Chanting from the Soul: An Interview with Krishna Das

Sample from the Winter 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

By Ratna Stone

Profiled by Time magazine in October 2003, Krishna Das is regarded as America’s leading “chantmaster.” Each year Krishna Das gives a workshop in Yogaville and he graciously agreed to be interviewed by Ratna Stone. In part one of this interview, Krishna Das talks about his Guru, his path, and falling in love with who you truly are in Part 1 of this two-part interview.

Ratna Stone: Your best-selling video is called, The Yoga of Chant, and you explain how chanting is a way of achieving devotion to God through music. You even explained that the Deity will reveal Himself or Herself to you if you maintain sincerity and concentration through the chanting. Do you think that some people who have difficulty concentrating silently could use this technique of chanting ancient mantras aloud as a steppingstone to other forms of meditation? Could chanting even be considered a meditation itself?

Krishna Das: In India, they say that the Name and God are not different. So, if that’s true, then chanting the Name or remembering the Name in any way, either out loud or silently, is to be in God or with God. So you would have to say that this practice is meditation itself. The saints see God everywhere and they hear the Name, the silent Name, constantly because they are in that state where they hear the sound of the universe, which is the name of God-the original Name.

It says in some of the new translations of the Bible: “In the beginning was the Name, and the Name was with God. And the Name was towards God and the Name was with God.” So it’s an ancient process, a recognition of the Path. The chanting of the Name is a very subtle practice, so we don’t really understand what we’re doing. It’s just like, to some degree, when you’re a kid and you watch TV, you don’t understand all of the electronics that went into getting that picture in front of your face. And the way we practice spiritual techniques is very much the same. We don’t understand what we’re doing until the practices reveal to us what the story is. So, we may see our practice in an egocentric way: “I’m doing this and this will bring that result for me.” That is reasonable, because that’s where our heads are. It’s actually not like that. Actually, the practice is “doing” us! God is remembering us! We have no ability to remember God. We are like a comet shooting out into space, and God is grabbing us and pulling us back-pulling us back into orbit around the Name. So, meditation is a very deep and subtle practice; and the same words mean different things in different traditions…

Read the rest of this article in the Winter 2004 issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.

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