Japa Mala – Exercise by Mahatma dasa

Posted: August 6, 2010 in Attention, Bhakti, Chanting, Discipline, Ego, Japa, Spiritual Progress

Offer a prayer to the holy name that describes your aspirations to best serve the holy name, to go deeper into your relationship with the holy name. In order to help you with this exercise, I am including a prayer I wrote at the end of one of the Japa retreats.
My Dear Holy Name,
Please allow me to taste Your nectar, to fully experience Your presence, to feel joy and enthusiasm when I meet You. Please allow me to become attracted to You, to always hanker for your association, and to never become tired of spending time with you. And please reveal how You are non-different from your form, qualities and pastimes-how You are fully present in your name.
I pray that someday I will have as much attraction to chanting Your name as I now have for material things. And I pray that this attraction will be such that others want to chant and relish Your name just by being in my presence.

I have two special last requests:

* Please allow me to feel affection for You when I chant Your name.
* Please allow my heart to melt (at least one time in my life) when I chant Your name.

The 4-step Japa mala technique
I had the chance to attend a japa retreat held in upstate New York last spring. It was one of the first retreats to be held in North America as part of an initiative from Iskcon’s SSPT.
One thing I learned was a method of japa that originates from Bhurijana Prabhu. Yajna Purusha Prabhu, one of the instructors at the retreat, taught us the method. I have found this to be the best instruction I have come across to date in japa..and for that matter Krishna consciousness.
Step 1–Make a sankalpa to hear ONE mantra.
A sankalpa is a resolution or determination to do something. So the 1st step is to tell the mind to resolve to just hear one hare krishna maha mantra.
The idea is that it is a doable request. If we tell the mind to hear 16 rounds of mantra, or even 1 round….the mind is to powerful to heed such a big request. But if we tell the mind “Just hear this one mantra…” we have it in our power to force the mind to comply to at least this small request.
If the mind is really going wild and it wont even heed this small request, make a resolution to hear one half of a mantra. So request the mind to hear one (or a half) of the maha mantra…and that means to hear EVERY word in that mantra with no distraction.
Once this has been completed (the hearing of one whole mantra, hearing every word of the mantra), repeat. Again tell the mind “hear just one mantra”. Hear every word. Once this is done, repeat. Eventually the mind will succumb and it will hear one mantra after another. The mind will get absorbed in the sound vibration of the holy name.
Step 2. Neglect the mind
As the mind starts to become absorbed in the sound of the holy name, it will periodically rebel and try to drift to some other topic. So you must now neglect the attempts of the mind to deviate from the task of japa. It is like a child who wants something at the store…it will cry and cry, but the stern parent just ignores or neglects the misbehaviour.
In due course the child will get the message and calm down. Similarly the mind will introduce so many ideas and rationalizations for thinking something else, but one must just neglect the mind and force it back to japa.
Step 3. Take shelter of the Holy Name.
Now the mind is absorbed in the sound of the holy name. One’s whole existence is only the holy name….there is nothing else to be conscious of. So realize that the holy name is in fact Krishna Himself and surrender completely to Him, and accept Him in the form of the Holy Name as everything and all that we really ever will need.
Step 4. Obtain Krishna’s Mercy
If the Holy Name so desires, being pleased by our endevor He may bestow His mercy upon us and give us a glimpse of real bhakti and the sweetness of His loving friendship.

1. Make a sankalpa
2. Neglect the mind
3. Take shelter
4. Await Krishna’s mercy.
It really works! Hari Nama Ki Jay!
Mahatma Dasa, a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, joined the Hare Krishna movement in Berkeley, California, in 1969. He has served in the USA, Canada, South Africa, England, Mauritius, and India. He lives with his wife and daughter in Alachua, Florida, where he has his own recording studio and produces Krishna conscious music CDs.


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