I’ve just about given up on trying to concentrate attentively on chanting the maha mantra for any long period of time. Instead, I’m becoming interested in at least observing my inattention. The idea “know your enemy” seems like an important one – and if my “enemy” (inattentiveness) is running rampant on the battlefield, undefeatable, I might as well use the opportunity to carefully observe him, figure him out, and thus eventually come to know his weak spot.
Of course when I attempt to meditate upon the mantra in times of unusual events and conditions, my observations and results are atypical. I’m not really concerned with that, I am concerned my the typical nature of my inattentiveness in daily, regular chanting.
Most of the time I cannot concentrate on the mantra because I am too involved in concentrating on a debate I hold in my mind with someone else, real or imaginary. Why is this so interesting to me? Contemplating this question I came to understand that I want to be able to convince others of my point of view. Why? Eventually I realized because (a) that means they accept, and thus acknowledge and respect me, and (b) that gives me power, which allows me to get whatever I want. So it boils down to wanting power and facility to fulfill my personal desires.
Runner up among the causes of distraction: projects. Planning out how to complete some project – reorganizing a room, redecorating something, writing some article or book, etc etc etc. what’s this all about? Why is this so interesting to me? Contemplating this, I have to recognize that my plans are simply my power in motion. So it has the same root as the debate distraction: I want to accomplish something, and therefore cannot get my mind off it. In the debate issue, I want to accomplish something in the subtle realm; some idealogical or theoretical accomplishment I am working towards, practicing or rehearsing. In the “projects” issue, I want to accomplish something in the physical realm. All my distraction is about things I want to accomplish. Why do I want to accomplish things? To fulfills some personal ambition, desire, or need.
Hmmm. Sounds like a pattern.
The third-place winner among distractions is really a subgroup of the second: projects pertaining to my basic needs. These are my worries about how to pay bills, fix something important that broke, etc. etc.
All of these things are important, genuinely. That’s not a problem. The problem is when they are more important to me than Krishna.
What I must do to chant attentively is care. Care about Krishna. I do care about Krishna. But not enough. Not enough to overcome the other things – invariably self-centered to some extent. In short, there are many things I care about more than Krishna, and that is why I cannot overcome inattentiveness.
The battle with inattentive meditation is going to be won when I am not meditating. I have to decrease my self-centeredness by being responsible, helpful, humble and self sacrificing. And I have to increase my Krishna-centeredness by gaining better, deeper, realer, more intimate comprehension of who and what he is, and how I fit into that picture.
Please wish me luck.