How Long Should We Repeat Nama?
How long should we repeat nama? We should do this as long as our breath continues or we are conscious of ourselves. Just as we continue to breathe till the moment of death, so, too, we should repeat the nama till the moment of death. To put it more precisely, just as the body ceases to live when breathing stops, so, too, we must feel as if we are dead if nama stops. We must take nama literally until life becomes extinct, or until the 'self' or the 'individual I' ceases to exist. The last stage is when the 'individual I' feeling becomes dead, and what remains is only nama. One can, indeed, never do 'enough' or 'too much' of it. It is commonly believed that there is nothing further to be done when one attains beatitude or 'ultimate liberation'; however, if any duty remains even thereafter it is only nama- smarana.
The common man so completely identifies himself with the body that normally he is not even conscious that he has it. Conversely, when the sadhaka engaged in nama-smarana becomes unaware that he is doing it, we can conclude that he has attained real' solitude', or oneness with the cosmic soul.
A man suffering from insomnia takes enough of the prescribed sedative to induce sleep; similarly we must take nama until we achieve enduring inward contentment. Nama being free from all upadhi, we will not be able to realise its true bliss unless we become likewise.
Should we keep a record of our japa, that is to say, should we note the number of times we have repeated nama? Yes, this is necessary if we have resolved to do it upto a specific minimum number every day, or to do a certain total number. To accustom oneself to a regular practice of japa, as also to ensure that not a day passes without a certain minimum japa, it is advisable to keep a daily note. While doing this, however, one shouldn’t feel that, 'now that I have completed the number proposed for the day, I have nothing to do with the nama until tomorrow.' After the daily quota is done, during the rest of the time also we should repeat nama as far as possible, for akhanda (i.e. unbroken) japa should be the ultimate goal.
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