There are four simple practices in Krishna consciousness.
Reading (Shravanan) Reading provides the intellectual satisfaction that is essential to developing faith in any spiritual practise. Without a comprehensive body of philosophical knowledge, any religious tradition can easily become a system of unfounded beliefs and rituals. Vedic literature offers logical answers to profound questions, and when carefully studied, books like Bhagavad-Gita will allow the inquisitive reader an opportunity to explore many new ideas and concepts. The books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are translations and commentaries upon India’s timeless spiritual classics, written over a period of twenty years. His writings comprise a complete course of study in bhakti-yoga, and are the basis of the spiritual lives of Hare Krishna members around the world. Studies usually begin with Bhagavad-Gita, Isopanishad, Srimad Bhagavatam and The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya.
Devotees study at least a few minutes daily, reserving a quiet period when they can read without disturbance. Chanting (Kirtanam) Recitation of the Hare Krishna mantra is the essential practise of Krishna consciousness. Devotees may spend from 10 minutes to 2 hours per day chanting japa. Once around the circle of 108 beads is called a “round” and devotees will chant anywhere between one and sixteen “rounds” per day as their time and inclination permits. Chanting is done either sitting or walking, usually in the morning. At first the language of the mantra may feel strange but as the profound nature of the sound vibration is experienced any feelings of awkwardness disappear. Anyone who chants with sincerity, pronouncing the words distinctly and listening attentively, will become peaceful and experience a sense of happiness. One who continues the process becomes advanced in the techniques of mantra meditation and enjoys an awakening of the soul’s natural, original qualities of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. Friendship (Sat-sangam) Our friendships have tremendous influence upon the way we think and act. We may enthusiastically take to a more spiritual way of life, but if our friendships with others are not similarly transformed, our personal development may become checked.
Associating with others who are spiritually inclined is therefore one of the most important and rewarding aspects of the Hare Krishna way of life. New members of ISKCON usually start off by linking up with others in the same town or county. Regular meetings now take place in many parts of the world, even where there is no proper temple, in hired rooms or devotee’s homes. People are often surprised when they come to these meetings to find themselves developing very gratifying friendships. Apart from local meetings, members cultivate friendships with others through correspondence, or by hosting visits, from travelling teachers. large events like the yearly Hare Krishna Festivals (Janmastami) are social and spiritual gatherings where hundreds of members meet up both to celebrate and enjoy each others company.
The network of Krishna centres, meetings, shops and temples, is steadily growing. As it does, many more people are discovering the personal benefits of being part of a spiritual community. Remembering (Smaranam) The aim of Krishna consciousness is to cultivate a constant flow of awakened states of consciousness wherein we remember our spiritual identity and our relationship with Krishna. Vaishnavas therefore begin the day with a combination of practices, which help to focus the mind spiritually. Rising early, bathing, japa meditation and study, all purify the mind from its sleepiness and create a mental state suitable for an entire day of spiritual progress. The Vedic literature teaches that our daily actions should lead us to develop valuable personal qualities such as peacefulness, tolerance, honesty and compassion. To this end, members also adopt regulative principles like vegetarianism as part of their personal lifestyle. In this way, even our most basic daily function of eating, can be an integral part of our spiritual path.
Do you meditate?
Members of the Hare Krishna movement practise mantra meditation. In Sanskrit, manah means “mind” and tra means “freeing”. So a mantra is a combination of words that is meant to relieve the mind of anxieties arising from wordly entanglement. Vedic literature compares the mind to a mirror, and our present state of spiritual forgetfulness to a mirror which has accumulated dust. Mantra meditation clears the dust from the mirror of the mind so that we can see our original self. When our spiritual nature is inwardly perceived, then the anxieties caused by illusion cease, and we experience spiritual happiness.