Devotees often ask us, `My mind does not find interest in japa and meditation. What shall I do?' This question rises in the minds of many. In reply we say, `Mind is a machine that works just in the manner you run it. We have to consider—how much time in twenty-four hours we try to do japa and meditation and how much time we spend in other works. It is only natural that at the time of japa-meditation only those matters will surface in the mind which the mind always thinks about. That is why when one sits for japa-meditation, the thought of God does not come to the mind and it does not get concentrated on Him.'
But what is the remedy? A simple remedy is to try to keep the mind engaged in the thought of God for some more time. Sri Ramakrishna has said, `Do you know how the mind is? It is like a cloth just returned from the washerman. It takes the colour you dip it in.' If we keep the mind in worldly thoughts for much time, those very thoughts will continue to rise at the time of japa-meditation. So the solution is to practise remembrance of God as much as possible. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that a part of the mind should always be left with Him. Efforts should be made so that continuous thought of God may flow in the mind. We may think, `How then worldly ctivities may be managed?' Sri Ramakrishna has said, `If you keep fourteen annas of your mind with God and employ two annas to perform worldly works, it will be more than sufficient.' But we do just the opposite. We immerse fourteen or fifteen annas of our minds in the world and want to think of God with just one or two annas. No precious thing can be had cheap. Is it possible to have the most precious thing in the world so easily? So if we are to remember God, a substantial part of our time has to be kept linked with Him even if we may not do so all the time. Our worldly activities are not hampered thereby, rather they are performed still better. If the mind is directed to Him, selfishness will find no place in it. And a work done without selfishness is done perfectly. For this, we need a zealous mind that is eager to remember God and will try to do so; and needless to say, worldly activities will go on in the midst of such efforts. This requires practice. You sit for japa, try for some time and then get up because you find no taste in it. But that will not do.
But how to develop that taste? If you want to relish a thing for which you have no taste, you have to try to direct your mind to that very thing. Repeated efforts ultimately develop relish. Once somebody asked Sri Ramakrishna, `Is there no way for worldly people?' Now what is meant by `worldly people?' It means not only those who are married householders but anybody who is engrossed in worldly activities. Sri Ramakrishna replied, `Why won't there be any way? Of course there is.' And he prescribed the way also: (1) to chant the name of God, (2) to keep holy company and, (3) to occasionally think of God in solitude.
To chant the name of God means japa, meditation, worship, visit to places of God, and service to God. Holy company means
By Swami Bhuteshananda