Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Just Chant The Names of the Lord and You'll Be Free!

You dont need no love in
You dont need no bed pan
You dont need a horoscope or a microscope
The see the mess that youre in
If you open up your heart
You will know what I mean
Weve been polluted so long
Now heres a way for you to get clean

By chanting the names of the lord and youll be free
The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see
Chanting the names of the lord and youll be free
The lord is awaiting on you all to awaken and see-George Harrison

I just returned from my first Japa Retreat experience, courtesy of Bhagavat Life at the natural and meditative surroundings of the Delphi University and Spiritual Center in Northern Georgia.

Bhagavat Life, and these Retreats, are the brainchild and pride and joy of HG Purusa Sukta Das and his good wife Divyambar Devi Dasi. Purusa was one of the first devotees I met back in my heady days in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and introduced me to chanting to japa, making sure that I wasn't too freaked out by the descriptions of ecstatic symptoms that came along with the education.

Heck, I wasn't freaked out! Ecstatic symptoms! Bring em on! Still feel that way, and at this Japa Retreat, I even got a small taste of what it's all really about in calling upon the Holy Name of the Lord.

We were graced with the divine presences of HH Sacinandana Maharaja and HH Giriraja Maharaja, who provided us all eager beavers with the philosophical and practical know-how to CHANT GOOD JAPA NOW!

Here's some of the highlights from my extensive notes...
-By serving the Holy Name (and the servants of the Holy Name), one gets the mercy of the Holy Name.
-Chanting japa digs up what you bury down in yourself. It's a strong tonic for our material ills.
-It's not about any kind of mystic experience. It's about love and developing our relationship with Krsna.
-Our problems, which are distractions to our chanting and hearing, can only be solved by chanting and hearing properly.
-Krsna witnesses and appreciates our struggle in chanting, and He will provide His mercy.
-ALIGNMENT is the key to bridging the gap between just chanting and chanting with taste. We must align our body with proper posture and renunciation, our mind with focus on the Name and neglect of everything else that comes up, and our heart with a humble approach to chanting.
-We should find our external sacred space (clean, quiet, devotional) and find our inner sacred space (focused, peaceful, and determined mindset).
-Prabhupada always encouraged devotees to chat more that the minimum of sixteen rounds. We see great devotees like Bhakti-Tirtha Swami who took this upon themselves in their own sadhana and made incredible advancement.
-Just by hearing the sound of the Holy Name, we accomplish everything our heart and soul desires.
-It boils down to Bhurijana Prabhu's 4 Keys to Attentive Chanting
1. Hear one mantra at a time (the only mantra that counts is the one you're chanting right now.
2. Neglect the mind (even if it's a thought about your seva, let it go)
3. Humility (we can't overcome the mind without begging for Krsna's mercy)
4. His causeless mercy (Only Krsna can only the floodgates of nectar that come from attentive chanting)

On one find Saturday we took a vow of silence and tried our hearts out to chant 64 rounds. For myself, it was the complete spectrum of my experience in chanting all at once. From complete bliss and real heart-opening pleasure to trying swallow the bitter medicine for my soul.

I can safely say that I have had the strong realization that I've never truly heard the Holy Name before, at least not in the way where I really felt it opening my heart, offering my humbled, fallen self a small glimpse into what an intimate relationship with Krsna is like.

All the time I simply tried to meditate that the truly translucent and transcendent personalities, like Prabhupada, Lord Caitanya, and Rupa Goswami, were feeding me pots of nectar into my ears. I beg simply to always be a recipient of such causeless mercy.

I think constantly about the need in our society of devotees for us all to care of each other, to concentrate on our devotional needs, in order to have the strength needed to carry on Prabhupada's mission in the crazy world. "A Revolution of the Heart", one might say.

I can safely say that Bhagavat Life, with these Japa Retreats, is on the cutting edge of this revolution. I, with all my heart, strongly recommend you take advantage of these Retreats. It works!