By Devaki devi dasi
All of us chant the maha-mantra, but how much are we struggling to come to the platform of purely chanting the holy name. This struggle is so important for we all contend with constant stimulation from our mobile phones and the Internet that often distract us from relishing the holy name, our most valuable jewel.
At times we may have to admit that we don’t take our chanting as the most important activity in our life.
Bhaktivinoda Thakur describes in Harinam Cintamani how inattentiveness is the root cause of all other nama-aparadhas, and that this inattentiveness can manifest on three levels: the body, the mind and the heart. Each one of these levels affects the other levels. However, attentiveness in chanting has to begin with the level of the body. As long as we allow ourselves to do other things while we chant, we cannot be attentive on the level of the mind or heart.
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur urged us: “Make your chanting heart deep, not just lip-deep.”
The involvement of the heart in chanting is not such an easy thing. It requires endeavor and cultivation, an awarness that Krsna is a person wanting to connect with us through His holy name, and above all it requires humility.
Gour Govinda Maharaja explains: “The pot of the heart must be made up of four constituents: humility, tolerance, respect and pridelessness. Mahaprabhu is the giver and you are the receiver. But if your pot is not made up of these constituents, how can you receive?”
Unless we enter deeper levels of chanting the holy name - in kirtan as well as in japa, we may eventually lose the taste and attraction for both. How long can we chant sixteen rounds every day, if we chant our japa as a dry, mechanical, impersonalistic and ritualistic duty? How long will we feel inspired to join the kirtans, if kirtan for us is simply a musical performance or meant for our fun - jumping around in wild acrobatics or engaging in elaborate dancing performances?
Sooner or later we may lose interest in the holy name and begin looking for pleasure elsewhere . . .
Holy Name Retreats can quickly transport us to a realm of relishing japa and kirtan that we may never have experienced before. Spending some days in seclusion, away from all our usual duties and distractions creates an atmosphere conducive to deepening our relationship with the holy name.
Hearing about the glories of the holy name in the holy dham in the association of like-minded devotees and practically applying what we have heard â€“ in kirtan and in japa, as well as performing powerful learning experiences in pairs has enormous potential to stimulate profound devotional growth.
During such retreats many experience a different reality â€“ associating with Krsna in person through His holy name! We can learn to open our heart and allow the holy name to do His mysterious work on it.
A team of enlivened Vaisnavais will conduct the first Vaisnavi Holy Name Retreat at Ekachakra, the birthplace of Lord Nityananda from January 5th to 9th, 2013.
Please go to www.theholynameretreat.net for more details.
We are looking forward to serving you and relishing the holy name in your sanga.