How do solitude, silence and darkness bring success in Nama japa?
- The Japa Space
Two bangles make noise, one makes none. One chanter alone is quiet, affording a chance for concentration. But two chanters end in chatter! And that matters, because concentration stops and distraction and inattention set in. For just this reason, our acharyas chanted in caves, alone, away from all. In solitude, they had the most amazing experiences while chanting Krishna’s Holy Names.
Sound instantly attracts our minds, even when we are sleeping. If we could become fully absorbed in chanting japa, then we could chant anywhere without distraction. However, the Goswamis set the example of chanting japa in the total silence of caves. Caves are so silent that the sound of your heart may sound like thunder. It is said that in silence, God speaks. Quiet space is essential to japa success.
Besides providing silence and solitude, caves are completely dark. Why did our revered Goswamis and acharyas chant japa in the pitch black? Not only our Gaudiyas, but in the pursuit of enlightenment, all spiritual traditions have utilized darkness in the form of tunnels, catacombs or caves.
Although darkness has the negative quality of ignorance or tamo guna, it also has beneficial qualities. Darkness frees our mind from distractions, so we can focus on a chosen object i.e. Krishna’s lotus feet. Darkness blocks the mind and keeps it from running away with the senses.
The Vedas say, tamasi mam jyotir gama, which means, according to some yoga schools, “come to the light of pure consciousness through the agency of meditating in the dark”. And the Tao says, “When you enter absolute darkness, it soon turns into light.”
Scientists have proven that darkness activates the deepest centers within the brain i.e. thalamus, hypothalamus, pineal and pituitary. Darkness keeps the adrenal hormones at their lowest levels, which in turn creates an inner peace. In complete darkness, the visual and auditory abilities become even more sensitive.
Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, a regulatory hormone known as “the sleep molecule”, which shuts down the body and mind so we can sleep. From 3 to 6 am, the best time for japa, the body produces more melatonin. So at this time, if one is awake and chanting japa in darkness [like Goswamis in their caves], melatonin will gradually accumulate in the brain, and enable one to experience dreams or visions [of Radha and Krishna] resembling one’s experience of dreams while sleeping.
In darkness, our internal perception naturally becomes more subtle, refined and sensitive. Emotional and feeling states are enhanced. Experienced dark room meditators claim that the increased melatonin levels facilitate the emergence of spiritual consciousness. All of these factors working together will surely give one the rich devotional experience he longs for while chanting “his daily rounds”.
In summary, experience has shown us that the peace and solitude of darkness combined with increased levels of the “spirit molecule” melatonin will greatly increase one’s absorption in japa and produce amazing experiences of Sri Krishna in His Holy Names.
Besides observing a regulated schedule and chanting in darkness, one can also increase his melatonin levels by eating the following melatonin rich foods: oats, corn, brown rice, ginger, ripe tomatoes, bananas, parsley, algae, dates, cottage cheese, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, tofu, watermelon and apple seeds, almonds, peanuts, vitamin B-3, sunflower seeds, vitamin B-6, tryptophan [in peanuts & sesame seeds], lentils and avocado. In part three, we will describe how to create a japa cave.
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!