Initiated devotees take a vow to chant 16 rounds a day, called japa, which takes 1.5 to 2 hours.

I am no paragon of japa chanting. Unfortunately I have no attraction for the Holy Name so I am not qualified to speak about chanting. Still I have been having this persistent thought I wanted to share.

That thought is that my favorite bead is the last one of the 15th round. What it means is I have controlled my mind enough to get 15 done and only have one to go, and once I have done 15, the last one is a piece of cake. The light at the end of the tunnel is bright, the bulk of the endeavor is over, and it is like coasting to the finish line. The sense of accomplishment is already taking hold.

The first round or two are hard, trying to get the mind to chill out with the busy-ness. For me, that never really goes away but once I hit the pace, it recedes into the background and becomes more manageable. After that it is a matter of not letting distractions break into the flow, the Zen of chanting. I mean Zen in the sense of being “in the zone” and not any Mayavadi associations that may trigger in some readers.

By the time the last bead of the 15th round ends up between my fingers, the amount of time left to finish is almost insignificant and any distraction can be easily put off. It is even better than the last bead of the 16th round, IMHO, because by then the mind is chomping at the bit thinking about what it is going to do next and that very final bead can almost be lost in the shuffle.

The last bead of the 15th round the full attention is still there, but infused with satisfaction of the imminent finish. Ergo my favorite bead.