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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MANTRA YOGA


MANTRA YOGA
Mantra-Yoga, the path of transformative sound, is an integral aspect of Tantra but also can be pursued as a separate yoga path. It is often considered the least complex of all forms of Yoga because it involves no complicated practices. The essence of Mantra-Yoga is the regular and prolonged recitation, japa of one or more potent sounds (mantra), which awaken the Cakras (chakras) and the serpent power Kundalini.
Bhakti Yoga is the most popular mantra yoga known as Yoga of Love and Compasion. The term bhakti, derived from the root bhaj, is generally renderd as devotion, or love. Bhakti-Yoga is thus the Yoga of loving self-dedication to, and love-participation in the divine Person. In Bhakti-Yoga, the emotional force of the human being is purified and channeled toward the Divine. In their discipline of ecstatic self-transcendence, the bhakti-yogins, or bhaktas tend to be more openly expressive than the typical raja-yogin, or jnanin. The followers of Bhakti-Yoga do not, for instance, shy away from shedding tears of longing for the Divine. In this approach, the transcendental Reality is usually conceived as a supreme Person rather than as an impersonal Absolute. Many practitioners of this path even prefer to look upon the Divine as an Other. They speak of communion and partial merging with God rather than total identification, as in Jnana-Yoga.
Mantras (or mantrams) are words, phrases, or syllables which are chanted thoughtfully and with growing attention! Mantra yoga meditation involves chanting a word or phrase until the mind and emotions are transcended and the superconscious is clearly revealed and experienced. Since the mind wanders so much, the music of a mantra easily rescues the mind and brings it back to the object of one’s meditation. Both the rhythm of it and the meaning of it combine to guide the mind safely back to the point of meditation — the higher consciousness or the specific spiritual focus.
A Background on Mantrams
Typical mantrams are: Aum (Om), meaning Spirit, the Word of God, which creates, preserves, and transforms. The most profound, yet simple of the mantrams is AUM or OM. It is called “the name of God in sound”. The mantra AUM, made up three and a half syllables. The syllable 'A'. The first aspect is the waking state, vaiswaanara. In this state, consciousness is turned to the external. With its seven instrument and nineteen channnels, it experiences the gross phenomenal world. The Syllable 'U'. The second aspect is the dreaming state, taijasa. In this state consciousness is turned inward. It also has seven instrument and nineteen channels, which experiences the subtle mental impressions. The Syllable 'M'. The third aspect is deep sleep, prajna. In this state, there is neither desire nor dream. In deep sleep all experiences merge into the unity of undifferentiated consciousness. The sleeper is filled with bliss and experiences bliss and can find the way to knowledge of the two preceding states.
Another one is the Himalayan Shivaist mantram: AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA!, which usually is translated as "Om Homage to the Highest Lord God". Well known is the Hindu mantram: Asato Ma Sat Gamaya!, which means "Lead me from the unreal to the Real."
There are thousands of Veda mantrams which are mainly from the ancient Sanskrit language. Possibly, in time, affirmations will be in English from well known Sanskrit mantras. What such a development would require is a number of great meditators of modern day to be so attuned to the Lord and so at ease within the realms of higher consciousness that these ancient mantrams can easily be revealed to them. All mantrams are the result of a revelation, usually to some deeply meditating adept. Mantras are always in Sanskrit which is Heavenly language of Gods, Devas descended into Earth externally or inwardly as Avataras Incarnation. There is no Avatara (God's Man) without knowing Sanskrit language very well!
Mantram Meditation
Generally mantram meditation involves chanting out loud at first until the body is calm and the atmosphere around oneself is serene and pleasant for meditation. Then whisper meditation almost automatically occurs and the life force begins to withdraw inward from "out-loud" chanting to whisper chanting. In whisper chanting the pranathe life force in the body, is balanced and harmonized, preparing the way for a deeper state of serenity - and of the balance of mind and emotions. Whisper chanting easily dissolves and the life force moves even deeper within as you enter mental chanting. Mental chanting is practiced as long as thoughts are occurring to the mind. Whenever the mind is distracted, the mantram is simply chanted in the same area of the mind that the distraction is occurring. The mantram always wins if given a chance. As the mantram frees you from one thought, then another, and also helps to dissolve distractions, the mantram then begins to reach the border of superconsciousness. Chanting becomes effortless. No effort, nor warding off distractions is needed. Chanting becomes a pleasure. Peace and gentle joy fill your mind.
What the mantram does next
At this point of effortless mental chanting the mantram can do two things: It may dissolve into superconsciousness, or It may first help ventilate the subconscious mind, the storage house of your old thoughts, feelings, and memories which have been sadly neglected or not successfully dealt with. The mantram may create an opportunity for old thoughts and feelings, old fears and guilts, to be released, or healed, or let go. What happens next? If your mental chanting first becomes effortless and ventilates the subconscious pressures, it then moves into your superconscious self. Or, the effortless chanting bypasses the subconscious basement of your mind, going directly into sublime superconsciousness. Either way, you arrive in your ecstatic, heavenly nature. The words of the mantram fall apart and fall away. Only the energy surge of the mantram remains as your awareness becomes blissful and full of light.
Ecstasy Through Mantra Yoga
In this ecstatic stage of continuous rapture, you feel that you have arrived home. You sense that this is your true nature - and your true estate, which has been ignored due to the dominance of the mind, the emotions, and the outer world. You will likely have a very pleasant fifteen to twenty minutes in the delight and comfort of your superconscious self; and then the mantram will begin to come out. You will find your higher consciousness wants to come back to the outer world. It wants to express, to touch your life and loved ones. The words of the mantram re-emerge in the mind and you reverse the whole process, going gradually into whisper - and then out loud - chanting. Ultimately a mantram meditator lives in the ecstasy of the mantram, always aglow with the meaning and spiritual insight of the special syllables. In order to be sure a mantram is right for you, seek a mantram only from a Sri Guru or Master who is qualified to teach and initiate you.
MANTRAS
Mantras are articulate sounds, which unite the sub-conscious, consciousness and superconsciousness. A Mantra must be specifically constructed and not just any sound. Mantris are Mantra-makers. Hermetic philosophy and the ancient Arcanaused vocal sounds called runes to evoke certain psychic forces, both high and low. Although some of the Mantras are said to be associated with the gods, they eventually unite functions of the five bodies, the Pancha koshas (panCa koSas). The most profound, yet simple of the mantrams is AUM or OM. It is called “the name of God in sound”.
Awakening Kundalini is effected by Mantra also which is a portion of Bhakti Yoga. All aspirants should repeat the Mantragiven by their Guru many lakhs of times. During the time of Diksha of an Uttama Adhikari, the Guru utters a particular Mantra and Kundalini is awakened immediately. The consciousness of the student is raised to a very high degree. This depends upon the faith of the student in his Guru and in the Mantra. Mantras, when received from the Guru in person, are very powerful. Aspirants in Kundalini Yoga should take to this Mantra Sadhana only after getting a proper Mantra from a Guru. Therefore we are not touching this point in detail. Mantras when learnt through ordinary friends or through books cannot produce any benefit at all. Mantras are numerous and the Guru should select a particular Mantra by which the consciousness of a particular student can be awakened.
Mantras can excite the emotions and give suggestions to the mind. Mantras affect both the one who chants them as the one who hears them. The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit "mantrana", which means advice or suggestion. In a sense, such a deep word of Guru is a mantra. In our daily life we use words to get everything done, obtain everything we need. Each mantra or word is a sound pattern that suggests to the mind the meanings inherent in it, and the mind immediately responds.
According to Ramana Maharshi, repetition of mantras (japa), with attention directed to the source of the sound, completely engages the mind. This is Tapas - penance. The source is not in the vocal chords alone, but also the idea of the sound is in the mind, whose source is self. Thus the practice of mantra repetition is more than a suggestion, a bit of advice or an idea. It is a means of getting in touch with our self. Mantras may be used for religious worship, for japa (repetition), for healing, to help spiritual evolution, for purification, for making offerings and in Mantra Yoga. Some mantras are only chants or expressions of nearness to the Divine. But some saints who were inspired by divine love and unshakable faith used these mantras in their own spiritual practice and their followers afterwards started using those mantras, calling them mahamantras or great mantras.
Primarily it is faith which creates the effect of mantras. Melody, intonation, pronunciation, whether silently or aloud, all are important in the recitation of mantras. Moreover, the beat cycle in which mantras are recited is important, but it changes according to the state of consciousness of the one who is chanting. An increase in the speed of chanting increases the speed of mind, heartbeat and respiration. The beat cycle of the mantras affects the emotions. A fast speed sometimes creates a continuous vibration and when it is done in groups it creates a good effect, because the mind works in synchronization with the beat cycle and has no time to fantasize. Fast chanting of mantras exhausts the mind, heart and breath and relaxation comes after the chanting is over. Slowing the beat cycle of mantras also creates the same continuous vibration, but it slows down the speed of mind, heart and breath while the chanting is going on. It induces a hypnagogic state, but it is good only when the chanting of mantras is done individually. A medium-speed beat cycle is good for group and individual chanting of mantras. It does not disturb the heartbeat or breathing pattern and makes the mind more awake, alert and conscious.
The place from which the sound emanates influences its' tonal quality. Deep tones are produced by the vocal chords in conjunction with the abdominal region, middletones in conjunction with the chest, heart and throat regions and high-pitched tones in conjunction with the upper region of the body. Indian classical music uses all three regions in a gradual order, but the middle region is used most and produces a greater emotional impact on the listeners.
MANTRA AND SAHASRARA
Mantra Yoga is an intricate study of sound and its influence on energy, on mind, and on the external world. More than just chanting of certain sounds, this goes more deeply into the essence of what sound is as vibration, what type of sounds affect which area of the body, mind, - what the mental reactions are etc. Then comes the application of certain sound formulas to create the desired results. Fundamentally it comes down to the reality that all is energy and that energy is in a state of vibration - vibration is sound. Practice of Mantra will unfold the 7th Chakra: Sahasrara. GOD'S CONSCIOUSNESS itself is the seventh element; a form of primeval power that is the awareness of all the other forces. This element is not of the physical world yet permeates it to the deepest level. Awareness as an element is part of the eternal realm of the universe, that part of each individual that goes on from body to body. Wherever you go there must be an awareness of being there, whether it be heaven, hell or earth you are conscious of being there. It is the constant essence. It is difficult to say how one experiences this particular element because this is the element that does the experiencing, the witness to all of life.
SAHASRARA CHAKRA is actually centered above the head though its awareness goes through all aspects of the body. This being the center of your conscious experience it has the strong tendency in normal life to become wrapped up in the vortex of mind energies that keep it entertained for ages on end. Yet, it has the power to direct all functions of the energies at the six levels below it, when it is free. From this Chakra one has immediate access to the energies of the universe above and to the knowledge of eternity. For this the awareness must be focused upward and away from bodily or earthly concerns. The PINEAL gland is influenced by the energy of this center and in turn directly influences the pituitary gland. In studies done with light and color for instance it was seen that the energy impulses coming through the optic nerves, from whatever color one is looking at, influenced the pineal gland to put out certain hormones that tend to govern the hormones subsequently produced by the pituitary. Each color and form has a specific influence on the entire endocrine system. As an experiment try looking at an attractive mandala, then switching to an attractive member of the opposite sex, naked, and observe your mental, emotional and physiological reactions to what your eyes are seeing. Observe and draw your conclusions; then you may decide to choose carefully what you focus your attention on. CENTER is the direction, or could we say inward. From this center you might go North, South, East, West, Down or Up but they are all away from the Center of yourSelf.
POWER OF SOUND AND NAME
The power of sounds is tremendous. Ideas are generated in the mind by the mere hearing of sounds. Every name has a form corresponding to it. Sabda and artha (word and its meaning) are inseparable. The form related to a name is at once manifested in the mind the moment that name is heard by the ears and transmitted to the mental consciousness. There are names denoting forms that are abhorred and there are names denoting forms that are much desired. Pains and pleasures become the experiences in the mind when it is aware of hateful and delightful objects, respectively, through hearing of them. When anyone suddenly shouts: "Scorpion! Scorpion!" "Snake! Snake!", you at once apprehend the scorpion or the snake and jump in fright. When anyone calls you a "donkey" or an "ass" you are annoyed and you show anger. Why do you do this? Because there is created in your mind the consciousness of your supposed contact or identity with something that you think is very dangerous or far inferior to you. So you get terrified or feel that you are depreciated. That is why you jump in fear when you hear of the presence of a scorpion or a snake near you, and do not tolerate your being addressed as a donkey or an ass. Through anger, you wish to show that you are not a donkey.
When such is the power of the name of an ordinary thing of this world, what a tremendous power should there be in the name of God! God is the completion or the fullness of existence. Hence the name that denotes Him too is full and perfect. Therefore, the power of the name of God is incalculable, for it is the height or the zenith of power. The name of God can achieve anything. There is nothing impossible for it. It is the means to the realisation of God Himself. Even as the name of a thing in this world generates the consciousness of that thing in the mind, the name of God generates God-consciousness in the purified mind and becomes the direct cause of the realisation of the highest perfection, i.e., God, freedom and immortality.