Be willing to chant
One suggestion of an overall nature is that one should be willing to make changes in one’s life in order to give sadhana a chance to survive. For example, if a business firm discovers that it is in financial difficulty, then the members sit down and decide on appropriate action. This may require sacrifices and changes. Everything cannot stay the way it is. The willingness to sit down, discuss, and bring about changes is a perquisite. Otherwise, friends may offer you many suggestions for improving your chanting and hearing, but you will not budge an inch. As Srila Prabhupada has said, if one wants to keep everything the way it is, then he cannot help himself in devotional service.
What are some of the changes that may be required? Perhaps we are living with people who make it impossible to pursue devotional service. May be our means of making money is too hellish, sapping our vital energy so that we have no inclination left for spiritual practices. Or there may be unresolved grudges in our life. As Jesus Christ says, “If you are going to make an offering on the alter, but you remember that you have cheated someone, first go and make peace with that person, then come back and make your offering.”
Maybe we have to move into a temple community in order to chant. Or maybe we have to move out of the temple. What has to be done will vary with each person. But some adjustment in favor of sadhana has to be considered and actually carried out. Maybe it means we have to make less money. Maybe we have to move our place of residence. Or after considering, we may think that there is really no external change that is necessary: “It’s just a matter of my own will power.” But that in itself is a major change or adjustment. We have to agree, “All right, I’m going to do the needful.”
We may conclude that we will be able to give 2 ½ hours a day to japa, and ½ hour a day for reading Prabhupada’s books. If that is our decision, then the next step is to ensure that even this small amount of time for bhajana is kept sacred. We have to be in a decent state of mind to actually chant and hear. Sravanam kirtanam requires mental peace and alertness. If the hours which we spend away from sadhana are too passionate or demanding, they will leave us burned out. We will be too exhausted or contaminated to utilize the little time left for chanting and hearing. We cannot run at a greyhound’s pace twenty-two hours a day and then suddenly screech to a stop and switch into the mode of sattva-guna. If we have allowed ourselves to become like dogs working at ugrakarma; If we have allowed ourselves to become trapped in a life with high stress in order to maintain a standard of living; if we are always fighting with our wife and husband; if we are engaged in an extramarital sexual affair; if we are plotting and scheming to get ahead or cheat someone-this will ruin whatever little time we have scheduled for sadhana .
So the plans for change may have to go deep. And if we are part of a family, it will have to be done in cooperation with others, so that everyone’s material and spiritual needs are satisfied.
Chapter 3 – Obstacles in Chanting & Reading (Pg no. 47)
Obstacles on the Path of Devotional Service
-By H.H. Satsvarupa dasa Goswami