My friend asked me yesterday whether I was a Hare-Krishna. She had just seen a documentary of a man who left his home in the West and went to India in search of spirituality. What he found there were many Gurus and a Hare-Krishna group. My friend asked me, “Is that normal? What does it mean? Who are these people? Why do they do what they do?”
In my effort to explain Hare-Krishna, I told her, “Look, when the Hare-Krishna’s hit the street chanting, that is a form of worship for them. Singing the name of God is worship. They also believe and this is true, that when others hear the name of God being sung out, it benefits them too whether they participate or not. I think that’s why they do it.”
I told my friend, “Not all the people involved in the ISKCON organisations give up everything, put on traditionally Indian attire and hit the streets chanting. Many of them are just like you and me; they have jobs, they have families and they lead life in the outside world. They may attend events held by the chanters and the priests who lead these groups and they may incorporate the learning from the tradition into their lives but giving it all up, shaving your head and chanting on the streets isn’t for everyone.”
“Another important thing to note is that it is so important to get together in a group and worship/sing/chant/pray together. Yes you have your own personal practice (in yoga your personal practice is called your Sadhana) and that is very important too, for your own growth. It is so important to have your own sadhana because the shit that comes up in your own meditation and in your life that are spiritual lessons in disguise, no one else can relate to these things. None of your spiritual friends will be able to relate. This is so unique to you. That’s why you need your own personal practice. However, it is very important to come together in a group to practice as well because it strengthens your practice. It’s like this: you are a singer, right? (My friend is a professional singer and musician.) You have your own personal practice of singing, your daily 10 min warmup. You also have your weekly rehearsals, group practice and gigs. Every time you have a gig, you have renewed energy to go home and practice on your own and the same with your weekly rehearsals. And every time you practice on your own, you see the benefit in the rehearsals and you enjoy the rehearsals more, you get more out of it because you’ve brought more of yourself to it.”
Summary and my message to you…
Find your personal practice with the thing that turns you on the most, the makes you happiest, gives you the most, feeds your soul. And also, find a way to do it in a group too. It’s a nurturing cycle and you can harness it for your maximum benefit.