Mantra

The mantra is like a rocket engine that propels the mind beyond the “gravitational fields” of the lower levels of consciousness, through all the turbulence of the subconscious mind, to the superconscious mind, and beyond. Thus, a correct process of meditation involves the generation of immense psychic energy through concentration on the mantra.

Some systems of meditation which involve internal repetition of certain sounds advise the meditators not to concentrate on the sound. Such techniques are quite relaxing and refreshing, but for spiritual elevation, concentration is essential. The fixed attention of the mind on any object of thought will produce the necessary internal energy to elevate the mind to subtler levels. Experiments on Ananda Marga meditators, whose process uses concentration, have shown that, rather than being asleep or passively relaxed, their bodies and minds are in a state of physiological activity: more energy, rather than less, is flowing through them.

Three Qualities of a Mantra:

What is the special effect of the mantra, that by focusing the mind on it, one can transcend the ignorance and illusions of the lower mind?

A mantra must have three qualities to hold the restless mind steady, to energize it, and to transport it to subtler realms. It must be pulsative, incantative and ideative.

First Quality of a Mantra: Pulsative

First, it must be pulsative. It must be of two syllables so that it can flow rhythmically with the breathing, for the breathing has a profound effect upon the state of one’s consciousness. You may have noticed that whenever you are angry or upset, your breathing is fast and short; but when you are absorbed in any task, you naturally breathe slowly and deeply.

Breathing is closely associated with the flow of vital energy (prana) in the body, which in turn greatly affects the mind. If the breathing is fast and irregular, the prana becomes unsteady and agitated; the mind becomes disturbed and perception and thinking are unclear. Pranayama, control of breathing, is an important part of yoga training. The more the breathing is slowed and regulated, the greater the composure in the prana, and the greater the concentration and control of the mind.

Thus the mantra must be of two syllables so that its slow and rhythmic internal chanting will serve to slow the breathing, steady the prana, and calm and control the restless wandering of the mind.

Second Quality: Incantative

The second quality is incantative. The mantra must have a certain sound, a certain vibrational pattern so that when it is chanted internally, it will elevate the individual’s own vibration, or “entitative (personal) rhythm”.

Each entity of this creation has its own particular rhythm, its own note in the universal harmony. From pulsing quasars to oscillating electrons – from the ultrasonic melody of mountain ranges to the ceaseless reverberation of the creatures, singing and drumming, whirring and clicking, laughing and crying – all the notes are orchestrated in a vast cosmic concert.

The source of this ceaseless rhythmic movement is the Infinite Consciousness, soundless and still, the ocean of peace. Undisturbed by any vibration, it flows in an infinite straight line through eternity.

The ancient sages, who had merged their minds in this sea of unexpressed Consciousness, realised that the universe is a vibrational play of varied waves with different wavelengths. Using their intuition, they came to understand the laws of universal harmonics governing this vibrational flow, and they developed a subtle science of sound to affect the rhythms of creation.

Indian music, developed by the great yoga master, Shiva, over seven thousand years ago, was one branch of that science. The classical ra’gas, or musical scales, are so subtly attuned to the rhythms of nature that each raga is to be played or sung only in a certain season and at a certain time of the day, to produce a specific emotional effect in the musician and audience. One raga is played only at dawn in the spring, to evoke the mood of universal love, another is sung only during the evening in summer, to arouse compassion; still another only during midday in the rainy season, to summon courage.

It is said that the masters of music had control over not only human emotions, but over natural manifestations as well; they could produce heat and rainfall at will, and the vibrations of their voices alone would cause finely-tuned musical instruments to resonate in accompaniment.

But the subtlest of all these sciences of sound was the science of mantra. The masters knew that each individual’s personal rhythm vibrates at a particular frequency. Like many instruments in a symphony playing in harmony, the combination of all the various “bio-rhythms” of mind and body (psychic waves, heart beat, metabolic rate, etc.) produces the individual’s particular “melody”. If this individual melody is raised to subtler and slower frequencies, it ultimately becomes infinite – and the mind merges in boundless Cosmic Consciousness.

Through long inner experimentation, the yogis developed a series of powerful sounds or mantras which, when chanted internally, resonate with the individual’s personal rhythm and gradually transform it into the infinite straight line of Supreme Peace.

These sounds originated from inside their own bodies, and were systematised into the oldest alphabet and language on earth – Sanskrit.

Sanskrit: The Human Body’s Eternal Song

Close your eyes for a moment and just listen.

What did you hear? Even when we are in a “quiet” environment, so many sounds bombard our ears: the dull drone of machines, distant voices carried on the wind, bird songs, telephones, construction noises, traffic. It seems impossible to escape external noise in this modern world.

But if we can withdraw our minds from these external sounds, we will hear much subtler, inner vibrations. In the absolute stillness of soundproof chambers in scientific laboratories, insulated from all external noise, some people have been able to hear some of these internal sounds: a high-pitched resonance, a deep throbbing and the pulsing of their blood.

Thousands of years ago, yogis meditating in the silence of caves or mountains, were able to withdraw their minds not only from external sounds, but from the noises of the physical body as well. They could then focus their minds on centres of subtle energy inside them. Along the spine and in the brain, there are seven psychic energy centres, called chakras, which control the functioning of mind and body. Most human beings are unaware of these chakras, but when the mind and body become more refined through meditation, these subtle energy centres can be perceived and controlled.

The chakras have been described by enlightened saints and mystics of many spiritual paths and cultures – by Buddhists, ancient Chinese, Hindus, Tantriks, Christian and Jewish mystics, Sufis, and Native American Indians. Recently, science has detected them as well. Sensitive instruments have measured energy emanations (beyond frequencies which are known to come from biochemical, anatomic systems), surging from the surface of the body at the exact locations of the chakras.

Those ancient yogis who directed their inner ear toward these energy centres, were able to hear the subtle vibrations emanating from each of them – 49 different vibrations in all. Then they spoke them aloud, and each of these subtle inner sounds became one letter of the Sanskrit alphabet

Thus, the Sanskrit language was developed from the externalised sounds of our subtle internal energies. It is the human body’s eternal song.

Mantra Transforms the Entitative Rhythm

The yogis then combined these powerful sounds into mantras which are attuned to the universal rhythms of the cosmos. As in ancient times, today a student must learn their mantra from a qualified teacher. According to one’s entitative (personal) rhythm, they will receive their personal mantra for concentration. Thus, people of all nationalities, regardless of their language, will use Sanskrit mantras for meditation, because Sanskrit is the universal language for self-realisation.

The repeated chanting of the subtle inner music of the mantra (the “incantative rhythm”) in meditation vibrates the chakras and stills the restlessness of the mind.

Gradually, the meditator’s personal rhythm slows down in resonance with the mantra.

Finally, it merges with the cosmic rhythm, into the eternally still and serene sea of Cosmic Consciousness, the goal of all yoga practice.

The Third Quality of a Mantra: Ideative

The mantra is not only a vibratory, pulsating sound that harmonises all the rhythms of the mind arid body with the Supreme Rhythm. It has a specific meaning as well.

Yogis have long taught the simple truth: “As you think, so you become.” It is now accepted in psychology that the mind becomes like its object of ideation. Experiments have shown that our consciousness tends to merge or identify with any focus of attention that is maintained for a sufficient period. Thus visualizations and affirmations will gradually transform our minds according to their object of concentration.

Understanding that people are often limited by the negative or inferior ideas they have of themselves, psychologists attempt to change our “self-image” and thus to completely transform our personality.

Today, the “power of positive thinking,” including positive affirmations and creative visualisations, is used by many people all over the world to become more successful, more popular, more wealthy. But the goal of yoga is not so narrow or limited as worldly success or wealth. It is nothing less than infinity – the infinite expansion of one’s mind to merge with the Supreme Consciousness.

Thus, the process of meditation also employs a repeated affirmation: the meaning of the mantra. Although each mantra has its specific meaning, in general they refer to an idea such as “I am Infinite Consciousness” or “I am one with That.” Actually, this is the reality – on the highest levels of our being, we are infinite and we always have been; we do not realize it because we identify with our small egos, with the limited lower levels of our minds.

So by daily practice, by the constant ideation, “I am That,” we gradually lessen our false identification with our body and lower mind, and identify with the blissful Self within. As the mind gradually, imperceptibly expands through higher and higher layers, one glorious day we become completely free from all the bondages of ego and realise that we are not this body, we are not this mind, we are not this imperfect personality – we are infinite. We are the Supreme Consciousness. In that moment, we go beyond the mantra – beyond pulsation, beyond vibration, beyond ideation – and in breathless silence, we dissolve into ecstatic union with the origin of all.

Sooner or later, we will all experience it – it is the birthright of every human being. Each person is a channel for infinite power and energy and knowledge – a vessel to be filled with this never–ending bliss. The revelations of dreams, hypnosis, hallucinations, creative flashes, and intuitional foresight have given us some idea of the limitless resources of our inner spaces. Now we must check the external drift of our minds and turn our awareness in upon itself so we can explore the Kingdom of Light within.

“The Supreme Consciousness is inside you like butter in milk; churn your mind through meditation and He will appear – you will see that the resplendence of the Supreme Consciousness illumines your whole inner being. He is like a subterranean river in you. Remove the sands of mind and you will find the clear, cool waters within.”
Shrii Shrii Anandamurti


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