Approaching japa as a system

11021342_10152597623386433_5285402223995859019_oSince wondering what the difference between meditation and japa is (if you look past the whole potency of Gods names), I’ve come to understand that what I’m really searching for is techniques. In meditation there usually is some techniques involved – sitting posture, breathing and of course, dealing with the mind.

If you look at meyer-briggs personality types, I’m an INTJ which translates to analytical problem solvers (if you read to the end of the intj link you will see the statement that intj’s are least likely of all the types to believe in a higher spiritual power). So it only comes natural to me to approach spiritual life as a system I need to crack. Sadhana is about service, but also about developing feelings of attachment, taste and love through service. In these different levels of feelings, there is symptoms that categorize on what level you are, so there is a system to spiritual life that sings to me. Feelings doesn’t really translate itself to me – but systems on the other hand is something I can work on.

So if I approach Japa meditation as techniques (aka a system), I have found these techniques so far on my japa journey:

1. Reject any thoughts that are unfavorable for japa. For example, if you think chanting is hard, it will become hard.
2. Put any thoughts not related to Krishna on the side for the japa session. When chanting the mind start roving about, but leave those thoughts to the side and instead treat the japa session as a conversation with Krishna.
3. Record activities in a weekly diary

In a comment by Syamanada Prabhu, he mentions that we’re to hear each syllable of each mantra for the whole japa session. This can be labeled as a consequence of Japa. When I leave the thought that chanting is hard, I’ve experienced that chanting flows on its own accord and is actually dragging me along as long as I don’t interfere with it. Is that a consequence of Japa, or is it part of the labor? Or may be, it is a symptom?

So we have the job itself (japa), a few techniques, symptoms and consequences attached to Japa meditation. So I now canΒ  try to categorize japa and how it works within these categories. Also, to record activities in a weekly diary doesn’t qualify as a technique, but more as a measuring stick.

Then we have the whole namabhasa and aparadhas, which I haven’t even touched upon. I’ve only begun the work on deciphering this japa system, but I think I have understood the right way for me to approach the understanding of it.

6 thoughts on “Approaching japa as a system

  1. Thank you for the INTJ link, that makes things a little clearer. I was always annoyed by your mechanistic ideas. πŸ™‚ But it’s nice to see how Bhakti-devi just doesn’t care whether someone is unlikely to believe in a higher power or not.

    I need new techniques all the time, because my mind gets bored with them quickly. But lately I’ve found that there is one technique that I keep coming back to, because it charms me.

    Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur said that one can think of touching Mahaprabhu’s feet while touching the beads. And Tulasi is said to be a manifestation of Krishna. So I tried just staying conscious of the touch of each bead, rather than trying to focus on the maha mantra. Naturally the mind wants to escape whatever I have it focused on, and the easiest thing for the mind to escape into at this point is: the maha mantra! Tricked you! And if I actually succeed to focus on the bead touch, that’s fine as well. I still hear the mantra.

  2. Sorry for blurting out my mind like that. I should have said:

    Thank you for the INTJ article, it explains things. I had difficulty understanding your mechanical ideas about Krishna consciousness. Fortunately Bhakti-devi does not consider our personality types when she makes ingress in us, and once she has she figures out how to engage our traits and somehow dovetail them.

    There is structure to sadhana, which has some similarity to mechanics. But it’s not like you put the coin in the machine and get your soda bottle. That would be karma-marg.

  3. On the contrary, I found it quite refreshing for you to vent your feelings πŸ™‚ I haven’t responded because I’ve been busy/haven’t had a computer around for the last couple of days. If there is some direction you feel I’m missing, please let me know because I love to hear different viewpoints.

    I agree that these techniques doesn’t reward bhakti-devi – but they might πŸ˜‰
    I see everything as systems, I even go so far as viewing people as systems I need to analyze and create strategies/approaches to deal with. So these techniques (as I call them) are for me motivational. It’s a way to avoid that japa becomes a chore/repetative, but instead something I truly work on. I use them as means to go deeper and deeper into japa. My biggest fear is that my japa doesn’t provide any results/useless.

    I understand that my approach seems mechanical, but what I strive for is actually the opposite. To avoid that my japa becomes mechanical, I keep on working to find approaches to make it ever-fresh. This is how I deal with everything in my life. If I have a goal, I analyze it and try on different approaches until I get the desired results – and never give up.

    So in this case your feeling of irritability πŸ˜€ tells me that I have forgotten to communicate a key point – the reason why I take the approach I do (which is to keep up my motivation for japa).

  4. he he, and btw – if we consider my statements on criticism, I should be able to deal with such a small statement as irritability and a whole lot more than that πŸ˜€

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