The Best and Worst of Japa

From Back to Godhead

By Dwarakadhisha Devi Dasi

I love chanting japa—some days. Other days, I endure chanting japa. It seems to be bliss or boredom. On the good days I am enthralled. Krishna feels very close, and very dear. Not that I’m seeing visions or hearing voices—nothing dramatic that would excite the tabloid crowd. The experience is closer to returning home after a long, arduous journey. Such a sweet pleasure from the simple fingering of beads, the rhythmic repetition of the maha- mantra:Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.

But then there are the bad days. Unfortunately, when I speak of bad days I don’t mean an occasional lapse. There are so many bad days they could actually be divided into categories: sick days, cold days, sleepy days, busy days, lonely days, traveling days, foul-mood days, messy-house days, family-visiting days, summer-vacation days, lots-on-my-mind days, too-many-kids-around days, all of the days between Christmas and New Year—those are just a few. And there are others that spring up unannounced, defying categorization.

The paradox is that while there is always some really appealing excuse for the mental gyrations that prevent good japa, it is precisely the resultant inattention that makes chanting seem a chore, a task to be endured. Good japa is a pleasure in the deepest sense. And yet the persuasions of the mind steal this pleasure from me again and again.

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