Meditation Mantras – Help or Hindrance?

Today at Sarvodaya's Early Morning meditationThe use of mantras has become a widely accepted tool in meditation. But, are they a help or a hindrance?

The purpose of meditation is to develop Receptivity to Our Soul’s “Voice”, to become Aware of Our Spiritual Self beyond the mental realm. Mere repetition of a word actually keeps us bound to mentality unless there is a clear intention to rise above it. Sadly, that is not usually the case. More often than not, we just want to make our life happier, healthier or wealthier. And, repeating a word over and over, of itself, will not do that. It will only serve to put us into an hypnotic stupor.

It’s only as a particular word or phrase is contemplated for it’s deeper meaning, a meaning that we don’t know yet, that we rise above our normal thoughts and words into a state of Receptive Silence. This is the place where something Spiritual can enter our Consciousness.

So, if  you are going to use a mantra,

  1. Choose the word wisely. It’s no use contemplating a word that you already know the meaning of; that you are not drawn to; or, that is nonsensical. For instance; you would only use the word “om” if you were curious to understand it’s meaning. And, in that case, why repeat it numbingly? If “om” doesn’t do anything for you, it might be better to contemplate the word “Love”, “Wisdom” or “I”.
  2. Don’t repeat the word mindlessly. On its own, it has no meaning whatsoever. It’s just a word. Instead, adopt a curious attitude as if you are waiting for an answer to “What is Love?”, “What is Wisdom?” or “Who am I?” Then wait. To continually repeat a word for repetitions sake would not only numb the mind, it would prevent you Hearing the Response. Moreover, you would find that you couldn’t maintain the repetition for long before you were distracted with other, more “meaningful” thoughts, like “what’s for dinner?”
  3. Do it privately. Our Soul speaks to Us through Our Individual Mind, never as a group. You can be in a group, but the group will not rise together. Beware of so-called spiritual activities like chanting. They can actually hinder your Spiritual progress by bolstering the ego. This was the reason why Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount…”But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:7

Therefore, mantras can be useful, not for the words we repeat, but for the Spiritual inner meaning of which we become Aware.

4 thoughts on “Meditation Mantras – Help or Hindrance?

  1. I agree that reciting mantras has the potential to become both a blessing and a hindrance. Mantras are tools for tuning into higher levels of consciousness; the problem is when you get attached to the tool for the sake of using the tool alone. Mantras can point you in the right direction, however there comes a time when you need to put them down and sit still in silence. That said, I’ve found Mantra to be an incredible catalyst in my spiritual growth.

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