“Simply our prayer should be, My dear Krishna, please remind me to always chant Your Holy Name, please do not put me into forgetfulness. You are sitting within me as Supersoul, so you can put me into forgetfulness or into remembering You. So please do not put me into forgetfulness. Please always remind me to chant, even You send me into the hell, it doesn’t matter, just so long as I can always chant Hare Krishna.”
– Srila Prabhupada (letter to Devananda, November 23, 1968)
A rookie soldier has a narrow experience of war, but when he studies military textbooks, his perspective broadens. Similarly, a novice in spiritual practices may take his mind-intelligence-ego too seriously and feel constricted in his growth. However, by reading inspiring stories and examples from wisdom books, he learns about men and women who faced similar challenges to our own. This learning helps him navigate through life’s myriad challenges, develop a moral compass, and seek comfort and solace. And during a particular provocation or stimuli, he would act in alignment with his vision and purpose.
Regular reading of scriptures means we trust an intelligence higher than our own to guide us in our spiritual journey. By studying scriptures, we also demonstrate humility and willingness to access this higher dimension, where we consider God, Krishna, to be situated.
Step 3 – LISTEN- mindfulness in prayer
In a healthy relationship, expressing your heart-felt emotions without the fear of judgment is vital. However, it is a two-way process, which also requires actively listening with an open heart. Similarly, in our relationship with God, we must also learn to ‘listen’ by paying attention to the sounds and silence within ourselves. When we chant sacred mantras, we should listen to the sound they create. When we pray at the altar or in a sacred space, we pause and ‘be’ present, hoping to hear what God wants to communicate to us.
Prayer is not just about communicating our desires to God; it is also about allowing God to communicate with us, sharing what He wants for us. However, if we live in our heads and do not take the time to listen, we will miss out on the messages that God has for us. Therefore, “pausing and listening” is an essential practice in spiritual life.
In the Hare Krishna movement, we incorporate the element of “listen” by focusing on the sound of the Hare Krishna mantra during our prescribed rounds of chanting on our beads. As we chant softly and finger the beads, our minds may wander, but we gently bring our attention back to the syllables of the Hare Krishna mantra to maintain focus.
Additionally, during other activities such as attending classes in the temple, interacting with other devotees, greeting the deities, or participating in sankirtan – congregational chanting of the Holy Names – we seek to ‘listen’ and remain present in the moment.
Following the first three steps as mentioned above means creating a culture that makes connecting to God easy.
As you try to get these principles in place, the three techniques discussed below would help you get a palpable experience of God.
The three techniques
The three techniques are: Commitment, Execution, and Return and report.
These are three practical methods that can help us experience God, provided we get the foundation of three principles that we discussed above, in place.
- Commitment – A promise of a specific practice
- Execution – Follow-up on the promise
- Return and report – Being accountable to God
Step – 4 – COMMITMENT – A promise of a specific practice
If you connect with scriptures and are mindful as you participate in spiritual services within a community, you may experience moments of epiphany. It could be during a prayer or chanting session, or while listening to a class, and you might feel inspired. Take note of that moment and experience, and make a commitment to God.
To be continued…