This Mantra Is Dangerous
I was chanting japa around the fountain at the Alachua temple with Mahatma Prabhu. He told me a few things about chanting:
"This mantra is dangerous. It will make you want to renounce the world." And,
"We hold back from surrendering because we're afraid of pain, like the dentist is going to hit a nerve or something. And so we don't surrender in our chanting."
Then he asked me, "What's worse—meat eating, or namaparadha (offenses to the name of God)?"
I said, "Well, my knee-jerk reaction is that namaparadha is worse, because meat-eating is something you can get over quicker."
"That's the perfect answer," he said. "You get five gold stars."
After he left, I kept chanting, walking around the fountain, for over an hour, with very, very few interruptions—the way chanting is supposed to be.
At one point, Radha-Gopinatha Prabhu came over and said, "How are you?"
I said, "Do you want my stock answer, or a genuine answer?"
He said, "I don't know why I asked you that. I never ask anybody that because at my work I always hear people asking each other that, and they don't really care how it is you're doing. And if you actually tell them how you are doing, they're not prepared to hear it most of the time."
"All right, then. I'll give you both answers. Stock answer: I have absolutely no idea, but I'm here, so I could be in a lot worse shape. Genuine answer: I'm grateful to be able to chant by this fountain, but also very happy to have friends such as you, who care enough to ask me how I'm doing, even though you know you're likely to get more of an answer than you wanted to hear."