Be grateful for the gift of Mantra. Mantra is a Sanskrit term meaning, "vehicle for the mind." The term combines "mannas" (Sanskrit for mind) and "tra," (Sanskrit root of the suffix, "tron"). As an electron is the vehicle for electricity, so the mantra is a vehicle to carry the mind inward, through subtler strata of energy, until awareness merges in its silent source, which is unbounded universal consciousness.
A living mantra cannot be learned from a book or picked up in a casual conversation. Then it is just a hollow shell, an echo. The mantra must be ignited from that very inner source to which it guides the mind. It must be a "chaitanya" mantra, a living seed. This ignition happens at initiation, under the auspice of a guru.
Westerners give little credence to initiation, as there is no correlate for initiation in modern culture. But once there was. References to mantra initiation abound among both Christian and Jewish Gnosticism. The Nag Hammadi library of the early Christians, and classics of Jewish Kabbala such as the Sepher Yetsirah and the Book Bahir, expound the ancient science of mantra. Christian and Jewish mystics practiced Mantra, "the way of the divine Name." But in our modern culture, words have lost their mantric quality, and have become mere information: abstractions without energy.
Our media revel in mere words, with no attention to the energy that words may carry. Very few of our words are charged with consciousness.
Intellectuals write PHD theses and give lectures. Authors publish thousands of texts and articles. The news media churn out words by the millions. We spend much of our day in chatter and gossip. But how many of these words actually transform our awareness, or heal our bodies?
A mantra is a different kind of word, directly related to the Word of creation. A Vedic text declares, "Adau Bhagavan shabdha rasahi: In the beginning, the Lord first manifested the universe through a stream of sound." The Upanishads assert: "In the beginning was the syllable Om. All that was, is, or ever will be, is created through the sound of Om." The first verses of John's Gospel echo the Upanishads: "In the beginning was the Word... all things were created through the Word." Modern physics also recognizes that the universe is all vibrating energy, in a resonance of fields emanating from the silence of the vacuum.
The practical application of "creation through the Word" is the science of mantra. Through the effortless mental refinement that happens when we meditate with a chaitanya mantra, our physiology is also refined. The mantra is a vibration as substantial to the body as to the mind. Attuned to the healing resonance of the mantra, every nerve and atom in this body resonates to a singularity, which is like an inward star. This luminous vibration may be experienced in the forehead, the crown, the throat, the abdomen, or the heart, wherever in the body healing is needed.
The inward tuning fork of mantra harmonies the complex symphony of our physiology into one luminous chord, which we experience as samadhi, the bliss of pure consciousness.
Gratitude to Guru Dev for the gift of the mantra!
Painting: Jagat-Guru Sri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math, who is just one drop in the river of divine grace flowing down to us through the ages, from Lord Narayana to Veda Vyasa to Adi Shankara and his disciples, to the present time. Guru Dev was the inspiration of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.