catur-vidhā bhajante māḿ
janāḥ sukṛtino ‘rjuna
ārto jijñāsur arthārthī
jñānī ca bharatarṣabha
It’s a long time since I chanted this much. The latest book I’m reading is Surrender: The Key to Eternal Life and I’m understanding now that to make any progress I have to check myself. How much devotional practice did I do yesterday? Can I see any progress? I have to treat my devotional life like a checkpoint list. I may not be able to progress without any real sadhu-sanga, but there is no way I will let something like that stop me.
Because here’s the thing: my life is meaningless without spirituality in it. It’s the only thing which makes the drudgery and utter futility of my life worth it. I now get up about 5 am every morning for my spiritual practice. I go to work and go through the motions every day, but I feel dead most of the time. I don’t live, I don’t know what it means to have a meaningful life, waking up happy and feeling good. My intelligence and heart is screaming at me: It’s not supposed to be like this. The only time my heart goes still is when I spend time at my spiritual practice. It’s the time when I feel something besides disheartening emotions and sadness. So what is it I feel then? Am I really so out of touch with positive emotions that I can’t name what spirituality do to me?
But keeping tabs on my spiritual life is something I can do. Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja had 27 vows he observed daily in his grhastha life. I will have to make up my own list and borrow some from him:
- How many hours did you sleep?
- At what time did you get out of bed?
- How many malas of japa did you chant today?
- How long did you spend in nama, nama-smarana, kirtana today?
- How many pranayamas (meditations) did you do today?
- For how long did you perform asana today?
- For how long did you perform one asana?
- Were you regular in your meditation today?
- How many Gita slokas did you read today or learn by heart?
- How long did you spend in the company of sadhis today (sat-sanga)?
- For how long did you observe mauna (silence) today?
- How long did you spend in disinterested selfless service today?
- How much did you give in charity today?
- How many mantras did you write today?
- How long did you practice in physical exercise today?
- How many lies did you tell today, and what did you do to atone for this?
- How many times did you get angry today, and for how long and what was your atonement?
- How many hours did you spend in useless company today?
- How many times did you fail in brahmacarya (celibacy) today?
- How long did you spend today in the study of religious books?
- How many times did you fall prey to evil habits, and with self-punishment?
- How long did you concentrate on your ista-deva, nirguna meditation-spiritual and saguna meditation-material?
- What virtues are you developing?
- What evil qualities are you trying to eradicate?
- What indriya (sense) is troubling you the most?
- How many days did you observe in fasting and vigilance?
- At what time did you go to bed?
And one can read Gour Govindas excellent biography online, free of charge 😀