Poem for May 23

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 room
where the Deities are and bowed down.
I began my japa at a moderate pace.
I practiced “just hear,” the method
where you chant and hear attentively
with no other meditation.
I am capable of this
and comfortable with it.
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 state of japa.
I could not achieve this rare state,
but I tried to do it
with sincere chanting and hearing.
I met my quota after four rounds
with minutes to spare.
Then I turned to writing
in my Japa Report.

I began my second set
at a moderate 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 ahead
what to write in my next Japa Report.
I was committing aparadha:
inattention to the Name.
So my japa was faulty.
But the maha-mantra is so merciful and powerful
that it vanquishes past sinful reactions,
ushers in liberation
and gradually brings one to the actual goal,
attainment of love of God,
even when chanted with imperfections
as I was doing.
I met my quota after eight rounds
with minutes to spare.

I began my third set
at a moderate pace.
I tried to avoid merely mechanical
chanting by cultivating thoughtfulness
and devotional feelings. For thoughtfulness,
I adhered to “just hear.” This enabled
me to concentrate on
keeping the mantras separate
without mixing or missing them.
I tried to realize
the Name was non-different from Krishna.
(When Prabhupada was in Tehran
he told a group of Muslims
that the sound vibration “Allah” was non-different
from Allah Himself. They could not accept
it. But it
is an absolute fact.
The same is true
of the name “Jesus.” The devout
practitioners of the Jesus Prayer
accept the precious name as
non-different from Jesus.) For feeling,
I glanced at Radha-Govinda and imbibed
Their sweetness. I acknowledged
that Radha-Krishna 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 lost track of the time
and said fifty extra mantras
before finishing the set.
I was behind on my quota.

After three sets at a moderate pace,
I was way behind. I began the fourth set
switching to a brisk pace.
I emphasized speed as a
priority over quality.
On the first three sets I had
done some inner, prayerful japa,
but now there was no
time for it. I went
as fast as possible
short of reckless rushing.
I moved the beads
quickly through my hand.
I “spaced out” again and said
twenty-five extra mantras
before finishing my sixteen rounds.
I completed the session
with time to spare.

I considered it a decent session
despite the excessive speeding
on the fourth set.
I had no sensation of physical pain
the whole time. I was
wide awake the entire session.
The first three sets in particular
were conscientious and controlled.
I follow the process where one does
a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order
of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.