Open Your Heart (Thoughts on Chanting Japa)
Every one of us has a propensity to love. It is the very nature of the soul. The soul loves Krishna.
In the conditioned state of existence, this loving propensity is misguided, misdirected, misunderstood and misused. The heart has become hardened, do to contact with the material energy, and our own desire to be separate from Krishna.
In this age of Kali Yuga, the process of reawakening this natural dormant love of God, that the soul feels, is chanting the holy names. The holy name cleanses the heart, and opens it. This chanting is the process.
Chanting the holy name is a prayer. It's a prayer to Krishna to have a relationship with Him. The mantra means "please engage me in Your service". To engage in service to Krishna is to be engaged in a relationship with Krishna. We are servants. Our relationship with Krishna is as a servant. So, when we chant japa, we are in essence asking Krishna to allow us to be engaged (involved in) a relationship with Him.
Krishna reciprocates with the desires of every living entity. Whatever desire we hold in our heart, that is the desire Krishna reciprocates with. When we are chanting japa, it helps to have a desire to open our hearts and let our loving relationship with Krishna be revived. Remember that chanting is praying. We are not just reciting mantras, we are praying.
This mood of heart felt prayer and devotion applied to chanting makes the chanting more effective. Think of it this way..... if you wanted something very much, and you decided to pray for it, how would you do it? Would you just kind of casually mention that you wanted it.... while thinking about 20 other things? Not likely..... if you really wanted it, you would focus, put your heart into it, asking for it with all you had.
In the conditioned state it's very hard to desire Krishna this way. We desire all kinds of other things, and put our hearts into getting them. As we become more serious about our spiritual life, this becomes less and less about gross material things, and more about subtle things, like the desires of the false ego. We have all these other desires that get in the way of really praying with our heart and soul for love of God.
Still, we all have this desire to love Krishna.
So as we chant, we can focus on opening our hearts to Krishna and praying for our relationship with Him. Make the mantra a prayer to Krishna with as much desire and sincerity and devotion as you have. Be willing to become purified. Be willing to love Krishna. Be willing to give up material attachments. This willingness is in itself the desire to love Krishna manifested. Until we are pure in our desire to love Krishna, that love manifests as willingness.
I am willing to surrender to You, Krishna. I am willing to serve You. I am willing to love You. I am willing to become purified. I am willing to let go of my material attachments. I am willing to develop my relationship with You.
This willing desire can take the form of prayer to Krishna in this way while chanting japa.
We just have to be ~ willing ~ to put our hearts into it.
Chanting japa is much more effective when it is done with the devotion, love, and willingness of the heart.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare