Kali yuga Japa Counter!
O Dear Readers, a warning: If ye know not what a clicker be, turn ye back now! Runneth and chanteth upon thy beads! For verily ye may think thy japa grand, but be ye warned, if ye readeth on, may ye suffer the likely fate that follows such terror, such evil… such illusion as The Clicker!!
It was a dark and stormy night, the soft sounds of “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna…” could be heard over the sporadic crashes of thunder. Three devotees were finishing up their rounds for the day, racing against time and thinking of all the other service they had to do as well. Their minds drifted from the chanting to washing pots, gardening and driving to the store to get supplies.
Between the rumblings of thunder, between maha-mantras and the quiet wooden knocking of japa beads, there could be heard, though hardly audible at first, an ugly metallic click. As it drew nearer, the clicks grew louder… and louder… Until the devotees knew that the clicking was in time with their japa. As they would finish chanting a mantra… “Click!”… Another mantra… “Click!”
They were startled. This clicking was all around them. Moving closer and closer, louder and louder. They stopped chanting and suddenly before them it stood. Shiny and round with a lever fit for a giant’s thumb. The number “1728” peered down at them.
“You are up late, young devotees,” it seemed to say. “Your rounds are depriving you of sleep. They are taking time away from your many services. You are letting the other devotees down! They all think you’re lazy because your service doesn’t get finished! Here, let me help you.”
And with that, the three devotees each opened their hands to discover tiny versions of this colossal round metal thing… this gigantic clicker. It has reproduced itself into three identical very concealable little machines.
The clicker spoke again: “Each time you chant a mantra, click this once. It will keep track for you! And now your hands are practically free! You can chant and drive, wash pots and garden!” It was like the clicker could read their minds.
And then he was gone. Disappeared through the mists of the storm. The devotees looked at each other. Was this the answer to their prayers?
“This is ecstatic!” said one devotee. “Now I can do all of my rounds AND all of my service!”
“You’re right!,” said the second devotee, “This will solve all of our problems! Jaya!” But the third devotee felt uneasy. “I don’t know, prabhu’s, it’s true that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of our service and all of our rounds, but shouldn’t we maybe sleep less or budget our time better? We spend a good part of our day just goofing off instead of chanting. I even took a nap during morning japa today! No. I want to chant better rounds and just get my spiritual life back on track. I think I’ll stick with my beads.”
The other two laughed at him, took their new clickers and chanted off through the night. The remaining devotee looked at the clicker in his hand. He examined it, going over every detail, noticing every curve, side and function.
It could have been the flash of lightning or maybe a passing car, but he thought he saw something within the clicker. It was slight and now it was gone, leaving nothing but an foreboding sense of evil. Was his mind just playing tricks on him? No. It was the clicker. A cold streak flew down his back. Every muscle in his body tensed. Every brain cell in his head screamed “throw it away, get rid of it!” And so he launched it high into the air, over shrubs and trees until it vanished into the darkness from whence it came….
A week passed and he could see the other two devotees still struggling with their service. Still up late clicking and chanting and washing pots or gardening. He hadn’t seen them at morning program in a few days. He asked how they had been.
“Good.” They replied. “These clickers are perfect! Chanting it so easy now! I hardly notice that I’m doing it!”
And then he noticed the look in their eyes. For a quick second it was identical to what he had seen in the clicker that night one week before. He could tell it had taken them over. They looked famished, like they hadn’t chanted in days!
Throughout the next week or two, he began to notice more devotees using the clickers. The pleasant sound of wooden beads softly rubbing against each other was replaced with the scraping metal noise of the clickers. Where he used to distinctly hear “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” he now hear only this strange mumbling. He noticed the same look in more and more devotees’ eyes. As time went on, he felt out numbered.
A few of the devotees started trying to talk him into using the clicker. He refused, and they became almost hostile. When he told them that he’d rather chant attentively, they became angry and defensive: “My rounds are FINE!”
In a very short while it reached its climax. Everyone was clicking but him. Japa period turned into a clicking period where you could do pretty much anything at all. Cooking, cleaning, running errands, doing chores… all while chanting on your clicker! The temple became almost devoid of joy. The service that could so easily be done with the clicker was being abandoned for more mundane tasks like checking email and even watching TV!
He had had his fill of these clickers! If someone wasn’t going to do something about it, he would do something about it! The next morning as he walked into japa period to the sounds of strange mumblings and clicking and more clicking he exclaimed, “ENOUGH! Don’t you see what these clickers have done to you? Don’t you see how they’ve killed your devotion, your sadhana. Can’t you see how they’ve murdered your love for the holy names of Krishna? Look at you all! This isn’t japa! This is… MAYA!”
And with those words, the temple doors flew open! Standing just inside the threshold was the gigantic metal clicker he met all those weeks ago.
But this time he was ready! “Clicker! You are in Krishna’s temple! How dare you step foot in here! You didn’t even offer obeisances!”
“HA!” Exclaimed the clicker, “I may be in Krishna’s temple, but where is Krishna? These devotees are not His devotees, oh no! They are mine… all mine!” The clicker was right. It was this lone devotee against a virtual army of clickers! The clicking mob turned towards him. Mumbling closer and closer… the clicks becoming louder and louder until the final crescendo was nearing, until it hit… and…. “HARE KRISHNA!” Screamed the devotee with more feeling and attention than ever before. He said it with such conviction and love. Love, not just for the holy name and for Krishna, but love for the devotees who were trying to click the spiritual life right out of themselves. The transcendental vibration hardly came from his lips, but from his soul.
The clicking crowd stopped in their tracks. What was this? What had happened? The devotee eyed the gigantic metal clicker, still standing in the doorway. The clicker looked stunned. How had this devotee resisted? How could anyone resist such tempation?
Regaining their illusion, the mob clicked closer. Like spiritless zombies they slowly gathered around him mumbling something indecipherable, rhythmic, yet… nothing at all. Their words, if they were words at all, were unnatural slurs, one word drifting into the next. And then it dawned on him. “Oh Krishna!” He whispered to himself in disbelief. How could this be so? How could this have happened. “That mumbling, that slurring… that’s…,” he could hardly speak the words, “that’s their… japa!”
The horror set in. It was up to this lone devotee to destroy this thing, this murderous metal chunck of maya!
As the clicking dead nearly covered him, he could see the gigantic metal clicker snarling by the doorway of the temple, cackling to the devotee, “This time I’ve got you! Where is your precious maha-mantra NOW?!”
And with all the devotion this bhakta could muster, he took a deep breath, held tight to his japa beads, closed his eyes and very softly and joyously, with all the humility he could muster began to chant.
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
The gigantic clicker was beaten! A shock of panic appeared on its face. It was the end for this clicker. With each passing maha-mantra the clicker backed farther away, out of the temple room, out side on the grounds, broken and bleeding and rusty, this clicker had clicked its last click!
The assembled devotees seemed to all wake up at once to the beautiful and pure chanting of this single devotee. They rubbed their eyes and looked down at their hands. The clickers that were destroying their sadhana were gone, reduced to nothing but dust to be swept up after their rounds where attentively chanted.
They gathered around this devotee once again, praising him and his devotion, his chanting and his spiritual life. They sang his glories over and over, so relieved to have been woken from their horrible dreams, their clicking nightmare. But their praise only made him blush. He had no desire to hear this, what if it went to his head? So as they laughed and came one by one to embrace this devotee, he politely backed away, smiled and said, “No. Best to just chant Hare Krishna.”
Now, dear readers, for those of you who don’t know, a “clicker” is your basic “inventory counter.” It’s a small, usually metal, hand-held counting device. You press your thumb on the button and it ticks off another number.
So what does this have to do with chanting japa? Sadly, a lot. Since the “clicker” is a great counter of things too large for fingers and toes, and since it’s pretty small, some devotees, who shall remain nameless, use them to count their rounds. One click for each mantra.
Those who use clickers know that beads are best. When in the temple, of course, they use beads. So it isn’t a question of what is better. What it turns into is a question of quality.
Clickers are used to chant rounds when a bead bag just wont do. Mostly it is because of inconvenience. These chanters use the clicker because they’re driving or cleaning or checking email, basically doing things where a bead bag would probably get in the way. But what is interesting about these situations is that if a bead bag can’t be used while performing certain tasks, should japa be chanted then anyway?
Yes it’s true, you can chant “Hare Krishna” anywhere at any time. However, when you’re serious enough to start counting how much japa you’re chanting, and you’re trying to improve both quantity and quality, these are not the kind of rounds you want to be doing.
Japa should be chanted in a situation where you’re not going to be distracted. When you chant using a clicker, the chanting is oftentimes a distraction to what you’re supposed to be doing. If you’re using a clicker while driving, are you paying attention to the road or to the holy name?
As a general rule of thumb is that if you can’t use your beads, you’re probably not chanting attentive japa. Not that attentive japa automatically comes when you pick up your beads. It’s got to be worked upon, like anything else. But using a clicker is not the way to do it.
Japa is meditation. It’s very important to remember that. To meditate, the mind must be fixed upon something. Since chanting japa is mantra meditation, we have to have them fixed upon the sound of the mantra. This is impossible to do if we’re clicking away while driving or gardening or washing pots.
So be ye warned! It is still out there! Clicking in wait for ye minds to wander from thy japa. Do not dare give it chance to get a foot hold on ye! Holdeth thou tight to thine beads, holdeth thy mind close to the holy name and chant like life itself depended upon it!