Saturday, 22 September 2007

A beautiful September kirtan

We assembled again for our first kirtan after the summer, as the impending autumnal equinox approached. It was a glorious sunny day, so much so that we had to close the curtains to avoid squinting throughout our session.

Gopal spoke about beauty in meditation and how this beauty is an ever-present and eternal reality which we can tap into.

Without further ado, here are the kirtans and the talks:

An invocation by Meru, and her chanting of the first mantra:

govinda jaya jaya gopala jaya jaya
radha-ramana-hari govinda jaya jaya
govinda govinda govinda govinda
gopala gopala gopala gopala

Talk 1.

Gopal chanting:

hari haraye namah krishna yadavaya namah
yadavaya madhavaaya kesavaya namah

gopala govinda rama shri-madhusudana
giridhari gopinatha madana-mohana

Talk 2.

Rasasthali chanting:

hare krishna hare krishna
krishna krishna hare hare
hare rama hare rama
rama rama hare hare

Talk 3.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

In the heart is life, and you must live there

We're starting our kirtans again on Sunday (16 September) after a little summer's break. I hope you'll be able to join us!

Chanting is done in a variety of ways and spiritual traditions. I want to share with you an insight from an Orthodox monk and scholar, Theophan the Recluse (1815-94) about prayer, which I find inspirational:

"... when you descend into the heart there will be no strain at all. The head will become empty and there will be an end of thoughts. They are always in the head, chasing one another, and it is not possible to control them. But if you enter the heart, and are able to remain in it, then every time thoughts begin to confuse you, you have only to descend into the heart and the thoughts will flee. It will be a comforting and safe haven. Do not be lazy about descending. In the heart is life, and you must live there. Do not think that this is something to be attempted only by the perfect. No. It is for everyone who has begun to seek the Lord." The art of Prayer: an Orthodox Anthology, (1966) p.184.

I particularly like the sentence: "In the heart is life, and you must live there." Considering the amounts of thoughts we have everyday, it's not surprising that we get caught up, or identify ourselves, with them. But by descending to the heart, as Theophan urges the reader of his letter, we come closer to our true self, to life. We can do this by prayer, or meditation, or even by connecting to our breath. But loud chanting is even easier, particularly in kirtans where we chant melodiously in a group, and with music. It just pulls us out, and the mind with us, to a deep place of inner stillness. And this is where we 'must live', to find satisfaction, for there 'is life'.

If you come to our kirtan, you can bring this thought with you, and give yourself to the chanting while entering your heart. If you feel your heart region, and chant, it'll be sublime.