Bad Thoughts

When I am chanting, why do a lot of bad thoughts come to my mind?
Bikash Kilhar
Via the Internet

Reply: That is natural. Continue chanting, and eventually the bad thoughts will go away.

It is something like this: Before cleaning your house, everything looks in order. When you start cleaning, you move things around. In the middle of the cleaning, you will see that the house is dirtier than it was before cleaning. But if you continue cleaning, gradually you will clean everything and put everything back in place.

Similarly when the mind is not cleansed (before chanting), it looks like everything is normal. When you start cleaning the mind by chanting, however, the dirty things in your mind come to the surface. But if you continue with sincere chanting and take shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet, the dirty thoughts that come to the surface of the mind will be completely wiped off. This is how the chanting process works.

So do not quit. Just continue, and gradually your mind will become cleaner and cleaner and cleaner – to the point that you will have tears of love for Krishna when you chant.

A Place for Passion

I am a student. How much should I engage in Krishna so that I can manage both my studies and Krishna consciousness? In other words, can we have passion in life or not?
Via the Internet

Reply: Yes, we can have passion in life. Arjuna had passion to fight the war. Passion is necessary to create things and implement new ideas. But we should not have a selfish passion. A passion just for yourself keeps you bound up by karma.

Dovetail or engage your passion in Krishna’s service. Whatever studies you are currently engaged in, do your best, and then use the knowledge, position, and money you acquire to promote Krishna and devotional service to Him.

Profession and Devotion

Can I be a good devotee while pursuing my professional dreams?
Shubh Sharma
Via the Internet

Reply: You can most definitely become Krishna conscious and pursue your profession. If you have a spiritual master, you can ask your spiritual master what you should do. But generally, one can work in the material world but still be in the highest consciousness by having a regular sincere sadhana, or spiritual practice, every day.

Chanting and hearing, especially early in the day before work, will help you remember your spiritual position as the humble servant of the Lord. These practices will help you focus during the day on your intentions to please the Lord with your service. That will keep you happy and out of the illusion of thinking that you are the enjoyer, controller, and proprietor of everything. Many of the great teachers in our line were professionals, but at every moment they worshiped and remembered the Lord.

Stressed and Angry

I am in stress, and I would like some suggestions on how to control my anger.
Nikhil Walia
Via the Internet

Reply: Kali-yuga, the age we are living in, is the age of anxiety and quarrel, so you are not alone in facing these problems. Our hearts get polluted with lust, anger, and greed, which are our great enemies. The scriptures recommend that we chant the Lord’s holy names to help us remember our real identity as His servant. We are not the body and mind, which are sources of miseries.

Please take up the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra. Chanting is very potent and will give quick results. If you chant daily – especially, if possible, in the company of advanced devotees – you will feel the cleansing effect, and your mind will come under control.

The mind needs engagement in spiritual topics, and that engagement can be had by reading Krishna’s instructions in the Bhagavad-gita, hearing His pastimes, chanting His glories, and serving Him every day. You can visit our temples or join in the temple services by taking advantage of temple webcams.

Our original consciousness is pure and blissful; it is just covered with dirt from our being here in this material world. So enter the spiritual world by engaging in Krishna’s service.

Changing Kali-yuga Consciousness

I have two questions: Can you explain the word “consciousness” as used in Bhagavad-gita As It Is? And can the Gita change Kali-yuga?
Shivani Patel
Via the Internet

Reply: “Consciousness” means awareness, and it is a symptom of the soul within each living being. Once the soul is gone – when a person dies – then there is no awareness. Krishna consciousness is the original consciousness of the soul. It means to understanding that we are by nature loving servants of the Lord, Sri Krishna. Material consciousness, or thinking that we are the body, is a polluted state that is due to our contact with the material energy.

The Gita is personal instruction for us to elevate and purify our consciousness to get back to awareness of Krishna. If we can do that, then we will be free from all illusion and suffering.

On the bigger scale, if everyone, or at least a percentage of people, could regain their Krishna consciousness, then Kali-yuga could be changed. Srila Prabhupada once said that if even five percent of the people became Krishna conscious, then the planet would become Vaikuntha, or the spiritual world, where there is no anxiety.

This can happen only by the chanting of the holy names of the Lord, which can purify anyone. Therefore Caitanya Mahaprabhu inaugurated the sankirtana movement, which centers on congregational chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. All over the world, people taste real spiritual life by engaging in sankirtana. And the natural result is that they give up the bad habits that cause so many problems in Kali-yuga.

Effective Chanting

Could you please tell me, can I chant while traveling in the bus? What are the effective ways to chant Hare Krishna to increase love for Krishna?
Via the Internet

Reply: There are no restrictions for chanting; you can chant anywhere, anytime. So, yes, you can chant in the bus. We should not chant on beads while we’re driving, as that can be dangerous. But singing and chanting even while driving is fine.

If you want to count your chanting on beads as part of your daily quota for japa, then you have to be in an attentive mood, without distractions, just concentrating on the holy name. ISKCON has japa retreats every year in Vrindavan, India, and elsewhere, and there are books and tapes that can help you get the best out of your japa. These can help you develop good habits for chanting attentively and effectively.

The most important practice is to hear the names in the mantra and take them into your heart. Love for Krishna is already within you; it just has to be awakened by chanting His names. If you remember that the Hare Krishna mantra is a prayer begging Krishna to accept you, then you can cry out to the Lord with that mood in your heart.