Chanting the holy names of God like the Hare Krishna maha-mantra involves doing the same activity repeatedly. Isn’t that boring?
No. Let’s understand why.
For most people, their daily life is boring. In fact, people often watch TV not because the TV programs are so interesting, but because their daily lives are so boring. Why does life seem boring? Because we are intrinsically spiritual beings and our most essential need is love. The experience of loving and being loved is the ultimate foundation of all happiness. An activity or a relationship becomes boring or burdensome to the extent that love is absent from it. Even if we somehow invest our love in it, often the lack of adequate reciprocation disappoints us. That’s why we continually try out new things: new video games, new gadgets, new clothes, new cars, new houses, new jobs, even new spouses. Though all these new concoctions disappoint us eventually, we get addicted to the intoxicating pleasure offered by their initial newness. Because of this addiction to newness, we presume that doing the same activity repeatedly, as in chanting, would be boring.
But this presumption overlooks something essential: love.
A mother offers her milk to her baby hundreds of times. Does she find it boring? Obviously not – at least not when the mother loves the baby. When the mother offers her love through her milk, the more the activity is repeated, the deeper becomes her love and the greater her fulfillment.
Similarly, when we chant the holy names of God, we will not find the chanting boring if we chant lovingly. When we offer our love to God, Krishna, by chanting His holy names, He reciprocates by flooding our hearts with His unlimited, oceanic love. So every instance of chanting takes us deeper into that delightful ocean of divine nectar, and thus the more we chant lovingly, the more we find chanting relishable.
The mother-baby analogy illustrates how a repetitive activity doesn’t have to be boring. But, like all analogies, it has limitations. By chanting we don’t nourish God; He nourishes our heart with His supreme love. Also, the intensity of the mother-baby relationship dwindles as the baby grows up and needs other food, and as the mother’s milk stops. The intensity of the soul-God relationship, on the other hand, becomes ever-increasingly intense as our devotion for God deepens.
In fact, when we develop a taste for the divine love that becomes accessible by chanting, we can find inner delight in all situations – including deadly boring ones. Then we realize that chanting leads not to boredom, but to freedom from all boredom.
Different religions claim their God to be the real God. Sometimes certain people claim to be incarnations of God. Some consider God personal, others impersonal. Who actually is God?
God has nowadays largely become an object of naïve sentiment and blind faith. But knowledge of God is a precise and profound science.
As science begins with a definition of the object under study, let’s begin with the definition of God. The Vedanta-sutra (1.1.2) gives a definition that agrees broadly with the conception of God in the major world religions: “God is the source of everything.” Just as there is one source of illumination for the whole world, called sol in Spanish, surya in Hindi, and sun in English, similarly there is one source of all existence, called Allah in the Islamic tradition, Jehovah in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and Krishna in the Vedic tradition.
On a superficial reading, the Vedic texts may seem polytheistic, thus making the Vedic gods appear to be like the pagan gods whose worship the Semitic religions forbid. But a deep and guided study of the Vedic scriptures reveals that, though they contain multifaceted rituals for multilevel forms of worship, they are conclusively monotheistic. That’s why the epithets to glorify Krishna in the Vedic tradition (e.g., Bhagavad-gita 10.32: “Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle”) are strikingly similar to the biblical eulogies of God (e.g., Revelations 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”)
In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna demonstrated His Godhood by displaying to Arjuna His universal form, wherein rests everything and everyone in existence: the planets, stars, and universes as well as all living beings – celestial, terrestrial, and subterrestrial. If those who claim to be God cannot similarly display that they are the source of everything, we can safely reject their claim.
If God is the source of everything, then He must be the source of both the personal beings and the impersonal things seen in this world. To be their source, He must Himself have both these aspects. The Vedic texts reconcile these two apparently contradictory aspects through the example of the sun. The sun has form as a celestial globe and is formless as its widespread effulgence. Similarly, God has a form as the Supreme Person, Krishna, and is formless as the all-pervading effulgence known as Brahman or brahma-jyoti. Just as the sun globe is the source of the sunlight, Krishna is the source of the Brahman, as is confirmed in the Gita (14.27): “And I am the basis of the impersonal Brahman . . . .