, but I did not
rush recklessly. I held on to the bead
until the mantra was finished
before moving on to the next bead.
I called out to Krishna for His blessing,
because it is not possible for me
to do good japa on my own endeavor.
I was not the master, but a servant
of the Name. The maha-mantra
is a nectarean ocean, and I
was able to taste only a few drops.

I had several prolonged visual darsanas
of the Deities during this morning’s session.
I finished my sixteenth round
with minutes to spare on the overall quota.
I followed the process of doing
a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order
of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.