How can we make the effect of hearing last for long?
Transcribed and edited by: Vrindasundari Devi Dasi
How can we make the effect of chanting last? We hear but the effect doesn’t seem to last. The effect of chanting doesn’t seem to last for a few more days. How can we make the effect of hearing last?
-Hearing is like food. Just like we need to eat regularly for physical nourishment, similarly we need to hear regularly for spiritual nourishment.
-As we continue to chant and practice bhakti, there is a cumulative effect. Our default responses to the mind’s desires will increasingly change to sharpened right responses.
Firstly, hearing is like food. It’s not that we expect that because we ate yesterday we should have energy today. Yesterday I got energy by eating, and if I want energy today, I have to eat today. Hearing is like food and we need to hear regularly. There is no substitute for regular hearing. By regular hearing we get spiritual nourishment.
Second point is that when we eat properly nourishing food, it’s not just that our hunger is satisfied but our body also gets built. We become healthier overall. Similarly, by regular hearing, even if it seems that we are hearing but forgetting, but at least during that process of hearing we are connecting with Krishna. That connection with Krishna purifies us. The purification will have a cumulative effect. That cumulative effect will come in the form of changed responses by us. Let us understand how.
Consider the example of a young firefighter. The young firefighter undergoes training then goes in the fire truck for the first time. When he jumps out of the fire truck, gets the hose, then looks up, he sees such a huge blaze and drops the fire hose in horror. All that training is forgotten in the face of that blazing fire and the panic created by it. But since the fire fighter is trained, even though there is shock at the sight of that huge fire, the reflexes are trained. The more trained the firefighter, the quicker the reflexes. There might be a default panic but immediately there is a switch back to the professional mode and he starts operating the hose and extinguishing the fire. As the fire fighter becomes more and more trained, the selection of right reaction becomes faster and faster. Similarly, when the fire of desire starts burning in our consciousness, initially we may think “I’ve got such desires, what is the use of my chanting? What can I do, just forget it!” We may become panicky. “I have got desires, it means now I am fallen.” Temptations will come, but we don’t have to welcome them. As we become trained in the process of bhakti, then by the practice of bhakti our response becomes sharper. How? The desires may come and one can understand that they’ve simply come because of one’s past conditionings, and one does not have to accept them. Krishna uses a beautiful word, kāma-kāmī, in 2.70 Bhagavad-gita:
samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat
tadvat kāmā yaṁ praviśanti sarve
sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī
A person who is not disturbed by the incessant ﬂow of desires – that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being ﬁlled but is always still – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.
Kama means desire. Kami means the desirer.
Do not be a desirer of desire. A desire may come but we don’t have to accept that desire. On seeing advertisements, for example, one may sit and daydream “When will I get this, when will I get that?” The advertisements often promise happiness. When we become devotees, we may understand that things are not going to make us happy, but is it that the advertisement agencies going to stop advertising because of that? No, there job is to keep advertising. Our job is not to pay too much attention to the advertisements. Just as there are outer advertisement agencies who will keep advertising, the mind is maya’s internal advertising agent. The mind is going to keep advertising maya. “Hey come on, enjoy this, eat this, go there, do that…!” The mind keeps propositioning and glamorizing material enjoyment but we don’t believe it.
The trained firefighter sees the fire but there is a quick, right response. Similarly, as we keep hearing regularly, our default response will change to right. Desire comes and initially one may feel agitated wondering why this desire has come and one may feel tempted also. But then one can think “The desire has come because of past conditioning and I don’t have to succumb to that desire. I don’t have to indulge in that desire.” If we absorb ourselves in Krishna, we take the fire hose of the holy name—hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare, hare rama hare rama rama rama hare hare—and we extinguish that fire of desire. The quicker we do this, the purer our life will become.