Devotees from Scarborough organized a boat cruise through the lagoons of the Toronto Islands. It carried about 300 hundred people, young and old. Lunch was packed for all and it was scrumptious, but the special feature was the chanting on the main floor. Just to catch some air I decided to reach the open third floor. A man followed me and asked a question.
"I have been told that when you chant you should not think. You only hear the sound vibration of the maha mantra and that's it," he expressed hoping for a clarification.
I really appreciated the question It was honest and an innocent enquiry yet I looked him square in the eyes and told him frankly that it was ridiculous, that this instruction is a bit misleading.
"If I was to say the name "Obama" immediately an image of the U.S. president's face flashes in the mind. When we say the name "Krishna" some visualization mentally should be there unless we are totally distracted. Absorption in the Absolute begins with the use of the tongue. From there all the other senses follow. It would be a hard task to arrest the mind, to numb images. The mind is an instrument that is always taking in and storing data, like a computer. It depends on what you feed it. If I was to say to you that I was sailing on the water and spotted an island, then these images would be conjured up in the listener's mind as I described them."
In other words I rejected the notion that the mind should or even could be stilled. In the Gita Bhagavan (Krishna) states "always think of Me" so that especially holds true for those who utter His and not otherwise, "I explained to the man.
He seemed to approve.
By the way the sailing was great, so was the walk from the dock to the ashram.