This section of the FAQ covers questions about chanting the holy name of the Lord and the maha-mantra.
Q: Isn't constant chanting a form of self-hypnosis?
A: No. Self-hypnosis means altering the state of your mind so that it is easily accessable and more open to the influence of suggestions. There are several techniques to achieve that goal. Chanting Vedic mantras is not one of them.
Vedic mantras are not meant for attaining a state of hypnosis, rather they are meant for freeing (trayate) the mind (manas) of illusion. Chanting mantras that consist of the names of God gives one heightened realization and great clarity of intelligence.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Q: Isn't there something more useful to do for society than chanting all day?
A: Devotees don't just chant all day. They are engaged in many activities throughout the day, depending on their own specific services.
Some are engaged at the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, publishing Srila Prabhupada's books in over 70 languages. This service involves translating, proofreading, editing, cover design, layout, typesetting, proofing, shooting films, etc. These books are distibuted by the millions on the streets and enable those who purchase them to enrich their lives spiritually. They offer people a chance to get genuine spiritual knowledge.
The Bhaktivedanta Institute is a scientific branch of ISKCON concerned with presenting the Vedic concept of the world we live in to both layman and the scientific community through World Conventions on the Synthesis of Science and Religion and the publication of scientific books and journals. The goal is to wake up the mass to the fact that established modern science has been misleading them for more than a century.
Some are engaged in full-fledged farm projects, others in restaurants or schooling. Preaching centers have a lot of action going on besides chanting as each of them is a spiritual oasis in the material world. They provide daily programs for guests, as well as cultural gatherings, seminars and a weekly Sunday festival. Devotees are also engaged in film making, theater, sculpturing, Indian dance and other aspects of art.
ISKCON Food For Life is the world's largest vegetarian/vegan food relief organization with 170 services in 65 countries. Its 1,500 volunteers distribute over 40,000 free hot vegetarian meals daily. To date over 70,000,000 free meals have been served. In addition FFL extends its emergency relief service to the provision of medicines and other necessaries.
Krishna consciousness is spiritual, unlimited. As such there is enough to do. In the Hare Krishna movement there is enough devotional service to keep you busy 24 hours a day and beyond.
Q: Do devotees pray and chant? Or do they just chant?
A: There are nine processes of bhakti-yoga that devotees do:
sravanam kirtanm visnoh
arcanam vandanam dasyam
iti pumsarpita visnau
"Prahlada Maharaja said: 'Hearing and chanting about the transcendental holy name, form, qualities, paraphernalia and pastimes of the Lord, remembering them, serving the lotus feet of the Lord, offering the Lord respectful worship with sixteen types of paraphernalia, offering prayers to the Lord, becoming His servant, considering the Lord one's best friend, and surrendering everything unto Him (in other words, serving Him with the body, mind and words) -- these nine processes are accepted as pure devotional service. One who has dedicated his life to the service of Krishna through these nine methods should be understood to be the most learned person, for he has acquired complete knowledge.'" (Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.5.23-24)
So, yes, we do both, since as you can see, both are listed in the nine.
Q: How come some chanters fall down if chanting only once brings yields all perfection?
A: Although the holy name of Krishna can purify you immediately of many lives of sinful activities, until you come to the platform of chanting offenselessly, you cannot uproot completely the desire seeds within the heart. Therefore simply chanting millions of times is not the ultimate solution, although it is certainly wonderful. One has to chant offenselessly and thus cleanse completely his heart. Then there is no question of falldown. There is a difference between merely freeing oneself from sinful reactions and cleansing the heart completely. One can easily clean the reactions, but cleaning the heart takes a longer time. But it still can be done if one tries and continues the process regularly.
As far as your worry that you will have more troubles than those who fell down from a high position, I disagree. Probably it will be easier for you since you do not think of yourself as very great. Those who think they are great have a hard time to surrender to Krishna. And when one has great responsibilities and the like, he has much more burden on his shoulders than you might have. Therefore, you can advance in Krishna consciousness without hindrance and so you should go on chanting and hearing and attain the final goal.
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