Dr. Daniel Coleman, associate editor of Psychology Today and author of The Varieties of Meditative Experiences, after studying the meditational techniques of members of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, said, “I found the Hare Kṛṣṇa devotees to be well-integrated, friendly, and productive human beings. In a culture like ours, in which inner, spiritual development is almost totally neglected in favor of materialistic pursuits, we might have something to learn from their meditational practices.“
Everyone knows that a happy life requires good health. Proper diet, adequate exercise, and sufficient rest are necessary to keep our bodies strong and fit. If we neglect these demands, our bodies become weakened and resistance wanes. Highly susceptible to infection, we eventually become ill.
More important, but less well known, is the inner self’s need for spiritual nourishment and attention. If we ignore our spiritual health requirements, we become overwhelmed by negative material tendencies like anxiety, hatred, loneliness, prejudice, greed, boredom, envy, and anger.
In order to counteract and prevent these subtle infections of the self, we should, as recommended in the Vedic literatures, incorporate into our lives a program of self-examination and steady inner growth, based on spiritual strength and clarity of thought.
The transcendental potency necessary for developing complete psychological and spiritual fulfillment is already present within everyone. It must, however, be uncovered by a genuine spiritual process. Of all such authentic processes, India’s timeless Vedas tell us that meditation on the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is the most powerful.
The initial result of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra is summarized by Śrīla Prabhupāda in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gītā: “We have practical experience that any person who is chanting the holy names of Kṛṣṇa (Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare) in course of time feels some transcendental pleasure and very quickly becomes purified of all material contamination.”
In the preliminary stages of chanting, the practitioner experiences a clearing of consciousness, peace of mind, and relief from unwanted drives and habits. As one develops more realization by chanting, he perceives the original, spiritual existence of the self. According to the Bhagavad-gītā, this enlightened state “is characterized by one’s ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self “
And in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta, a seventeen-volume commentary on the life and teachings of Śrī Caitanya, founder of the modern-day Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, the ultimate benefit of chanting is described. “The result of chanting is that one awakens his love for Kṛṣṇa and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Kṛṣṇa and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love.“
So by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, one reaps innumerable benefits, culminating in Kṛṣṇa consciousness and love of God. We can realize the fruits of chanting by adopting the process of mantra meditation and applying it systematically. For clear understanding of the progressive effects of chanting, some of the more important benefits are discussed separately.