Poem for Jul 04

Japa Report

I began my japa at a moderate pace.
I planned to write
a short Japa Report
and finish my quotas
on time. I practiced “just hear,”
the method where you chant and hear
with no other meditation.
Halfway through the set
I noticed that I was falling behind.
I failed to meet my quota after
four rounds by several minutes.

I began the second set
switching to a brisk pace,
emphasizing speed
as a priority over quality.
Though moving fast,
I did not rush recklessly.
I held on to the bead until my mantra
was finished, and then I moved on
to the next bead.
Still, despite the brisk pace,
I did not catch up.

I began the third set
by moving the beads quickly
through my hand.
I didn’t try to avoid mechanical chanting
by cultivating thoughtfulness
or feelings of devotion.
All my attempts to
enter a prayerful attitude
or an inward state
were to no avail.

I began the fourth set
feeling desperate.
I thought I would
fail to meet my
sixteen rounds’ quota and
would have to stop japa
and promise to finish up
the balance later in the day.
But by speeding up,
I began to gradually catch up.
I was racing to the finish line.
I completed my sixteenth round
on time, with nine minutes to spare.

I considered it a barely
half-decent session because
despite all my attempts at speed
I went slowly. I failed to meet
my quotas except for the last
rapid burst. But I was alert and
wide awake the whole time.
I felt no head pain for
the entire session. 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.