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Wise Words
Our authors and book editors offer these choice written selections for your contemplative reading and inspiration.

Thomas Ashley-Farrand: Mantra Meditation



For thousands of years, genuine Sanskrit mantras and spiritual formulas have been practiced in order to work in very specific ways to reduce karma and to attune our minds, bodies, and spirits to the various invisible energies that exist in the universe. Systematic work with mantras also deepens our breath and automatically increases our ability to concentrate. As the mind becomes clearer, new kinds of perceptual information appear to us as our outer awareness expands. Inner awareness also grows as our karmic struggles are burned away through the repetition of these ancient, sacred formulas. We begin to see in new ways, hear in new ways, and understand in new ways.

The word mantra is derived from two Sanskrit words. Its first syllable comes from manas, or “mind,” and the second syllable is drawn from the Sanskrit word trai, which means “to protect” or “to free from.” Therefore, a mantra is a tool, used by the mind, that eventually frees us from the vagaries of the mind.

Repeating any sound produces an actual physical vibration. Nowhere is this idea truer than in Sanskrit mantra. When chanted out loud or silently, mantras create a single, powerful vibration that corresponds both to a specific spiritual energy-frequency and also a state of consciousness in seed form. Over time, the mantra process begins to override and absorb all the other smaller vibrations, which eventually become subsumed within the mantra. After a length of time that varies from individual to individual, the great wave of the mantra overwhelms all other vibrations. Ultimately, when practiced repeatedly, the mantra will result in a subtle change of state in the organism, whereby the organism vibrates at a rate in tune with the energy and spiritual state represented by and contained within the mantra. Just as a laser is light that is coherent in a new way, the person who becomes one with the state produced by the mantra is also coherent in a new way—one that did not exist prior to the conscious undertaking of repetition of the mantra.

When a mantra is chanted over a long period of time, the power of the mantra overcomes all the other vibrations operating in the mind. The first level of this is that the mantra manifests itself in some sort of vision or form to indicate that one has stilled the other vibrations. Then, with continued mantra work, the mind becomes completely still. Now another spiritual dynamic comes into play that the mystics are hard-pressed to explain, because the mind now begins to work in a different way. Some yogis may describe it as “Realization;” the Zen Buddhists describe it as “Nirvana.” The jnanis, or seekers after knowledge, describe it as the beginning of true knowledge—which is quite different from “information” that we may get from books. What all of these and other descriptions have in common is that this state of mind is different and evades ordinary description.

Another aspect of a mantra involves the intention of its use. If the actual physical vibration is coupled with a mental intention, the vibration then contains an additional mental component that influences the result of repeating it. In this way, the sound of the mantra is the carrier wave and the intent is overlaid upon the waveform, just as a colored gel influences the appearance and effect of a white light.

The mantras and practices detailed in this program will all help you achieve deeper concentration, mental clarity, a quieter inner world, and a calmer inner environment, and help you plow through your karmic barriers, obstacles, and conditions. Chanting these mantras will also help you to fulfill your desires and lead you toward spiritual fulfillment.

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