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Diaries by Sacinandana Swami

Gathering Gems (November 2010)

The highlight of my own experience during the Japa Retreat was when I could perceive a glimpse of how the Holy Name connects us with the personality – the svarupa – of Krsna. “Impersonal” japa feels mechanical, just like unconscious breathing – and it may turn into something which makes us shy away from our sacred practice of chanting our fixed number of rounds. It cannot really satisfy the soul’s deep longing for relationship with the Lord. But if we do indeed wish to chant japa in that personal connection, then attachment to the Lord is required. This attachment can be best gained in the association of devotees who already possess it or eagerly await it.

Speaking of which, we had one 83-year-old devotee – Mother Indrani – with us, who was severely afflicted by bodily ailments. Towards the end of the retreat, she passed in and out of consciousness (as she had many times in recent years). On the last day of the retreat, eyes glowing with enthusiasm, she shared the following wisdom: “Work on that one relationship while you can and your bodies are still in working order. Aspire, cry, beg! …It’s all that counts.” Her example and words affected me profoundly.

Later, by the grace of Yajna Purusa Prabhu, I heard a powerful recommendation from Srila Prabhupada on how to chant with full attention: “Just try to hear yourself chant sincerely.” I’d not encountered it before. And this simple piece of advice (that almost sounds like the enigmatic instructions by a Zen Master) has profound depth to it. The potency in this instruction is that it forcefully catches the mind and quickly brings the chanter into the sacred inner space of the heart.

To conclude the experience of our Japa retreat 2010 at the Elkins Estate, I wrote a personal letter to the Holy Name encapsulating my feelings towards Him. I would like to now offer you some excerpts from this little “love letter”:

My Dear Nama Prabhu,

Please accept my prostrated obeisances and my sincere attempt to write You a letter that reaches beyond the confines of my material universe and connects with You directly, in Your world. I have heard from Your pure servant, my Srila Prabhupada, all about Your glories, and I believe everything, because I have surrendered myself to his care. All that I ask of You is to kindly invite me again into a meaningful relationship with You, so that I may finally regain my real life of service to You and Your divine associates.

To meet You is truly my only desire and my only project. By Your grace, this divine prospect is now beginning to take shape, deep within my heart. Please do not trust or answer the myriad inauthentic voices and messages which my diverted mind may sometimes send Your way. But rather, please flood my heart with the unlimited sweetness that gives rise to an almost maddening attachment for You. And in this way, may You and Srimati Radharani be glorified supremely with my every breath, for eternal time.

Your helpless, yet hopeful soul, still in this world,
Sacinandana Swami

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