Isn’t repeating the same mantra boring?

by November 24, 2010

Question: Chanting the holy names of God like the Hare Krishna mahamantra involves doing the same activity repeatedly. Isn’t that boring?

Answer: No. Let’s understand why.

For most people, their daily life is boring. In fact, people often watch TV not because the TV programs are so interesting, but because their daily lives are so boring. Why does life seem boring? Because we are intrinsically spiritual beings and our most essential need is love. The experience of loving and being loved is the ultimate foundation of all happiness. To the extent love is absent in an activity or a relationship, to that extent it becomes a boredom or a burden. Even if we somehow invest our love in it, often the lack of adequate reciprocation disappoints us. That’s why we continuously try out new things: new video games, new gadgets, new dresses, new cars, new houses, new jobs, even new spouses. Though all these new concoctions disappoint us eventually, but we get addicted to the intoxicating pleasure offered by their initial newness. Due to this addiction to newness, we presume that doing the same activity repeatedly, as in chanting, would be boring.

But this presumption overlooks something essential: love.

A mother offers her breast-milk to her baby hundreds of times. Does she find it boring? Obviously not – at least not when the mother loves the baby. When the mother offers her love through her milk, the more the activity is repeated, the deeper becomes her love and the greater her fulfillment.

Similarly, when we chant the holy names of God, will we find chanting boring? Certainly not – at least not if we chant lovingly. When we offer our love to God, Krishna, by chanting his holy names, he reciprocates by flooding our hearts with his unlimited oceanic love. So every instance of chanting takes us deeper into that delightful ocean of divine nectar and thus the more we chant lovingly, the more we find chanting relishable.

The mother-baby analogy illustrates how a repetitive activity doesn’t have to be boring. But, like all analogies, it has limitations. By chanting, we don’t nourish God; he nourishes our heart with his supreme love. Also, intensity of the mother-baby relationship dwindles as the baby grows up and needs other food, and as the breast-milk stops. The intensity of the soul-God relationship, on the other hand, becomes ever-increasingly intense as our devotion for God deepens.

In fact, when we develop a taste for the divine love that becomes accessible by chanting, we can find inner delight in all situations – including deadly boring situations. Then we realize that chanting leads not to boredom, but to freedom from all boredom.

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