Just Keep Going?

Most of the time, if you are struggling to practice bhakti-yoga you will hear this advice: “Don’t give up, just keep going.”

There is some value in this, but also a flaw.

If a monkey is struggling to pull a banana out of a jar, we can praise the virtue of his tenacity, and that tenacity might even evoke the compassion of an onlooker — but tenacity itself doesn’t get the banana out of the jar.

In any endeavor, including bhakti-sādhana, brute-force is not as wise as efficiency.

We can try to sweat it out and keep trying to chant more (and more) “rounds” of mantras. But it would become easy to chant hundreds of rounds if we had strong attraction to Krishna. So where should the effort primarily go, to the number of rounds or to the quality of attraction to Krishna?

The distinction is not always so clear, because one of the ways to develop more attraction to Krishna is to chant his name more often. But it is really a question of focus. The focus should not be on upholding an externally measurable huge quota of sādhana. The focus should be on deepening our actual feelings of affection for Śrī Krishna.

This is why, next to chanting Krishna’s name, the most important of all sādhanas is to hear the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam from those who can relish its beauty. Exposing ourselves to the beauty of Krishna revealed by the realized speakers of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam will cause us to fall in love, really, with Krishna. Then, with relatively little effort, our chanting will become attentive, emotive, and copious!

So chant an amount that is a realistic challenge for your current level of realizing the beauty of Krishna, and simultaneously hear the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam every day from people who are clearly, deeply in love with Krishna and cannot stop discussing him.