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Thread: Counter beads?

  1. #1
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    Counter beads?

    I recently ordered a japa set that came with a tulsi wood mala, a bead bag and a little string of 20 beads that it says are called "counter beads", but the little booklet that came with it doesn't say what they're for. What are they for?
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

  2. #2
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    Re: Counter beads?

    Never mind, I found out what they're for from another book. (They're to keep track of how many rounds on the mala I've done).
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Quote Originally Posted by govind_das View Post
    Never mind, I found out what they're for from another book. (They're to keep track of how many rounds on the mala I've done).
    Vannakkam: Indeed, that can be very tricky. If you're doing it right, it's easy to lose tack of a sense of time and number. One method I've seen used for this, and other counting things is to have a pre-set number counted out as coins, and then shift one coin with each round. I've seen people doing 108 pradakshinas, or 108 prostrations use this method.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Namaste,

    Please excuse my rudeness, but...

    When we sit in meditation and do japa of a mantra, our minds are supposed to be fully occupied with thinking about the Lord. We meditate on His name for the duration of our meditation. What difference does it make as to how many rounds we do? And does the counting not distract us from our real focus? I have seen some ISKCON devotees who have done their japa regularly for 20-25 years and are frustrated because their spirituality index has not gone up. When we are not in the proper mood of devotion and every bit of our being is not involved in meditating on His name, do we really accomplish anything? Does a prescribed number of rounds elevate our consciousness level, when the focus is on numbers and getting the job done? As I said, excuse my rudeness but this set number business and counting instead of meditating has always bothered me a whole lot.

    Phew, I feel so much lighter.

    Pranam.

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Believer View Post
    Namaste,

    Please excuse my rudeness, but...

    When we sit in meditation and do japa of a mantra, our minds are supposed to be fully occupied with thinking about the Lord. We meditate on His name for the duration of our meditation. What difference does it make as to how many rounds we do? And does the counting not distract us from our real focus? I have seen some ISKCON devotees who have done their japa regularly for 20-25 years and are frustrated because their spirituality index has not gone up. When we are not in the proper mood of devotion and every bit of our being is not involved in meditating on His name, do we really accomplish anything? Does a prescribed number of rounds elevate our consciousness level, when the focus is on numbers and getting the job done? As I said, excuse my rudeness but this set number business and counting instead of meditating has always bothered me a whole lot.

    Phew, I feel so much lighter.

    Pranam.

    I don't really see the beads as a distraction, as I don't count consciously, I just move my fingers along the beads as I do the japa so my mind is not distracted. When I reach the last bead, and have done one round, then I put them away, but I usually continue with the mantra after I've put them away.
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Quote Originally Posted by Believer View Post
    Namaste,

    Please excuse my rudeness, but...

    When we sit in meditation and do japa of a mantra, our minds are supposed to be fully occupied with thinking about the Lord. We meditate on His name for the duration of our meditation. What difference does it make as to how many rounds we do? And does the counting not distract us from our real focus? I have seen some ISKCON devotees who have done their japa regularly for 20-25 years and are frustrated because their spirituality index has not gone up. When we are not in the proper mood of devotion and every bit of our being is not involved in meditating on His name, do we really accomplish anything? Does a prescribed number of rounds elevate our consciousness level, when the focus is on numbers and getting the job done? As I said, excuse my rudeness but this set number business and counting instead of meditating has always bothered me a whole lot.

    Phew, I feel so much lighter.

    Pranam.

    Vannakkam: Count or not count, either way, it's better than not doing it at all. I'll leave it at personal preference.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Namaste,

    Quote Originally Posted by govind_das View Post
    I don't really see the beads as a distraction, ....
    Quote Originally Posted by Eastern Mind View Post
    Vannakkam: Count or not count, either way, it's better than not doing it at all.
    The conversation seems to have taken a wrong turn. First of all, I am not challenging other people's desire/mode to do japa, just wondering out aloud about some aspects of it.

    Beads do help in decreasing distractions and I have no issues with that. What I feel uncomfortable with is the need to break the concentration to advance the count every time we go around the mala once, and to be rigid about the number of rounds the japa has to be done, instead of sitting down and doing the japa for a duration of time, if there has to be a measure attached to it.

    'it's better than not doing it at all', is comparing doing japa in any shape/form to a lower level of not doing it all. I was comparing the 'japa by counting' process to a higher level of being in complete meditation. Surely I am not discouraging anyone to do what they are doing, just pointing out, may be to upgrade the process for higher spiritual returns.

    Use of beads - good for avoiding distractions, I am all for the mala and anything else that helps to deepen the concentration; but keeping a running total of rounds sure sounds like the subconscious is roaming somewhere else.

    Using any process to do japa is fine with me and is definitely better than not doing it all, but doing it in full meditation to raise the spiritual level brings about higher returns with the time and effort invested. Why compare things to the lowest level of 'not doing anything at all'? After all we are in the HD forum, not in a marketing dept.

    Pranam.
    Last edited by Believer; 25 October 2013 at 05:16 PM.

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    Re: Counter beads?

    I agree that a prescribed quota for a certain number of rounds is not a good idea, because after a while it becomes mechanical, as you're primarily concerned with meeting the quota. I especially think ISKCON's requirement of 16 rounds is a bit much.
    Jeff (a.k.a. Govinda Das)

    Hindu Quaker.
    Though I am eternal, immutable, and the Lord of all beings, yet I manifest Myself by controlling material Nature, using My own divine potential energy, the Divine Light
    (Bhagavad Gita 4:6

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Vannakkam: Yes, clearly the mind should be focused on the mantra. Otherwise it's not really japa. Might as well tape yourself, and listen to it, or something like that. Having tried for a few years, doing japa properly is difficult. (At least for me ... others may have a far easier time, and can sustain it for hours without distraction.) It takes a ton of concentration, and I think it's a bit unrealistic as well to expect that level of concentration for extended periods of time or 'rounds'. But who am I to say what works for someone, or not? I don't have the psychic ability to enter another person's mind and see if they are concentrating or not. Even if I did, I wouldn't. Sounds a bit intrusive.

    There are many different mantras and varieties of use, initiations etc. So it's a complicated topic. I'm not here to argue.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Counter beads?

    Namaste

    I do chanting of name or mantra typically in the morning or twilight, or just after visiting a temple or puja. At home I use Rudraksha though I am considering red coral as well. But often I am outside at "nature" sites, often I go to a small man-made lake with a nice grass edging and paved walkway. But often I use the "finger method" there since I treat my rudraksha as also a murti and keep it in a beautiful bag and on an alter. I am not making any recommendations, just that is what I do.

    But I do not follow a system of doing a lot of "rounds", honestly not because I am against that, I admire such devotees, it is just that I am a "rascal Saiva", I only do exactly 108 typically.

    A good startng mantra for bhaktas of Muruga is Aum Saravanabhava.

    I tell the truth, I do chanting of different known mantras and Names, such as to Hanuman, to Devi, and so on.

    What is called japa is not always the same as chanting mantra or Name(s), often japa means a specific seed mantra given in an initiation and then used daily. Chanting can also be a daily routine but not the same as an initiated japa. Both are very powerful.

    Neither are praying. For me chanting is causing mind temperance and force and concentration and are not prayers.

    I also may do 1008 Names, what is my inspiration at the time. I am going back to my old habit of Surya praise of my youth, in the morning before going to work or at sunset I do a short Surya praise, which is probably more a "Hail Surya" or greeting or goodbye than chanting. Probably this is not considered chanting, and no mala is used.

    I also chant mantras of other Devas or Devi when visiting Their temples, and of course I love bhajans during such visits which is not japa, not chanting, but you are saying Names and Om in such bhajans.

    In fact I do pray for worldly boons and food, but I never use japa for that.

    I do not criticize those who do, for example, 16 rounds. In fact I admire and am fascinated by it. But I do not do "rounds" as a practice on a mala, though I may end up doing something like that at a "gathering" of devotees or celebration etc., but not a daily practice but this may not be on a mala but someone else "keeping track". I do not consider it (mala and "rounds") a requirement in my life right now, I do not think it is a reqiurement of Hinduism generally but it is true that is can be an oath you may take to a teacher or school/sect to do "rounds" such as 16 of 108 and you should keep your promises.

    Om Namah Sivaya

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