Baladeva’s alarm clock went off at 1:00 A.M.,
and our cowbells followed.
He administered my wake-up rituals.
I entered the room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I began my japa at a moderate pace,
taking darsana of the all-attractive arca-vigrahas.
I practiced “just hear,” the method
where you attentively chant and hear
with no other meditation.
I am capable and comfortable to do this.
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 the Japa Report.
I began the second set at a brisk pace.
Although I was chanting silently in the 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 the 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 met my quota after eight rounds
with minutes to spare. So far
I felt no pain in my eyes or head,
and I was grateful for this.
Beginning the third set, I emphasized
speed as a priority over quality.
But I didn’t rush recklessly.
I held on to the bead until
I finished each mantra, before
moving on to the next bead.
I avoided merely mechanical
chanting by cultivating thoughtfulness
and devotional feeling.
For thoughtfulness, I adhered to
“just hear,” this enabled me
to keep the mantras separate
without mixing or missing them.
For feeling, I looked at Radha-Govinda.
They appeared regal and charming,
and I imbibed Their sweetness.
I acknowledged that Radha-Krishna
were the heart of the Hare Krishna mantra,
uttered as a prayer for engagement
in Their service.
I finished the twelfth round
with minutes to spare on the quota.
On the fourth set I continued to speed,
but I tried to improve the quality.
I approached the gates
of internal japa and
found them open. For awhile
I was able to enter
the life of prayer.
I called out to Radha and Krishna
for Their blessings, because
it is not possible for me to
do good japa on my own endeavor.
But toward the end of the set
I saw I was falling behind by the clock,
so I switched to concentration on speed.
I completed my sixteenth round
with time to spare on the overall quota.
I considered it a decent session,
with no physical pain until
the very end of writing in the Japa Report.
All the rounds were attentive and awake.
For awhile I achieved a prayerful
state, and I was always careful
enunciating my mantras, even
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.