by Sri Chinmayananda, an excerpt from Tune in the Mind.
For Chinmayananda publications visit www.chinmayapublications.org
You may wonder why a student of vedãnta listening to and reflecting upon discourses on the upanisads and the Gita should care to take up any method of sadhana other than pure meditation. It is natural for seekers in their blind enthusiasm to come to question the importance of japa for a vedäntik seeker. This doubt comes out of a confusion in the understanding of the japa yoga.
Japa is a training by which the ever-dancing rays of the mind are compelled to behave in some order and rhythm and thereby bring out, of their co-operative effort, a single melody of repeated mantra-chanting.
In this practising, the mind becomes extremely single-pointed. In fact, japa properly done can more effectively bring about a sustained single-pointedness than all the hasty methods of meditation. A mind seasoned with japa is like tinned food which gets ready for consumption after a few seconds’ warming up on the fire. A short period of meditation can take a japa prepared mind to unimaginable heights in an impossibly short time.
Japa is a training for the mind in fixing itself to a single line of thinking. We cannot pronounce a word without a thought-form rising up immediately in us; nor can we have a thought-form without its corresponding name. Try! Can you repeat the word ‘pen’ without its form? Can you? In this close connection between the name and the form lies the underlying principle in the technique of japa.
Again, love is not generated where sufficient thought is not bestowed. You love your near and dear relatives more than your uncle’s sister-in-law’s nephew, whom probably you had seen and even admired; yet, love is not there, for you have not spent sufficient thought over that child. Thus, japa in a prayer-room performed in all intensity, and training oneself to repeat mentally His names constantly during the wakeful hours, are the sure ways of developing devotion (bhakti). It is always the repetition of thinking that brings about the fastness in all attachments. The less one thinks of a thing, the less one gets attached to it. The opposite is also equally true: the more one thinks of a thing the more one gets attached to it.
The supreme reality is experienced through meditation alone. But the boat to reach the goal, viz, meditation, is rigged with the practice of devotion through japa.. In meditation one is wingless, If one has not acquired a decent share of concentration-power and a perfect knowledge of how to fix one’s mind, at will, at a single point, for some length of time. Meditation is keeping the mind hitched on to one line-of-thought, to the complete exclusion of all other dissimilar thought currents. To succeed in this, we must learn to stop at will all other “dissimilar thought currents”. This mental capacity is gained through japa when intelligently practised along with a regulation of the normal life lived.