Can chanting help remove my bad habits?

Vishal Puri, Apr 4 2012
Hare Krishna,

Can you please reply to my query?

Can chanting help in getting rid of the negative habits like laziness, indecision, depression, negativity, anxiety and introversion?

What should I do to get rid of these habits?  Please guide me.

Hare Krishna,
Dandavats
Struggling to become a devotee

Mahabhagavat Das SDA, Apr 4 2012

Hare Krishna!

If you are asking this question, then you are already a devotee.  It is just a question of increasing the purity through a gradual process. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita that there are four types of pious people who surrender to Him:
catur-vidha bhajante mam
janah sukritino ‘rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi
jnani ca bharatarshabha
“O best among the Bharatas, four kinds of pious men begin to render devotional service unto Me — the distressed, the desirer of wealth, the inquisitive, and he who is searching for knowledge of the Absolute.” BG 7.16 (please read purport very carefully and see how it applies to your question)

The answer to your questions is that yes, chanting Hare Krishna to the best of one’s ability can very quickly get rid of acquired material anarthas like laziness, indecision, depression, negativity, anxiety, and introversion. If the next question is “how long will it take”, the answer is, depends on how big the mountain of anarthas is and how strong our determination to chant Hare Krishna is.

The best way is to serve and remain in the association of those who are chanting very seriously every day and following the regulative principles. Follow the regulative principles of freedom, and take only Krishna Prasadam. Go to your nearest bona-fide ISKCON temples (there are some which call themselves ISKCON temples but are apasampradaya – against the instructions of the disciplic succession – stay away from them, ask us if you are in doubt)

On 11th May 2007, Srila Gurudeva, His Divine Grace Sripad Sankarshan Das Adhikari wrote:
“I am very, very pleased with you for your sincerity. I know that you are presently living in a situation in which it is very, very difficult to practice Krishna consciousness. May Lord Krishna bestow His special mercy upon you to help you through your present difficulties.

The perfectional stage of pure love of God is the ninth step and the culmination of the Krishna consciousness pathway. It takes time to reach that stage. We have been in the cycle of birth and death for millions of lifetimes and are thus very, very covered by the contaminating influence of the three modes of material nature. Therefore we cannot expect to become 100% pure devotees immediately.

The nine steps of bhakti are described as follows in the Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu (1.4.15-16):
adau sraddha tatah sadhu-
sango ‘tha bhajana-kriya
tato ‘nartha-nivrittih syat
tato nishtha rucis tatah
athasaktis tato bhavas
tatah premabhyudancati
sadhakanam ayam premnah
pradurbhave bhavet kramah
“In the beginning one must have a preliminary desire for self-realization. This will bring one to the stage of trying to associate with persons who are spiritually elevated. In the next stage one becomes initiated by an elevated spiritual master, and under his instruction the neophyte devotee begins the process of devotional service. By execution of devotional service under the guidance of the spiritual master, one becomes free from all material attachment, attains steadiness in self-realization, and acquires a taste for hearing about the Absolute Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna. This taste leads one further forward to attachment for Krishna consciousness, which is matured in bhava, or the preliminary stage of transcendental love of God. Real love for God is called prema, the highest perfectional stage of life.”

Here are the above steps given in a list form:
1. Sraddha–faith, the preliminary desire for self realization
2. Sadhu-sanga–associating with devotees
3. Bhajana-kriya–initiation by the bona fide spiritual master and adopting the practices of bhakti yoga under his direction
4. Anarta-nivriti–freedom from material attachment
5. Nistha–steadiness in self-realization
6. Ruci–taste for hearing about Krishna
7. Asakti–attachment for Krishna consciousness
8. Bhava–preliminary state of love of God
9. Prema–pure love of God.

In the prema stage there is constant engagement in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. So, by the slow process of devotional service, under the guidance of the bona fide spiritual master, one can attain the highest stage, being freed from all material attachment, from the fearfulness of one’s individual spiritual personality, and from the frustrations that result in void philosophy. Then one can ultimately attain to the abode of the Supreme Lord.

You are wondering when you will attain prema. You should set your sight on attaining the third step as soon as possible, bhajana-kriya. Once you do that you will become very jolly and will make steady progress on the path to perfection.

You are also wondering why as a beginner on the pathway you cannot love God immediately. But you must be feeling some degree of love of God. Otherwise why are you spending so much time and energy practicing Krishna consciousness? You are certainly not getting paid to do so. Therefore you must be acting out of love. Higher stages of almost pure and completely pure love await you, but even at the present you must have some sense of loving Krishna.

For example, when you see a painting of Krishna, don’t you find Him to be beautiful? This is love. Now you simply have to strengthen your feelings of love more and more to the perfectional stage by going through the nine steps under the guidance of the spiritual master and the Vaisnavas.”

Sincerely,
Mahabhagavat Das

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