Poem for Jun 17

Japa Report

The alarm clocks went off at 1:00 A.M.
and our cowbells followed.
Baladeva 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,
glancing at Radha-Govinda. I was
relaxed and dedicated to
my chanting in the sanctity
of my bhajana-kutir.
I practiced “just hear,”
the method where you chant and hear
with no other meditation.
I am capable of doing this,
and comfortable executing it.
There are higher stages of perfection in japa,
but “just hear” is elevated in itself.
Anyone who understands that the Name
is nondifferent from Krishna Himself,
and who absorbs himself
in the transcendental sound vibration,
is achieving a rare state of japa.
I could not attain that rare stage,
but I tried.
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 moderate pace.
Baladeva’s vocal chanting
from the other room was encouraging
and helped me in my silent japa.
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 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 brings one gradually to the actual goal
– attainment of 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.
It gives me confidence that I am
making progress, even while
making mistakes.)
I met my quota after eight rounds
with a few minutes to spare.

I began the third set at a fast pace.
I watched my beads pass quickly
through my hand.
I practiced “just hear,” which enabled
me to keep the mantras separately
without slurring or merging them.
I had no time to cultivate
thoughtfulness or devotional feelings.
I did not receive darsana,
for fear it would incur eyestrain.
So far I felt no head pain
and I was grateful for that.
I could not enter
an internal mood
or a prayerful state,
but I kept up enunciation
of the Names.
I finished the set with
a few minutes to spare.

I began the next set
at a rapid pace, 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 went on gaining support
from Baladeva’s vocal chanting.
I completed my final round
with five minutes to spare
on the overall quota.

I considered it a half-decent session.
There was no prayerful state
or inner mood.
I emphasized speed throughout,
but I was alert and wide awake
the whole time. I experienced
no head pain for the entire session.
I chanted my rounds with external attention.
I followed the process of doing
a prescribed number of rounds
in obedience to the order of the spiritual master,
a sacred vow.