MANTRA THEORY AND SAMPLES
A saying from the Vedas claims that "Speech is the essence of humanity." All of what humanity thinks and ultimately becomes is determined by the expression of ideas and actions through speech and its derivative, writing. Everything, the Vedas maintain, comes into being through speech. Ideas remain unactualized until they are created through the power of speech. Similarly, The New Testament, starts "In the beginning was The Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God..."
In mainstream Vedic practices, most Buddhist techniques and classical Hinduism, mantra is viewed as a necessity for spiritual advancement and high attainment. In The Kalachakra Tantra, by the Dalai Lama and Jeffrey Hopkins, the Dalai Lama states, "Therefore, without depending upon mantra...Buddhahood cannot be attained."
Clearly, there is a reason why such widely divergent sources of religious wisdom as the Vedas, the New Testament and the Dalai Lama speak in common ideas. Here are some important ideas about mantra which will enable you to begin a practical understanding of what mantra is and what it can do.
Saying any word produces an actual physical vibration. Over time, if we know what the effect of that vibration is, then the word may come to have meaning associated with the effect of saying that vibration or word. This is one level of energy basis for words.
Another level is intent. If the actual physical vibration is coupled with a mental intention, the vibration then contains an additional mental component which influences the result of saying it. The sound is the carrier wave and the intent is overlaid upon the wave form, just as a colored gel influences the appearance and effect of a white light.
In either instance, the word is based upon energy. Nowhere is this idea more true than for Sanskrit mantra. For although there is a general meaning which comes to be associated with mantras, the only lasting definition is the result or effect of saying the mantra.
The human consciousness is really a collection of states of consciousness which distributively exist throughout the physical and subtle bodies. Each organ has a primitive consciousness of its own. That primitive consciousness allows it to perform functions specific to it. Then come the various systems. The cardio-vascular system, the reproductive system and other systems have various organs or body parts working at slightly different stages of a single process. Like the organs, there is a primitive consciousness also associated with each system. And these are just within the physical body. Similar functions and states of consciousness exist within the subtle body as well. So individual organ consciousness is overlaid by system consciousness, overlaid again by subtle body counterparts and consciousness, and so ad infinitum.
The ego with its self-defined "I" ness assumes a pre-eminent state among the subtle din of random, semi-conscious thoughts which pulse through our organism. And of course, our organism can "pick up" the vibration of other organisms nearby. The result is that there are myriad vibrations riding in and through the subconscious mind at any given time.
Mantras start a powerful vibration which corresponds to both a specific spiritual energy frequency and a state of consciousness in seed form. Over time, the mantra process begins to override all of the other smaller vibrations, which eventually become absorbed by the mantra. After a length of time which varies from individual to individual, the great wave of the mantra stills all other vibrations. Ultimately, the mantra produces a state where the organism vibrates at the rate completely in tune with the energy and spiritual state represented by and contained within the mantra.
At this point, a change of state occurs in the organism. The organism becomes subtly different. Just as a laser is light which is coherent in a new way, the person who becomes one with the state produced by the mantra is also coherent in a way which did not exist prior to the conscious undertaking of repetition of the mantra.
They are formidable. They are ancient. They work. The word "mantra" is derived from two Sanskrit words. The first is "manas" or "mind," which provides the "man" syllable. The second syllable is drawn from the Sanskrit word "trai" meaning to "protect" or to "free from." Therefore, the word mantra in its most literal sense means "to free from the mind." Mantra is, at its core, a tool used by the mind which eventually frees one from the vagaries of the mind.
But the journey from mantra to freedom is a wondrous one. The mind expands, deepens and widens and eventually dips into the essence of cosmic existence. On its journey, the mind comes to understand much about the essence of the vibration of things. And knowledge, as we all know, is power. In the case of mantra, this power is tangible and wieldable.
Similarly, there is no word which is the exact equivalent of the experience of sticking one's finger into an electrical socket. When we stick our hand into the socket, only then do we have a context for the word "shock." But shock is really a definition of the result of the action of sticking our hand into the socket.
It is the same with mantras. The only true definition is the experience which it ultimately creates in the sayer. Over thousands of years, many sayers have had common experiences and passed them on to the next generation. Through this tradition, a context of experiential definition has been created.
Let's take an example. The mantra "Shrim" or Shreem is the seed sound for the principle of abundance (Lakshmi, in the Hindu Pantheon.) If one says "shrim" a hundred times, a certain increase in the potentiality of the sayer to accumulate abundance is achieved. If one says "shrim" a thousand times or a million, the result is correspondingly greater.
But abundance can take many forms. There is prosperity, to be sure, but there is also peace as abundance, health as wealth, friends as wealth, enough food to eat as wealth, and a host of other kinds and types of abundance which may vary from individual to individual and culture to culture. It is at this point that the intention of the sayer begins to influence the degree of the kind of capacity for accumulating wealth which may accrue.
Fortunately, most of the mantras widely used in the West and certainly those contained in this volume are perfectly safe to use on a daily basis, even with some intensity.
Some healers operate through transfer of prana. A massage therapist can transfer prana with beneficial effect. Even self-healing can be accomplished by concentrating prana in certain organs, the result of which can be a clearing of the difficulty or condition. For instance, by saying a certain mantra while visualizing an internal organ bathed in light, the specific power of the mantra can become concentrated there with great beneficial effect.
Some of you may be interested or even fascinated by the discipline of mantra, but feel somewhat overwhelmed by the array of mantras and disciplines, astotaras and pujas you find in these pages. If so, then this chapter will be of use to you. The next few pages contain some simple mantras and their common application. They have been compiled from other chapters throughout the rest of this book, drawn from the various headings of the deities or principles involved. These mantras address various life issues which we all face from time to time. If you want more information or more mantras relating to the deities or principles involved, consult the appropriate chapter.
Rough Translation: 'Om and salutations to the remover of obstacles for which Gum is the seed.'
The story of Ganesha is found in the chapter devoted to this principle. But for your immediate need, you need only know that for seen or unseen obstacles which seem to be standing in the way of your progress or achievement, either specifically or generally, this mantra has proved invaluable. It has been used it with great success not only in India, but here in the West dozens of people have related to me their success in turning things around in their life by using this mantra.
Rough Translation: 'Om and salutations to that feminine energy which bestows all manner of wealth, and for which Shrim is the seed'
This mantra has not only been used for the purpose of attracting prosperity, but also for drawing in proper friends, clearing up family misunderstandings and quarrels, and smoothing some health problems. As we all know, there are many different kinds of wealth. As you use this mantra, focus on the kind of wealth you wish to manifest in your life.
Rough Translation: 'Om and Salutations to that feminine energy which protects from all manner of negative influences, and for which Dum is the seed.'
Durga is the Divine Protectress. Typically shown riding a lion or a tiger, Durga has a hundred arms, each with a different weapon of destruction. Yet her face is exquisitely beautiful to behold. The interpretation is that to the pious and the sincere seeker after truth, her sight can produce ecstacy and a variety of beautiful forms. But the negative, harmful or demonic, her countenance is as terrible as Kali, except she shows more weapons of destruction than Kali (who is described later).
Rough Translation: 'Om and salutations to that feminine energy which informs all artistic and scholastic endeavor, and for which Eim (pronounced I'm) is the seed.'
Saraswati holds a musical instrument, the vina, in one hand and a rosary in another hand. She spans the world of mundane knowledge and spiritual understanding. Those pursuing any artistic or educational endeavor whatsoever will gain greatly from the practice of this mantra.
This mantra has no approximate translation. The sounds related directly to the principles which govern each of the first six chakras on the spine...Earth, water, fire, air, ether. Notice that this does not refer to the chakras themselves which have a different set of seed sounds, but rather the principles which govern those chakras in their place. A very rough, non-literal translation could be something like, 'Om and salutations to that which I am capable of becoming.' This mantra will start one out on the path of subtle development of spiritual attainments. It is the beginning on the path of Siddha Yoga, or the Yoga of Perfection of the Divine Vehicle.
Rough Translation: 'Om and Victory to Rama (the self within), victory, victory to Rama.'
Rama was an Avatar who came several thousand years ago. His sole purpose was to show how a person should live a Divine Life while living in a human body. A short story about the esoteric meaning of his life is found in the chapter devoted to him. You will recall from the previous chapter that Mahatma Gandhi practiced this mantra for over 60 years. This mantra will 'take one across' the ocean of rebirth. In a more immediate way, it is most powerful in reducing negative karmic effects no matter in which life they might have occurred. I have also had a powerful spiritual healing experience (for another person), while using this mantra intensely.
Rough translation: 'Om and salutations to the presiding spirit in the planet Saturn.'
Saturn is the planet of lessons. It is closely related to the karma we may encounter in a given lifetime. It also stands as a gatekeeper to some of the higher vibrations to which we aspire though spiritual development. By offering salutations outwardly, one clears certain internal obstructing energy patterns. But Saturn has received an overly negative reputation from some astrologers. There have been circumstances where very positive things manifested in people's lives unexpectedly, apparently as a direct result of working with this mantra.
Internally, Saturn energy is predominant in the spleen, knees and skeletal system. However, as Saturn moves through the various astrological signs, it 'triggers' karma we may have stored under astrological configurations found in that sign. Therefore, the use of the Saturn mantra can mitigate and even clear certain categories of karma which appear in our lives. This mantra has been used with great success personally. And I have received reports of its efficacy from many other people.
Rough translation, 'Om and salutations to the son of Shiva, who brings auspiciousness and who is chief of the celestial army.'
The positive effects of this mantra may not be so clearly seen or described as some of the others: a seeming increase in good fortune or luck; the ability to make the best of a set of circumstances which may occur; an increase in positive mental or emotional disposition; an easier route to becoming physically fit. Yet these few phrases do not begin to exhaust the benefits of using this mantra. It seems to brighten or optimize nearly everything in life.
This is a long mantra to put in a chapter for those just starting off, but is placed here because it is the most powerful healing mantra I have ever encountered. The very rough translation is, 'Om, Oh most compassionate Rama please send your healing energy right here to the earth, to the earth (twice for emphasis.)'
Although the mantra is long, it is simple to say phonetically. If you can, say it 108 times in a sitting. If you are just starting out, this may initially take up to one hour. After you are comfortable with the mantra, it will only take you 30 minutes.
Rough Translation: 'Om, salutations to The Jewel of Consciousness (the mind) which has reached the heart's lotus.'
This mantra is practiced more than any other in the world. It is pre-eminent in producing a state of dynamic compassion in the sayer. Dynamic means that this compassion contains as part of it the ability to powerfully manifest in both subtle and obvious ways. One of the simple yet profound teachings which accompanies this mantra is the concept that when the mind and heart become united, anything is possible. The implications of this simple thought are staggering. If you want to change the world for the better, this mantra should be in your spiritual toolbox. For more on this mantra, see the chapter on the Wesak Festival.
A dedicated group of followers of Kuan Yin use this mantra to invoke her as an emanation of Avaloketeshwara, while others use the mantra
Namo Kuan Shi Yin Pu Sa.
Start by picking some aspect of your life you wish to improve or some vexing problem you would like to solve or dissolve. Then pick a mantra which seems, to you, to apply. Offer a prayer to God, in whatever way you relate to God. Ask for God's blessing in accomplishing your objective in doing this spiritual discipline.
Once you have decided to undertake the discipline and offered your prayers, then pick a place where you will say your mantra for a certain number of times each day. If possible, obtain a rosary of some kind and do your mantras in some multiple of 108. If getting a rosary is not possible, then decide on a certain amount of time you will spend each day saying your mantra. It can be five minutes, ten minutes, twenty minutes or even an hour. For your first experience, any time up to twenty minutes is advisable.
The reason for taking things easy for the first 40 day commitment is due to the cumulative action of the mantra. For the first few days, all will probably go smoothly. Then as you progress, you may find that things start to get in the way of your doing the discipline: You oversleep; there is some minor emergency; you get a cold, whatever. This means that you are beginning to effect the inner 'something' for which you undertook the mantra. You are beginning to encounter inner resistance. That inner resistance manifests as outer obstacles to your discipline. It has almost become a joke in many spiritual circles in which the practice of mantra is common, that something of a very surprising nature happened on day 33 or 35 of a 40 day sadhana. It has happened to me and many others with whom I have spoken on innumerable occasions over the last 22 years.
Develop a sense of humor about it, and be thankful. There is no better indication that your efforts are working than to have small upheavals in your life while you are in the midst of a 40 day mantra discipline. Ask anyone who has undertaken one and they will have some interesting stories for you.
MANAS SIDDHA MANTRAS