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Where's the Nectar?
A disappointed practitioner might complain, "Your explanation is philosophically correct, but you haven't dealt with the nitty-gritty problem. How can we chant if we don't have a taste?" Many of us have heard pat philosophical explanations as to what is wrong with our chanting, but it does not change our hearts or move us into reform. We admit to our fallen state. It does not make us happy to put aside our chanting beads, to read Time rather than Srimad-Bhagavatam. We wish that we could chant better, and we know that it is a main obstacle in our life. But we do not know how to overcome it.
If we have lost a taste for chanting and hearing, it is unreasonable that we demand an immediate return of the taste before we try to improve ourselves. We have to go through a process in order to regain health. We cannot expect the ripened fruft df blissful chanting to suddenly drop from the sky, and we should not wait until material life gets so bad that we turn in hopeful desperation to the shelter of chanting and hearing. With whatever little abilities we have now, let us revive determination to follow the vows for chanting and hearing.
I am speaking of the old virtues, faith and determination. Perhaps these virtues have worn thin for you because someone misled you in the name of faith and determination. Or maybe you are tired of trying without attaining a higher taste. If we chant and hear only because of duty, it will become routine and mechanical. And so we demand, 'Where is the nectar?" But for one who has not yet qualified for tasting bhakti-rasa, the duty of sadhana-bhakti should never be derided. Yes, in Goloka Vrn-davana, there is no longer any duty. There everything is spontaneous; walking is dancing, speech is song, and the surabhi cows give endless milk. By contrast, the austerities of the sddhaka (the practicer of devotional service) may strike us as demeaning. But experts in devotional service, such as Rupa Gosvami and Srila Prabhupada, encourage us, saying that the path to bhakti-rasa goes through the progressive stages of sddhana-bhakti.
A sincere sacihana-bhakta will learn to worship the duties given to him by the spiritual master, and he will find nectar in carrying out the instructions for chanting and hearing. "I know I am doing the best thing for my spiritual progress and happiness. Vet me be patient." Although we may not experience the eight kinds of transcendental ecstasies, if we think about it, we will admit that we have experienced deep and abiding pleasures in chanting and hearing. These pleasures and this auspi-ciousness are as close to us as the touch of our japa beads, and the reading of the book on the shelf.