Feeling is a springboard for chanting, but chanting is also a gateway to feeling
Some people doubt the benefit of daily mantra meditation: “What is the use of repeating the names of God mechanically and unfeelingly? Better to wait till we get the feeling of devotion and then chant whole-heartedly.”
This doubt originates because they mistake the causal relationship between feeling and chanting to be one-way instead of two-way. That is, feeling can inspire chanting, but chanting can engender feeling too. Let’s take a closer look at these two scenarios:
Feeling as a springboard for chanting: This applies primarily for two categories of people. For advanced devotees, the feeling of devotion is a constant inner reality that expresses itself as constant chanting. For those who are devotionally inclined but are not practitioners, an intense devotional stimulus or an unsolvable problem may sometimes induce the feeling of devotion and impel them to chant.
Chanting as a gateway to feeling: This applies primarily for the spiritual practitioners who lie between the spiritually advanced and the spiritually inclined. Unlike the spiritually inclined who are satisfied with occasional and short-lived feelings of devotion, practitioners long for feelings that are sustained, substantial and transformational. They want to redirect their love from matter to Krishna in a real and tangible way. For bringing about this redirection, they apply the guideline of the Bhagavad-gita (12.09) that the practice of regularly remembering Krishna increases one’s attraction for him. This guideline implies that the feeling of being attracted to him is a result of remembering him, not a pre-condition for remembering him.
Of course, practitioners do experience devotional feelings periodically. But knowing that at the practitioner’s level feelings can be fickle and fallible, they don’t make feelings the fuel for their devotional journey, for they don’t want their journey to be sporadic and erratic. They replace feeling with commitment as their fuel, thereby ensuring that their journey towards Krishna is steady, smooth and swift.