There is something ironic about the phrase 'japa Talk'. japa itself means no talking, only to chant the thirty- two syllables over and over again. However, I think there is something we can properly call Japa Talk. Japa Talk means glorifying the holy name, describing its qualities or reading verses about the holy name... the kind of talking or writing which can help us in chanting.
When devotees ask me if I'd like to go on a japa walk with them, I think, ''You say japa walk, but you mean japa talk." Their proposal is that we will walk together, preferably in a scenic, peaceful place, and both chant on our beads. What usually happens, though, is that as soon as we enter the wooded path or start our circumambulation of the temple building-we start to talk.
Is that wrong? Does it ruin the japa walk? I don't want to say that talking is bad, as long as it is not prajalpa. Friends help each other is Krishna consciousness, share their realizations, and inspire each other with Krishna-katha when they speak confidentially. It's good to break our isolated silences.
But what about japa? The walk-talk should not be a substitute for thoughtful, concentrated utterances of the Hare Krishna mantra : Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. And especially if we have not completed our minimum quota of sixteen rounds, we should be careful that even constructive talk doesn't keep us from our most important duty. "Of all the regulative principles, the spiritual master's order to chant at least sixteen rounds is most essential" A japa walk should be disciplined-some time for uninterrupted japa (or why call it a japa walk?) and some time to talk.
This book is a collection of japa walks and talks between myself and my friends. I took these japa walks in County Wicklow, Ireland. I was alone, but I was always thinking of my devotee friends. I walked past some of their houses and occasionally saw them and waved to them, but I wanted the time alone so that I could relish the freedom of concentrated, uninterrupted japa. I was trying to focus on fulfilling Srila Prabhupada's instruction to "just hear."
At the same time, I wanted to speak, so I chanted exclusively for an hour, then returned to Uddhava's Cottage and gave vent to my urge to Speak by writing down the thoughts and feelings that built up in me during the purifying japa session in which I struggled to surrender my mind, tongue, and ears in Krishna's service. I also answered questions the devotees asked about chanting.
I hope the effect of reading these little outpourings will be like going together for a japa walk. If you would like to come, please read on. I'd like to make a condition, however, although I know I can't actually demand it : I chanted most of my rounds before I started talking. Maybe you would like to chant some of your rounds before reading.
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