By chanting the Holy Names of the Lord we are able to purify our hearts. By purifying our hearts we are able to understand who we actually are. Some people are prone to visiting psychiatrists to learn more about themselves. I am not against this because in some cases people need someone to really guide them and listen. But if we want to know our true selves, then we must cleanse the mirror of the heart.
By karma we have been given a certain body with traits that reflect our desires carried over from our past lives. We identify with this material body. When we wake up and look in the mirror most of us say I'm looking at myself. But in truth we are only looking at the vehicle that the soul is riding in. Yantrarudhani mayaya- or the machine in which the soul is seated. This is the false ego.
The chanting of Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare is the sacrifice for this age. What is sacrifice? The main sacrifice in this day and age is time. People are busy either in sense gratification or gaining money. Time is seen as valuable if you're engaged in these two activities. So, the chanting is sacrificing your time for the Lord. Instead of using your time for your own selfish agendas, you take the Holy Names.
To those who see sacrifice as a burnt offering or throwing grains into the mouth of Lord Vishnu, the sacrifice of the Holy Names is offering our minds and hearts unto the Lord by concentrating on His Names which are non-different than Him.
So by chanting the Holy Names we sacrifice our time to be with the Lord and by associating with the Lord we are able to establish our true ego- the eternal servant of God. The example given is the iron rod. If you place an iron rod in fire it will become like fire. Anything you touch it to will be burnt. If you place it in the cold, that rod will be cold. So by associating with the Lord we will be placed in our spiritual nature.
How do we receive inspiration for chanting? By associating with the Lord's devotees who are the representatives of Lord Krishna. So really everything depends on association. If we are truly introspective, we will use our intelligence in knowing what is good association and bad association. And we will know when to give our association to help others.
To really surrender to the Holy Names we must cultivate the six symptoms of surrender, which are: accepting that which is favorable for our Krishna consciousness, rejecting that which is unfavorable, knowing that the Lord will give protection, knowing the Lord is your guardian, full self surrender, and humility. And by surrendering to the Holy Names, Krishna will reveal everything to us.