I like to enter the retreat mood by collecting wildflowers to arrange vases for our altar and Srila Prabhupada's Vyasasana. It is my favorite devotional meditation, which prepares me for the retreat. And I managed to find a nice variety of flowers and greenery to arrange beautiful compositions. Krishna likes the wildflowers the best....
We had a nice group of serious devotees who eagerly participated and tuned into the mood.
In order to inspire us to declare war to our inattentiveness, let us become fully aware of the tangible and almost measurable benefits we can derive and directly observe in our life, when appealing to the Lord in a deep and prayerful mood.
We will feel more connected with Krishna, and our relationship with Him will become tangible reality for us. This will practically manifest in our daily life in the following ways:
* We will feel genuinely inspired to serve Krishna and His devotees. This inspiration and enthusiasm will be very steady, and not predominantly driven by the mode of passion. Even if we have to serve in ways we did not intend, or we don't get the desired result, we will nevertheless manifest a genuine inspiration to serve. After all, we are meant to fill our chanting with longing to serve! Surely we will eventually reach the state where we genuinely desire to serve!
* Our inspiration to serve will also manifest in our desire to serve the Deities. Krishna will reveal Himself to us more deeply in His Deity form, and thus we will not only see a marble, brass or wooden statue, but perceive Krishna's presence in His archa vigraha.
In many of our temples we face an acute lack of pujaris, even though we may have many second initiated devotees in our communities. The root cause is inattentive chanting. While we are hovering on an external level of our chanting, Krishna will not reveal Himself to us, and thus we cannot perceive Krishna's presence in His Deity form. And we will not feel impelled to serve Him.
* Our inspiration to serve will also show in our desire to give financial support and offer charity. We realize that Krishna is the supreme proprietor and enjoyer of everything. Whatever is allotted to us is meant to be used in the service to Him and His devotees. We will develop the understanding that we are meant to only use for ourselves whatever is required to keep body and soul together.
* Krishna will reveal Himself more tangibly by giving us realizations. Realizations are not received merely through studies of the shastra, but they are awarded by the Lord in reciprocation to our love and devotion when chanting and serving. We will be able to recognize maya's and also Krishna's workings. And we can connect all situations in life with Krishna being behind them. We can perceive Him in every situation in life. Thus our faith in Him becomes strong and ultimately unflinching.
* We will develop a taste to chant more. Attentive chanting produces more attentive chanting.
* We will gain a taste and attraction for reading Srila Prabhupada's books, and later also other books of our previous acharyas. It is a topic frequently discussed in ISKCON, how we can inspire devotees to spend more time reading the shastra, while painfully observing that many devotees don't spend much time at all reading Srila Prabhupada's books. The root cause of this phenomenon is inattentive chanting, when our taste and vision will remain mundane.
* We will lose taste and attraction to sense gratification. Sense enjoyment will become bland and dull to us-a boring waste of time! Rather, we like to use every single minute of the day in a meaningful way in service to Krishna and His devotees. Especially our attraction to sex life will vanish.
* We experience a steady level of joy, satisfaction and happiness, which is beyond the influence of the mode of passion. Even when facing reversals, challenges and calamities, we nevertheless will not be wavering in our resolute determination to take shelter of the Lord and His devotees. And this will grant us a deep level of internal satisfaction and joy.
If our goal is to simply finish our rounds, then this is exactly what we will get: we will have finished the number of rounds, and not more than that!
The following analogy will demonstrate the futility of inattentive chanting: We can imagine ourselves sitting on the driver's seat of a vehicle, with our foot on the accelerator. The motor produces a revving sound, but the gears are in neutral and the clutch is disengaged. Thus we are not moving forward! We are not going anywhere!
The sound of the motor may be loud and impressive, but we are not moving ahead. We can spend many years and even lifetimes in such a way, and remain exactly on the same spot, not going anywhere. A hamster may exert himself running in the hamster wheel mounted inside his cage, but without actually going anywhere.
Inattentive chanting is exactly like this - it invites stagnation into our spiritual practice. If we ever want to go back to Godhead, we have to put an end to our bad chanting habits. This is how we show Krishna our sincerity, our intense greed to reach Him. We have to sacrifice our energy and make a concentrated endeavor to build our relationship with Him: by mindfully acknowledging His presence and appealing to Him in helplessness, begging Him to be allowed to serve.
To express their thankfulness, some participants compiled a little booklet with words of appreciation and gratitude. Some shared that it saved their spiritual life.....
After offering the Sunday feast lecture in Ljubljana I moved on to the Baltic Summer Festival on the 6th of August....
Your servant, Devaki dd