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What is Mantra Meditation?


What is Mantra Meditation?

Mantra Meditation is the technique of repeating a pure sound vibration (mantra) to bring inner peace.

Although gaining popularity in the Western world in recent decades, it is nothing new. Throughout time and in myriad cultures, the wise have practiced the art and science of chanting to achieve their desires.

What is a mantra?

Stated simply, a mantra is a sound vibration. The word "mantra" is a Sanskrit word consisting of two syllables: "man" (mind) and "tra" (deliverance). In the strictest sense, a mantra is a pure sound vibration which delivers the mind from its material inclinations and illusion. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra. This act of chanting mantras is Mantra Meditation.

But not all mantras are "mantras" and not all "mantras" are mantras... which is to say that not all transcendental vibrations are actually called mantras and not just any sound vibration will bring success.

Not all mantras are "mantras"

In William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Juliet observes

    What's in a name? That which we call a rose
    By any other word would smell as sweet.

The potency of a mantra does not come simply by its being categorized as a mantra. Mantras exist in a variety of forms, under a variety of names... each as sweet.

Some spiritualists repeat prayers in much the same way that one might chant mantras. For example Catholic pratictioners recite prayers while counting on rosary beads. Even Jesus himself set the example for his disciples to pray in a consistent manner when he delivered the Lord's Prayer. These prayers- especially when repeated regularly- are also mantras even though they humbly shy away from the mantra label.

In every religious tradition, one finds hymns and songs in praise of the Supreme. Even up to the present day, millions daily sing King David's ancient Psalms, a striking testament to the potency of spiritual sound vibrations. These songs- whether set to music, recited orally or even read silently- are examples of mantras which retain their delivering power, despite dancing outside the mantra category.

Not all "mantras" are mantras

Although Juliet's observation sheds light on a fundamental truth, one should take care not to misapply her wisdom. Even though a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a rock will never smell sweet no matter what its name.

For example, members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are famous for chanting the "Hare Krishna Mantra," which consists of three names of God: Hare, Krishna and Rama.

    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

These names of God are not the inventions of a modern guru, but are actually bona fide names which appear countless times in the ancient scriptures of India. Similarly, the Hare Krishna Mantra appears in sacred texts, and is thus not a modern invention.

But imagine if the devotees of Krishna began to chant "Elvis Presley Elvis Presley Presley Presley Elvis Elvis." Clearly, no one would reasonably expect the same results, nor would their movement last very long (except perhaps in Memphis, Tennessee).

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