Mantras: Uplifting Words
by Nischala Joy Devi.
April 18, 2014.
The word “mantra” has found its way into our common language usage today. It is always amusing for me to open the newspaper and find the word mantra in the comics or the financial section. They use it to mean a word that, when spoken, wields its own power. In the ancient Sanskrit language Man means mind, tra to transcend. A mantra is a word, sound, or phrase that, when repeated, allows us to transcend the thoughts, the mind, and our ordinary view of the world. The constant repetition of the mantra is called japa.
These inspiring words or sounds can come from many traditions, old and new. Those found in holy books or ancient languages have a certain uplifting vibrational quality. With these words, it is not just the meaning but a very special quality that has vibrated from the beginning of time.
The repetition of a word or prayer shows strongly in the Roman Catholic tradition with the rosary. In Russian Orthodoxy, practitioners are encouraged to repeat the Lord Jesus prayer constantly. In the Islamic tradition sacred prayers are repeated five times each day. In Judaism the blessings at meal times, Sabbath, and sacred holidays are echoed from thousands of years to the present.
The Bible tells us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Can you feel a special vibrational quality when going into ancient place of worship? The sound vibration is palpable. Just by sitting in a temple or church, our minds and hearts are immediately uplifted. We are able to feel many thousands of devoted prayers charging the atmosphere with healing vibrations. Even if you are not religious, it is difficult to deny the comfort that can be drawn from such a place.
Words or prayers in ancient languages can be especially powerful when repeated with mind and heart. In Sanskrit Om, the universal consciousness, is chanted as the sound from which all other sounds resonate. Shanti vibrates a feeling of peace. Om Shanti then becomes the universal consciousness as peace. Notice how Om Shanti and Shalom, are similar in sound and even in meaning. In the Christian tradition, prayers to Lord Jesus and Mother Mary are repeated with devotion as is the final Amen. Om, Amen, and Ameen are words that seem to unite us in sound and vibration even if the traditions are diverse.
The idea of universal consciousness and sound may not always resonate to the nonbeliever. One nonbeliever I met, a nuclear physicist, was working on his neutron accelerator at a major university. I had the occasion to stay at his home when his wife, a yoga teacher, invited me to give a talk at the university. After the evening event, the scientist and I exchanged many questions. At first it seemed as if we were speaking very different languages although we both spoke English. I was fascinated by advanced physics, even though I could not pass Physics 101!
He told me that a probe in the far reaches of the universe had just sent back a sound. This was a surprise to scientists at that time. Most expected the emptiness of space also to be void of any sound. The sound, when described to me, put a smile on my face. It was the cosmic hum, the Om sound!
Science and spirituality are only at opposite ends of the spectrum if the spectrum is linear. A circular pattern puts the two “ends” right next to each other! In the beginning, middle, and always is the sound or word.
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