The practice of mantram yoga is well known throughout India as a method of suppressing the wandering tendencies of the mind. A mantram, usually given by a guru or adapted by oneself from a book, is a word or a phrase or even a whole sentence which the practitioner chants to himself or whispers or even mentally utters again and again. Some Sanskrit mantrams are quite meaningless sounds, whereas others are full of metaphysical or religious meaning. Which one is used does not matter from the point of view of acquiring concentration, but it does matter from the point of view of developing any particular quality of character or devotional homage which the mantram symbolizes. This mental or vocal repetition is to be done periodically and faithfully.
The use of mantrams is not peculiar to the Hindu. It is still found in the Roman and Eastern Churches, in the Sufi circles and the Lamaistic prayers.
The mantram is a statement in words or a symbol in picture which declares some truth of higher being, law, attribute, and help, or reminds one of a moral quality to be practised, or acts as a useful self-help self-suggestion. The words can be taken from any inspired scripture, writer, or poet or can be quotations from a philosopher of insight and used as an invocation or affirmation. They should be timely, fitted to the immediate spiritual need of the person.
The Meditation of Constant Remembrance:
A factor in the integral path, besides moral re-education, to which we have not given enough weight in published writings--indeed have hardly mentioned--is self-recollection, the frequent remembrance of the Overself at all times of the day and amidst all kinds of situations. Such remembrance, during the long intervals between formal meditations, is an integral part of this quest. A brief sacred formula expressed in an invocation or affirmation, called "mantram," is most useful for this purpose and is given the disciple so that his remembrance is automatically aroused when habit causes him to repeat its words constantly and mentally. The mantram is a handy device for attracting him to this remembrance and making its achievement easier and sure. A constant technique throughout the day is usually lacking in the knowledge and practice of Western seekers, so they need to learn its efficiency and use. The long hours between meditation periods are wasted. As a sister exercise to the ordinary meditations, it will be useful to many students--whilst as a means to replace them for those students who find formal meditation too difficult or too inconvenient, it is most valuable. It is equivalent to the "right mindfulness" of the Buddhist eightfold path, to the Sufi "Dikr," and to the "correct polarization" in modern psychology.
In choosing a suitable formula for his own use, the student should bear in mind that it is not only remembrance that is needed, but loving remembrance. The mantram for such repetition must not only remind him of the Overself but attract him to it. Hence, it should be one that inspires devotion and uplifts character. It should embody spiritualizing thought and gather ennobling emotion around it. It may consist of a single-word name or attribute of God or of a chosen spiritual guide, but it is preferable and more powerful to use a phrase of three to ten syllables. This may be an invocation to Divinity, or to the guide, or be a beneficent auto-suggestion. It is better, however, to receive such a word or phrase from a qualified teacher at a personal interview, for he will not only choose one especially suitable to the student's spiritual need at the time and therefore apt and forceful but will also impart his own power into it.
The formula must be repeated many times a day and every day in the year. Yet its words should always carry vivid meaning and never be allowed to become mere parrot utterances. There is no fixed time and no particular posture necessary for the practice. It may be muttered half-aloud in the earlier stages, but should become silent and mental in the later stages.
The purposes, benefits, and results of this practice are several:
l. It has an intellectual effect by acting as a reminder or arouser in a busy material life. Thus, the first effect is to arouse thought, the second is to still it.
2. The constant repetition has a mesmeric effect: it lulls the senses and thoughts into semi-inactivity and sets the attention free to pass inward toward the soul and eventually induces the contemplative mood.
3. It develops an acute, growing self-consciousness of the right sort, a constant obsessive suggestion that there is a higher self.
4. It leads to the necessary concentration, which is a door to inner consciousness.
5. Its rhythmic activity aligns and then integrates the different parts of the personality. It also removes their restlessness.
6. It gradually establishes subconscious orientation towards the higher self, which keeps on breaking into the conscious field to the detriment of the lower self; thus it gives direction to thought and purification to character. It enables the seeker, therefore, to go on with everyday external living, knowing that God is working in him internally.
7. It becomes a focus for continuous concentration during active life, even whilst engaged in work, pleasure, or walking.
Forgetfulness of the quest, or of the Overself, besets most aspirants. Here is a valuable remedy. It brings the chosen goal, or the revered ideal, constantly back to their attention.
Practising mantram consists of repeating a selected word over and over, soaking oneself in it. There are three stages: (a) chanting the word out loud; (b) whispering it; (c) repeating it mentally. Then, when repetition ceases, all thoughts cease. Through this constant concentration, the mantram becomes a backdrop to one's daily life. Just as one can hum a tune while attending to other affairs, so the mantram becomes an ever present accompaniment. When one turns full attention onto it and concentrates fully upon it and then stops--all thoughts stop. This is the purpose of the mantram. This result may take weeks or months.
There are three types of mantrams:
(a) the musical (or bhakti) mantram (for example, "Jai Ram"). The musical intonations in repetition of a word (or two words) create an almost hypnotic effect as in a Gregorian chant or Ravel's Bolero.
(b) the meaningful mantram. One selects a word representing a quality one desires and chants it slowly to absorb its meaning; one meditates on the word and the meaning of the word. Eventually the meaning floods gradually into one and he identifies with it. Example: "I am Being."
(c) the meaningless mantram. A useful technique for intellectuals who wish to surmount the barriers of the intellect is to choose a word without apparent meaning--"Krim" or "Ayin," for example. The word itself becomes a symbol of That which is beyond comprehension. It enables one to go beyond boundaries of the finite intellect to relate to That which is infinite. A good example is "Aum" pronounced "Aah--ooo--mmm." The first letter represents the waking state, the second the dream state, the third deep sleep, with their wide, then narrow, then closed, sounds.
Japa is a mantram specifically restricted in meaning to a name of God. Like all mantrams, it is constantly repeated. It is not only one way of prayerful remembrance of God but also a simple easy method of overcoming the mind's tendency to wander about and to bring it into concentration. It can also be assisted by harmonizing its syllables with the incoming and outgoing breaths.
The difference between practice of Japa and practice of mantra is that the former uses only sacred words or names but the latter may use non-sacred, secular, or even meaningless words.
The repeated invocation of a sacred name, with trust in its saving power, eventually keeps away all other thoughts and thus focuses the mind in a kind of constant meditation. In the earlier stages it is the man himself who labours at this repetition, but in the advanced stages it is the Overself's grace which actuates it--his own part being quite passive and mechanical.
A mantra is a short dynamic saying to be repeated to oneself incessantly. The monotony of this procedure does not, as might be expected, produce a boring effect but rather a lulling one which is pleasant.
It uses one thought in order to transcend all thoughts, a single vibration of the mind in order to attain a stillness never ordinarily known by the mind.
By repeating the same words in the same rhythm frequently during the day, the week, and the year, the mind's resistance to the idea enshrined in those words is slowly worn down. A time comes when not only do the words repeat themselves without conscious effort, but also their meaning impresses itself deeply.
This repetition-method may seem somewhat primitive and crude to the sophisticated or educated modern mind, and quite needlessly redundant. But it is based on sound psychological practice. It is an appeal to the subconscious, not to the logical mind. Its kindred is the lullaby which a mother sings and with which she soothes her child to sleep.
You may devise your own formula, affirmation, or a traditional mantram, if you wish, but the use of one specially prepared by a Master possesses tested merit.
A fit subject for the mantra yoga meditation exercise is the series of words descriptive of the Overself's attributes. One word could be taken each day.
The idea is that this rhythmic incantation will open an avenue of communion with the Overself.
A further value of mantram yoga is that it keeps the practiser from thinking about himself. The two things--a specific mantram and a personal matter--cannot coexist in his consciousness.
Indian and Tibetan yogis particularly value and use the Om mantram because they are taught, and believe, that its sound was the first one in the world creation and that its repetition will bring the mind back to the stillness which existed before that creation.
The yogic claim is that this om-om-om-om sound is cosmic; it is the keynote of the spinning globes in space; it is the humming vibration of all the worlds.
Vivekananda: "We can now understand what is meant by repetition. It is the greatest stimulus that can be given to the spiritual samskaras [tendencies]. One moment of company with the holy builds a ship to cross this ocean of life--such is the power of association. So this repetition of Om and thinking of its meaning are the same as keeping good company in your own mind. Study and then meditate on what you have studied. Thus light will come to you; the Self will become manifest. But one must think of Om and its meaning too."
The first revelation of the divine world is sound. Before beholding it, one hears it with an inner ear. The name of God has not only the power of easily washing away all sin, but can even untie the knot of the heart and waken love of God. To be severed from God is the only real sin.
A mantram becomes most worthwhile when it is heard deep deep down in the practiser's being. It will then produce the effect of profound inner absorption.
When one whose Atman is completely wakened sings the name of God, this has the power of waking a sleeping soul. What happens then is called initiation. By listening devotedly, while another sings the name, and by singing it oneself, one's heart is led back to its real nature, which is love.
OM means "I am part of (or one with) the World-Soul."
Part of his endeavour should be to set up a rhythmic relation between the mantram and his inner being. If he faithfully attends to its practice, the time will come when it will voice itself within him at regular times, such as after waking from sleep and before entering into it.
AUM is chanted on a very low note and extended on a single indrawn breath.
The mantra "Shantam Param Sukham" means "Serenity is the highest happiness."
Do not keep all your attention fixed on the changing scene around you. Hold some of it back for the Word which, in your consciousness, stands for the Supreme Power.
To chant mantrams or to affirm declarations, without looking to the kind of life he lives, is not enough.
They are known in Tibet as dharanis, literally "mystical sentences," and in India as mantrams, literally "sacred syllables" or "sacred chants."
Those mantrams like Hrim, Klim, and so forth, which have no significance at all may still be meditated on until the meditator realizes through them that the entire world-appearance is itself without significance because of the Voidness which is its reality.
The earthly sound of the name of God is only a vessel for the shadow of the Spiritual Sound. Even this shadow helps to lead the heart to God.
The continual practice of the mantram leads in time to the awakening of his spiritual forces. They rise up spontaneously from their deeply hidden source within him and begin to saturate his mind and overwhelm his ego.
Both poet Tennyson and medico Crichton-Browne passed into the state of illumination by the same method--silently repeating their own name to themselves.
All mantrams constituted by meaningless or mystical words are intended to create a mental vacuum.
The word Om is not the only one whose sound is used by Orientals to quieten the mind in meditation and therefore claimed as a holy word. The Chinese have used Ch'an, the Japanese Zen, the Hindus Soami, the Arabs Sufi for the same purpose.
The effect of this constant dwelling on the mantram is to come to rest within the mood of mind or the state of heart which it symbolizes.
If a sage be one who exists constantly in the awareness of the Overself, then mantram can be a Short-Path technique to emulate his awareness. By putting the cart before the horse and aiming at imitating the sage's awareness, we can come closer to his state of being.
The vocal chanting of a mantram belongs to the elementary practice of it. In the more advanced practice, nothing is spoken aloud and the mantram is simply held in the mind--constantly repeating itself as a thought but a thought to which we kind of listen and from which we seem to stand apart so that it has its own inner vitality. This makes a great difference from the spoken practice, because the latter keeps the mantram fixed whereas the former leaves it flexible.
In the mantram "Om Mani Padme Hum," inhale after the first word.
"Hum" in the famous Tibetan mantram stands for the heart, whereas the first word "OM" stands for the inner reality, the unseen power behind all things.
Gandhi often prescribed the continuous recitation of God's name. But he always emphasized that it had to be more than mere lip movement; it had to absorb the practitioner's entire being throughout the period of exercise and even throughout life. While repeating the word "God," he had to concentrate intensely on godliness.
When the incantatory words of a mantra by constant practice become fully activated, the mantra becomes fully automatic and circles round and round inside the head or the heart just like a revolving wheel. At this deep stage, he is not concerned with its translated or verbal meaning but only with the kind of consciousness it produces. For now it is not a matter of what he is doing but of what is being done to him. The mantra has brought him into a region of released forces which are very active in him.
The mantram must be clearly pronounced. Its meaning must be devotedly, even reverently, felt.
In Sanskrit magic and mysticism, not only are complete words and phrases and even sentences used as mantrams, but also certain single letters and syllables are used. Such a mantram is called a seed, and it can be used either in written form on paper or in pronunciation as a sound. The letters also stand as symbols representing certain angelic or other higher beings who are invoked.
Mantram=Al-lah (Al on inbreath, lah on outbreath)
These mantrams are brought into rhythmic harmony with the breathing of the lungs or the beating of the heart or the chanting of the phrase.
Repeatedly sounding the vowel "O" stimulates the bony part of the voice box in the throat and mentally assists attention to concentrate. The mantram Om, so well known, is a useful ending to all other mantrams. On the expiring breath, very slowly lengthened out, it leaves an effect which assists the fulfilment of the meditation--that is, a calming one.
The master of the mantram becomes a symbol of help, to which the believers can turn in thought at any time or at the special time set aside for it.
Mantramic denials and affirmations should be formulated in as impersonal a wording as possible. This keeps the reference to a higher power and away from the ego, with its slender resources.
It is good practice to use the mantram on the intake of breath, when doing rhythmic breathing. Deep breathing for use in rhythmic breathing should be with lateral expansion of chest.
A story is told of Jowett, a thinker and a man of God, the famous and brilliant Oxford University translator of Plato's Greek, that even during conversations with others he would, while keeping silent and listening to them, move his lips continuously in prayer. He was practising a Christian form of mantram.
It has done its duty and served its purpose if the invocation or affirmation ceases of itself and in the ensuing silence a mysterious power rises and takes possession of him.
Mantra in Sanskrit means hymn, prayer, invocation, formula for magic, secret, charm, lines of prayer to a divinity. It is something that creates loving devotion to God. The mantra uttered and the divinity called upon are identical. Hence the reverence for it and the importance of its being correctly spoken, and the danger of its being misused for selfish purpose. It should not be spoken, but sung.
A mantram depends for its effect not only upon repetition (which brings about concentrated attention) but also on its sound (which brings about a subtler mental contact). The latter may be lower psychic or higher spiritual, according to the word used. This is important to remember for though any one of these effects justifies calling the word or phrase a mantram, both in combination provide it with the fullest power and the complete function.
A Moroccan mantric dervish dance: A couple of hundred men--young and old--were arranged in a large circle. When the leader, who was squatting in the centre, gave a signal, they all leapt up and yelled, "Allah!" together, swaying from side to side, stamping their feet, and repeating the name of their God dozens of times until they became delirious with joy and absorbed into a half-trancelike state.
Nicephoros the Solitary wrote: "We know from experience that if you keep on praying in this manner, that if you practise the `Prayer of Jesus' with attention, the whole host of virtues will come to you: love, joy, and peace."
Because the muttering of these ejaculations and the chanting of these incantations have been perverted into use as part of the techniques of professional witch-doctors and primitive medicine-men, is no reason why their proper use for higher purposes may not be achieved.
The Arabic word for God--Allah--or the Aramaic (Jesus' spoken language) word--Alaha--form excellent mantric material.
The endless repetition of the same word is a most important feature of the practice, for when it has passed through the mind a thousand times in less than a day, and this for several days, in the end it becomes fixed as a part of the background of all his consciousness.
Whether he uses the Hindu one-syllabled Om for such repetition or the Muhammedan two-syllabled Allah for the same purpose, the results will be the same.
Muhammed: "There is no act which removes the punishment of Allah farther from you than the invocation of Allah's name."
The mantram is a means of awakening the power of concentration. But all mantrams differ from one another and thus introduce a secondary effect or influence. The meditation is the primary work, the concentration being intended to develop power for it: the form of the mantram is shaped by its object--communion with God, cultivation of a virtue, and so on.
A time comes when there is no need to try to practise the exercise, for the mantram wells up of its own accord. It then repeats itself automatically and silently in his mind alone. Over and over again, like the chorus of a song, it comes to the front or remains at the back of attention.
Bhagat Singh Thind: "Negation has to be nullified, you can not take sin into God, but you can take God into sin, and short work He will make of it, if you do. If you are in the habit of doing something that you know is foolish, and you can not shake it off, take a Christ into it, hold His Name of Truth in the very heart of it, dare to say the Word of Life, even when you are doing the foolish thing. For that is the very time when you most need it, that is the moment when you can test its power. Only stick to it, repeating it with your whole heart and mind, hold fast to the Name of your Divine Self doggedly through anything and everything, letting no old feeling of condemnation sweep it out of your mind, but hang on to it by your eyelids, if you are drowned up to that, and you will find Truth will set you free."
To some extent, its use has a purifying effect on the subconscious character.
The chosen phrase or selected word should be dwelt upon again and again until it is firmly implanted in the ever-receptive subconscious mind.
The Asiatic mystics aptly name them "words of power." They believe that, if intoned correctly, they help to keep away the baser influences and to stimulate the finer ones. The effect is temporary, of course, but by constant repetition it may become permanent.
Mantram practice was given to Indians to help stop thought from wandering, just as Koan practice was given to Japanese to help stop thought from dominating. The Koan method crippled or even paralysed the intellect; but this was only in its approach to the spiritual goal, not in its worldly business.
Those who are unwilling to engage themselves in the metaphysical studies and mystical practices may avail themselves of the devotional attitudes and daily reverential worship of religion, or repeat constantly the affirmations and declarations of mantra yoga.
A single word like "God" or a simple phrase like "God in me" must be spoken with the lips without intermission, or repeated in the mind with intensive concentration.
The murmuring of such a phrase over and over again is a useful device to concentrate the mental waves and to turn them into a spiritual direction.
Gandhi: "Persevere and ceaselessly repeat Ramanama during all your waking hours. Ultimately it will remain with you even during your sleep."
It is the common practice in all the Bengali districts of India as well as in parts of the Mahratta districts for large groups of people, as well as solitary individuals, to engage in the protracted chanting of God's name or some phrase incorporating it. The mental level on which it is done is like that of hymn singing in the West.
The Master Tao-Ch'o: "Say, without interruption and without any other thought, the Buddha's name, and you will enter the presence of Buddha."
A mantra is best and most commonly muttered, but beginners sing it aloud, while the advanced repeat it mentally and automatically.
It is like a refrain that keeps on singing in the heart.
The repetitious rhythm of a mantram can, with assiduous practice, become almost hallucinating.
He may mutter the mantram to himself, moving his lips in an almost unhearable whisper.
He must harness himself to the main thought again and again. He must resolutely keep the mantram a chained captive.
The mantra is mentally or vocally chanted so many times that the mind is brain-washed: it can resist no longer and from then on the phrase keeps revolving by itself over and over again in consciousness.
It is claimed that ordinary methods involve conscious deliberate thinking but the mantra method of meditation does not. It by-passes them all and directly reaches thought-free stillness.
Only experience and use can show its worth in rhythmically directing awareness to a certain fixed point, and keeping it there. The word, phrase, name, invocation, sentence, or image provides him with a certain power of concentration.
The words of the invocation stabilize attention and steady emotion. They hold the mind in desired states.
He uses the mantric repetition to work himself into the state of rapt concentration and then to feel his way into the inner self's presence.
It is useful to follow out the mantram system of meditation when the ordinary systems, involving set exercises and formal periods, have been tried and found profitless.
Bhagat Singh Thind: "The constant utterance of Holy Name without the agency of lips by Spirit-current develops concentration. The Holy Name that is taught has resemblance to the Sound or current emanating from the nerve centre where the practice is to be performed. This nerve centre is the focus of the Deity. Your constant repetition will one day result in creating harmony with the vibrations inside and bring you into a condition of concord with the Deity therein. You will then be able to participate in the essence of Him, and that will prepare you for further progress."
However, prayer must be mastered first. This, in its purest form, is complete stillness of speech, thought, and body. One thought alone must repeat itself again and again, such as, "God is within me," and it will drive away all other thoughts. Incidentally, this is Mantrayoga.
No teacher is needed for Mantrayoga because you have to do it yourself. Nor is there any danger. After the 20-45 minutes' distraction, meditation may then come in a moment.
Bhagat Singh Thind, Sikh Teacher: "With the eyes of Mind the disciple sees the image of the guru, with the ears he listens to the Holy Names within, and with the speech of the mind inaudibly he repeats rhythmically the Holy Mantrams given to him by the guru. By this constant daily practice he moves to an ingathering of his whole being towards integration and unity."
The time may come through practice and effort when he will be able to meet a period of trouble or anxiety more calmly by humming slowly and repeatedly the familiar formula.
Mantram=Holy Word, the Mystical. Affirmation=Sacred Invocation
He who suffers from incessant mental activity could harness it and turn it to profit by Mantrayoga, which solves the problem: "How to transfer attention from foreground to background of mind and yet attend to work?"
The venerable heavily bearded Father Joseph, of Mount Athos, a teacher of other monks, claims that the "Prayer of Jesus" becomes with time an unstopping activity, productive of enlightening revelation, and purifying from passions. His own disciples spend several hours every day on the mental repetition of this short prayer.
The constant recital of the mantram is a simple effective exercise but it cannot, by itself, win the highest goal.
There are many ways of meditation, and the practice of mantram is one of them--indeed, almost the most elementary one of them. Yet it is useful on its level. But one should not remain forever on that elementary level. You may go on repeating the word, the phrase, but a time will come when it will lose its power to help you, when its effects will vanish and its very practice will become boring. Use it as a step not as a stop.
Many of the people using this method are as likely to achieve spiritual illumination by their babbling of mantrams as a donkey is by his braying of noises.
What Indians call mantra is what New Thought calls affirmations.
When all other methods of meditation prove fruitless or too hard, let him try the simplest of all methods--the Spiritual Declaration--and bring words to his help. They may be reduced to a single one--the name of his spiritual leader, or of a moral quality towards which he aspires, or of an inner state which he seeks to achieve. Of the first kind, a specimen is the name "Jesus"; of the second, "Love"; of the third, "Peace." Or a few words may be combined into the phrasing of any helpful statement, metaphysical/mystical affirmation, or devotional prayer.
The Declaration is a word, statement, or verse, affirmation or invocation, which is committed to memory and then often repeated. The purpose is twofold: first, to achieve a state of concentration; second, to direct the concentrative mind upon the idea to be expressed, so constantly or continuously that the idea begins to influence him deeply and almost hypnotically.
Affirmations are of two kinds: those for use in meditation and those for constant repetition aloud, whispered, or silently.
These divide themselves naturally into two main groups: those belonging to the Long Path and those to the Short Path. Of the first kind, there is Cove's famous suggestion: "Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better." Of the second kind there is Jesus' figurative statement: "I and my Father are one."
(a) Both affirmations and denials have their place and usefulness. Philosophy, being integral, rejects neither. The first would seem illusory if they affirm what is true only on a higher level of being while the person himself is unable to rise above the lower one, as in the statement, "I am divine." But still, their concentrative and suggestive power may, given enough time, eventually help him to do so. The second would seem nonsensical at worst in dismissing what stubbornly remains all the time, or narcotic at best in lulling it into brief quietude, yet the Buddha did not hesitate to recommend denials to his disciples: "This is not mine; this am I not," was one formula which he gave them. For even the theoretical separation thus brought about between the man and the weakness or fault denied has some constructive value and is the beginning of a mental-emotional-physical series whose intuition-guided total effort leads to a successful result.
(b) The Declaration habitually repeated and faithfully applied continually renews the Ideal for him.
(c) It is a practice useful for filling unoccupied moments.
The affirmation is to be firmly held and unwaveringly trusted. He is not to consider it as a statement of a far-off ideal but of a present actuality. He is to identify himself with it with all his being.
The affirmation can even be reduced to a single word. This makes it easier to use, and concentrated in effect. Such simplicity is more akin to the Overself than to the intellect; therefore this type of affirmation should not be dwelt on analytically, not examined and probed with a logical scalpel, but merely held closely, repeated slowly and frequently until the mind is saturated with it. It may be used both inside and outside the special meditation periods. In the latter case, it is defensive against attack from lower thoughts.
There is one human activity which is continuous, rhythmic, natural, easy, and pleasant. It is breathing. We may take advantage of its existence by combining it with a simple exercise to bring about a kind of meditation which will possess all these four mentioned attributes. The exercise is merely to repeat one word silently on the inhalation and another word on the exhalation. The two words must be such that they join together to make a suitable spiritual phrase or name. Here is one useful example: "God Is."
"I am poised in the Consciousness of Truth." Repeat it audibly, then carry it into the Silence.
The Buddha taught his monks to enter daily into the following meditation: "As a mother even at the risk of her own life protects her only son, so let a man cultivate goodwill without measure among all beings. Let him suffuse the whole world with thoughts of love, unmixed with any sense of difference or opposed interests."
The thought thus self-given will become transformed into an act.
The declaration should be audibly repeated if he is alone, silently if not, or audibly a few times followed by silently for some minutes.
At a fixed time each day repeat the declaration for five or ten minutes.
The effectiveness of a Declaration depends also upon its being repeated with a whole mind and an undivided heart, with confidence in its power, and sincere desire to rise up.
1."I am becoming as free from undesirable traits in my everyday self as I already am in the Overself."
2."In my real being I am strong, happy, and serene."
3."I am the master of thought, feeling, and body."
4."Infinite Power, sustain me! Infinite Wisdom, enlighten me. Infinite Love, ennoble me."
5."My Words are truthful and powerful expressions."
6."I see myself moving toward the mastery of self."
7."May I co-operate more and more with the Overself. May I do its will intelligently and obediently."
8."I co-operate joyously with the higher purpose of my life."
9."O! Infinite strength within me."
10."O! Indwelling Light, guide me to the wise solution of my problem."
11."I am Infinite Peace!"
12."I am one with the undying Overself."
13."Every part of my body is in perfect health; every organ of it in perfect function."
14."In my real self life is eternal, wisdom is infinite, beauty is imperishable, and power is inexhaustible. My form alone is human for my essence is divine."
15."I am a centre of life in the Divine Life, of intelligence in the Divine Intelligence."
16."In every situation I keep calm and seek out the Intuitive that it may lead me."
17."I look beyond the troubles of the moment into the eternal repose of the Overself."
18."My strength is in obedience to the Overself."
19."O Infinite and impersonal Bliss!"
20."I am happy in the Overself's blissful calm."
21."God is ever smiling on Me."
22."God is smiling on me."
23."The Peace of God."
24."I dwell in the Overself's calm."
25."I smile with the Overself's bliss."
26."I dwell in Infinite peace."
27."I am a radiant and revivified being. I express in the world what I feel in my being."
What is newer than a new dawning day? What a chance it offers for the renewing of life too! And how better to do this than to take a positive affirmative Declaration like, "I Am Infinite Peace!" as the first morning thought, and to hold it, and hold on to it, for those first few minutes which set the day's keynote? Then, whatever matters there will be to attend, or pressing weighty duties to be fulfilled, we shall carry our peace into the midst of them.
A friend told me some years ago of an interesting and useful method of using these Declarations which had been taught her by a celebrated holy man and mystic in her country, when he gave her the "Prayer of Jesus." This is a Declaration which was widely used several hundred years ago in the old Byzantine monasteries and even now is used to a lesser extent in Balkan and Slavonic monastic circles in exactly the same way as in India. The method is to reduce the number of words used until it is brought down to a single one. This reduction is achieved, of course, quite slowly and during a period covering several months. In this particular instance, there are seven words in the Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." They are all used for the first few weeks, then the word "Christ" is omitted for the next few weeks. The phrase is again shortened by detaching from it, after a further period has elapsed, the word "Lord." Then "have" is taken out and so on until only one word is left. The Declaration as finally and permanently used is "Jesus-Jesus-Jesus-Jesus." This method can be applied to almost any Declaration. The selected last word should be a name, if addressed to God or to a Spiritual Leader, or, if that is not part of it, a desired quality.
The use of short statements, often strangely worded, made by a master to a disciple as a means of getting the flash of enlightenment flourished in China during the Tang dynasty. It was taken up later by the Japanese, among whom the method's original name "kong-an" changed slightly to "ko-an." Despite extravagant claims made for it, the successful practiser got a glimpse only, not a permanent and full result. It is not the same as, and not to be confused with, the method of meditating upon affirmations, pithy condensed truth-statements (called Mahavakyas in India) since these openly possess a meaning whereas koans are often illogical and always puzzling.
Philosophy uses these declarations guardedly and does not approve of such potentially dangerous ones as "I am God!" or "I am one with God." Instead, it uses the more guarded ones like "I am in God" or "God is in me," and these only after a preparation has elapsed with self-humbling phrases like "I am nothing" and "Take my ego, swallow it up, O Thou Divinity." Otherwise the truth is half-understood and misused, while the relation between the Overself and its shadow-self becomes a source of mischievous illusion and intellectual confusion.
It is better to choose a declaration which pertains to his immediate need than one which does not.
Any declaration brings before the mind some specific truth which it wants to realize, but the greatest one, and the most powerful and creative one, is that which affirms the divinity of its innermost nature, the presence of God inside its own being.
An affirmation which proclaims a spiritual reality, may seem to be contradicted by outer facts.
Deep within him there is an opening out to the infinite being. How this opening is actually effected, no one really knows. One moment he is here, the next moment he is there. It is then that these spiritual declarations become perfectly true, completely in accord with fact.
He must deliberately eject each negative thought as it arises. The easier way to do this is immediately to replace it by a "Spiritual Declaration" of an affirmative nature. This is quicker than and not so hard as trying to use willpower alone to get rid of the negative thought.
The best of all declarations is the one which represents either the Supreme Power or else the human leader who most inspires us to think of that Power. We cannot go higher in thought or come closer in awareness. Whatever name we habitually give to this Unique Power, be it Truth or Reality, Allah or Jehovah, that is the word to use as our Declaration--unless the leader's name helps us more.
If he habitually suffers from a certain mood, or if he may be the victim of it at the moment, it will be useful to choose a Declaration which affirms the opposite mood. In despondency, for example, he may find cheering and upholding sentences for repetition in one of the Psalms.
The symbol or declaration must be one to which he can completely give himself, if all its effectiveness is to be realized.
It is useless to say to yourself what you cannot bring your mind to believe, to affirm in your meditation what your heart cannot possibly accept. Do not try to violate laws that you trust by beliefs that are contrary to them. Instead of profitable results, you will generate inner conflicts. If your affirmation is not in harmony with the order of the universe, with the possibilities and principles of human existence, you will not succeed in its use.
If any declaration seems unnatural and artificial and impossible in relation to oneself, it ought to be abandoned until it has been passed through a prolonged thinking-out process.
If no attempt is made to gain understanding of, as well as give feeling to, these utterances, repeating a declaration may become artificial and making an affirmation may become mechanical.
He should close his eyes, repeat the phrase slowly several times, and try to penetrate ever deeper into its meaning with each repetition.
The practice of these Declarations is a device to recall to the memory of the man his perfect and ideal state which he not only has to retain but which in his Overself he already is. This is a means of recalling him from the periphery of life to his centre.
Each stirring of the old weaknesses must be treated as a command to new efforts. But these shall be toward recollection of, and identification with, the Overself--not necessarily toward direct struggle with them. In these efforts, let him reiterate a spiritual declaration--holding to the thought behind it with the deepest intensity. The silent word must become this spiritual warrior's sword.
He does not need to practise the declarations in a conspicuous manner, or draw the attention of others to what he is doing. Instead, working quietly, he can and should let it remain a secret between the Overself and himself.
A single word naming some divine attribute or human ideal is another good focus for a concentration exercise. It should be slowly but silently repeated to oneself at certain intervals whilst its significance should be held all the time in the mind. Every other idea should be kept out. Words which are suitable to perform this office may be safely left to the aspirant's taste and mood of the moment. Here are instances: reality, truth, love, being, illusion, goodness, pity, purity, and peace.
In this exercise, he repeats mentally and slowly over and over again a significant key word like "Reality" or a pithy formula like "In my higher being, I am beyond weakness and sin."
Incessant repetition of a brief mystic formula, a short holy phrase, will keep out all other thoughts and ultimately even lapse itself. The mind will then fall into stillness, the heart be inundated with quiet.
Before attending any interview or group meeting, as well as during the attendance itself, if a clash of wills is to be expected or some trouble is to be feared or some favour is to be requested, silently practise mantric affirmations such as: "All Good is with me," or "The Infinite Power is my perfect supply," or "Perfect Harmony is in me."
The way to use these affirmations differs from one to the other, according to its nature and purpose. For example, an affirmation of calmness and peace needs a different approach mentally, emotionally, and even physically from one of power and strength.
The general rule for using these affirmations is first to sit comfortably and relax the body in every way. Then slowly repeat the selected words for a few minutes. Lay hold intensely on their meaning. The practice may be done again in the evening with another or with the same affirmation.
Of all affirmations, the student who has evolved to the higher stages of development will select those that concern the impersonal rather than the personal self. These are the ultimate truths, the conclusive formulae of philosophy such as: "Mind is the Real," or "The Ego is illusory," where the mind calmly rests on the final position to be attained.
The student who takes one of these sentences from a piece of inspired writing is seeking to reproduce in his own feelings and thoughts the inner condition which gave it birth. As he ponders over the phrase, he should not only seek to distill every bit of meaning from it, but also let his inner being passively receive that meaning by other than logical ways. This wider concentration upon it may gradually open up its content. Nevertheless, if he returns to it a long time later--perhaps after a year or two--he may penetrate abruptly and unexpectedly to a still deeper layer of meaning and with that experience the joy of new revelation.
Select any phrase, sentence, or even single word which makes most appeal to you and pertains to the goal, ideal, or quality you wish to develop. It may be taken from a book (if inspired) or you may construct it yourself. Examples are: I am infinite peace: harmony-harmony-harmony. This Spiritual "Declaration" is to be repeated as often during the entire day as you remember to do so--silently and mentally when out or with others, whispered to yourself when alone and in your own room. This means that there may be dozens of repetitions in one day. It is particularly to be practised when any provocation or temptation arises. After the first few weeks the habit should become automatic, when you may try to make it a silent one at all times.
You may, if you prefer, use as the theme for concentration the name of your Spiritual Leader: "Jesus-Jesus-Jesus," for example. This exercise must be done very slowly, the phrase must be long drawn out, and, in the early stages, the meaning pondered on.
Each affirmation he decides to accept should be used regularly for a period of twenty-one days before changing to another one.
Affirm truth, and let others deny falsehood.
It will double the efficacy of this exercise if it is practised at the same time as and united with the regular cycles of breathing activity. When the two are as one, much greater power enters into the declaration or invocation.
The value of these declarations and affirmations, these ideas held and repeated, is not a total one. The method they use is only a first step and an easy step. It is not a self-sufficient method.
I call it paradoxical thinking as opposed to logical thinking. "I am infinite being" is a declaration which does not fit into the logic of conventional experience.
To think only and completely of this truth at the very moment when the ego's voice or passion's demand is loudest, is a necessary step forward.
In the beginning of each session it will assist the novice to concentrate if he will say the Declaration several times with his lips.
When this delicate intuitive feeling is verbalized into an intellectual statement in the form of a Spiritual Declaration, the latter may help to awaken an echoing feeling in the heart of one who uses it.
The words should be descriptive of some attribute of the Overself or some quality of its nature. They should also separate the aspirant from his lower tendencies or ego and identify him with the Overself.
The practical technical use of Declarations belongs only to the elementary or intermediate stages of the path. When their purpose of reminding man of his true self is fulfilled by every event, every happening, every situation in a man's life, then he is said to have reached the advanced stage of mantra-yoga. At this stage, there is nothing too trivial to act as a reminder of the higher helpfulness to which the Quest leads. Everything can then be accepted as presented symbolically to the traveller.
The declaration is also used in India to purify a place, to uplift the mind, to invite Grace, and to abate sickness.
He is to remind himself constantly of the greater truths, whether he is at home in his room or abroad in the public places. "Be still and know that I am infinite power" is one such truth. "Be still and know that I am infinite joy" is another.
These truths are not mere metaphysical statements that raise the dust of argument, but spiritual signposts which guide man into the true way of life.
It is useful to prepare and keep a list of these silent declarations and select a different one for use during a particular period, whether it be a single day or a whole week. It can be chosen to fit the particular needs of that period, and the experiences which are expected or developed then.
An affirmation should be some easily seized, easily held phrase. It is to be said over and over again. It is essential that the fullest faith should be given to it by the person using it.
"I will try to show forth in my personal life, thought, and feeling the perfect harmony which already belongs to the impersonal Overself within me."
Let the mind dwell constantly on these great truths. Let the hand write them down and carry the record for study at odd moments.
A Declaration has creative power only if the mind is firmly fixed on its meaning as it is repeated.
"The divine Self in me manifests itself in contentment and strength."
The declaration is a simple device for achieving three different objectives at one and the same time. It facilitates the continuous remembrance of the Overself. It holds the ideal and parades the objectives of self-improvement ever before us. It inspires us as a form of concentration, first by keeping us in touch with the Overself and then by getting us ultimately absorbed in awareness of it.
The practice keeps away other thoughts if they are of a baser kind, yet it does not keep away those which are necessary to carry on the ordinary affairs of everyday living. The declaration stays in the deep places of the mind like a little island of immovable rock, while the agitated waves of personal activities swirl around it.
Let the affirmation rise into central consciousness every moment that the mind is free to attend to it.
What affirmation shall he use? He should analyse his character impartially and carefully and let his decision rest on the revelation of positive and negative qualities this analysis affords him.
They may also be the opposite of affirmations; that is, they may be denials. An example is: "I will no longer express negatives."
These declarations can be formulated in the first person--"I am eternal"--or without reference to any person at all--"God is infinite being."
Let him create his own declarations or denials, to suit his special needs and individual aspirations.
By affirming a particular virtue, he automatically repudiates its opposing evil quality.
These affirmations are taut, compact statements of truths.
An affirmation takes a general thought, idea, ideal, and turns it into a precise one. This helps those who cannot find their way among abstractions.
Here are some of the more metaphysical declarations for meditational use: (a) "You are me and I am you"; (b) "I Who Am"; (c) "What I have been, I shall be"; (d) "He Who Is."
The kind of thinking which makes up the content of your mind, influences always, and creates sometimes, the kind of fortune which makes up the course of your life.
Some of these declarations are phrased as auto-suggestions, phrased so as to have evocative or creative value.
Suggestion from others and expectancy from himself--if strong enough--help to shape inner experiences, but his own work is essential.
How many unacknowledged suggestions do they carry about with them, as part of their own nature now although first put into their heads long ago by others?
Once he perceives this truth, he goes his own way and does not allow others to make him a victim of suggestion.
The reaction of his environment to his dominant thought is as certain as the operation of a law in Nature.
To the degree that a man practises constructive thinking and harmonious feeling, to that degree will he help to draw progressive events and helpful chances to himself.
Those who are sceptical of the higher origin of this phenomenon, who assert it to be the work of auto-suggestion, that it is of a mind able to impress its own imaginings upon itself to such an extent that it mistakes them for realities, are themselves guilty of auto-suggestion, for they have impressed their sceptical theories to such an extent upon their own minds that there is no reason for anything else than these complexes.
If the dominant trends of his thought are bad, evil, or negative, let him counteract them by repeatedly, persistently, and intensely dwelling on their opposites.
In the early stage, when concentration is needed, he will succeed best by giving his attention strong, forcible commands, by directing his mind toward the chosen topic with positive phrases.
The Chinese name for these muttered or chanted incantations is very apt: "True Words."
As soon as the light is put out and you prepare to sleep, give a command to the deeper mind to work on the problem you present it with. You may state the problem aloud. Then, when you wake up in the morning, look for the solution before you do anything else.
Put into the affirmation all the intensity and all the fervour at your command.
The call to "pray without ceasing" which Paul made, the recommendation to "think of Buddha" which the Lamas give, and the remembrances of the name of Allah which Muhammedan Sufis practise, are declarations.
Joyousness is enjoined in Hindu Upanishadic texts. It is to be practised through self-suggestions (Svabhutivakyas).
The seeker will profit during his hours of distress or difficulty, whether inward or outward, by pronouncing a mantric affirmation and then making his prayer of petition in a general way. A particular thing should not be included in the prayer. For example, in the case of an environmental want, the affirmation could be: "Within me there is all I need." This kind of petition is a far higher form of prayer and a far more successful one than the common begging for a specific relief or object or change.
With every interval of time that he is able to get, however short it be--even a few seconds--he repeats a majestic word like "Peace," or an evocative sentence like "Cast thy burden on my back and I shall give you peace."
The affirmation is used in three different ways. It is chanted aloud, muttered or whispered, silently and mentally repeated.
When an affirmation is used only in and for meditation exercises, it should be mentally pronounced as firmly and as positively and as confidently as possible. It should also be repeated several times. Do not ponder over its meaning but rather be content with letting each word sink into the subconscious mind.
The instant vigorous and continued practice of a declaration may change the state of mind in a few minutes from a negative one that is agitated or depressed to a positive one that is reposed or cheerful.
There is another special value of the declaration, and that is found during the strains and struggles of living. If established previously by habit, it will be present and available, ready to use at any moment of need or crisis.
The power of the declaration rises to its greatest degree when used in magical rites, when it is solemnly chanted by a suitably attired priest or wizard.
The whole of his consciousness is to be withdrawn into the declaration and to remain within it, if he is sitting in solitude at formal regular meditation at the special time, but only a part of it if he is otherwise engaged.
These short, specific statements, used persistently as auto-suggestions, are useful to all.
He is to live with the name and qualities of his ideal ever before him, for the purpose of drawing inspiration from it. He is to repeat, silently or vocally, at every moment when there is a break in whatever he happens to be doing, and even as often as he can during the act itself, a spiritual declaration. Suitable phrases or sentences can be found in hymns, bibles, proverbs, and poems, and in the great inspired writings of ancient and modern times.
The declaration may be intoned loud enough to be heard clearly by himself but by others only as a murmur. This is intended to induce a concentrated state.
The yogi who spends years mechanically mumbling the affirmation imparted to him by his teacher will not get so far as the Western aspirant who selects his own declaration and conscientiously, intelligently, works with it.
There is one condition: the declaration must not be longer than a single sentence, and even that ought to be confined to less than ten words.
The Spiritual Declaration is to become his magic talisman, to be used in provocative situations, irritating environments, or unpleasant contacts with unliked persons.
He should make these affirmations firmly, intensely, and confidently.
These precious words ought to be printed in capital letters and doubly underlined. For, in a world of polite lies and prejudiced stupidities, they are the TRUTH.
The more he can put his loving attention into the declaration or behind the auto-suggestion, the more are his chances of being helped by the Overself's Grace.
A Spanish friend, who put into his mysticism all the ardours of his people, called this practice "inner work." The monks of Mount Athos, who use hundreds of times a day the same declaration which the Rumanian mystics used, call it "work."
In this loving remembrance, this turning of the mind through devotion to its parental source, the Quest finds one of its most effective techniques.
Sufi Declaration: "I am the Truth!"
Equipped with this knowledge and these exercises, the aspirant will be able to use well those idle minutes which would otherwise be wasted.
Simone Weil tells how the highly concentrated recitation, with all needed tender feeling, of a devotional-metaphysical poem by the seventeenth-century Englishman, George Herbert, turned her from an agnostic into a mystic as the Christ-consciousness took possession of her. This result was as unsought as it was unexpected.
The sacred declarations are to be hummed in some cases, chanted in others, or spoken in still others.
These inspired sentences or phrases can also be used as amulets against his own dark moods as stronger hands to hold on to during depressed moments or weak phases.
The practice seems to have a hypnotic effect on the mind and to draw him with a magnetic spell to the idea behind the declaration, as the latter is frequently and solemnly repeated.
It is from these declarations that the idea was derived of magical incantations which were supposed to bring about extraordinary results, for some men were able by their aid to induce a trancelike state which, like the hypnotic state, temporarily released paranormal powers of mind.
Stand in front of a mirror and pronounce the constructive auto-suggestive affirmations with dramatic, intense feeling.
The secret is simplicity itself. It was written down by the Sufi poet Shams Tabriz in eight little words: "Keep God in remembrance till self is forgotten." If he keeps the declaration half-whispered on the tip of his tongue and joyously fondled in his mind, it will serve him well.
An affirmation fixes attention and elevates emotion: this is its primary purpose, but it may also offer wise counsel.
In the finer homes of Japan, the reception room will contain a silk or paper scroll hanging, upon which some master has drawn, in calligraphic characters, a pithy and wise affirmation.
These exercises can usually be practised wherever a man happens to be and, often, whatever he happens to be doing.
The declaration comes up from the subconscious and gets itself uttered and repeated. The process of articulation is a pleasant one, sometimes even an ecstatic one.
By learning to live with the declaration, even if it seemed remote, fantastic, and impossible at first, it will come to evoke a veritable ecstasy of acceptance.
The declarations need to be pondered with faith and held in the mind with persistence if their effectiveness is to be demonstrated.
The exercise is a powerful counterweight to the restless nature of our thoughts. It forces them to take anchorage in the declaration.
This practice makes it possible for the otherwise restless mind to think of one thought and live in one purpose constantly. In this way it steadies the mind and keeps its attention concentrated.
The practice also has a purifying effect so far as it prevents the rising of wrong thoughts and helps the eradication of those which do appear.
The formula can be selected from an upholding Psalm, like the ninety-first, or from the Book of Prayer.
One of the great Mahavakyas is "Ayam Atma Brahma"--"This Atman is Brahman."
When these declarations are chanted, Orientals find them to help breath control, which in turn helps meditation.
A book which is truly inspired will contain many a sentence that can be used suggestively in meditation. Linger over some of them as long as you can. It is not movement which matters here but depth.
The effect of using affirmations and recollections is to tint his nature with diviner qualities. These work upon and gradually transmute his lower ones.
When he is practised enough, he will find that meditation charges him with an inward glow.
What he meets with outwardly as well as inwardly on this quest should be tested against these affirmations and scrutinized in the light of these truths.
This exercise can be used with success only if there is the utmost attraction to the idea phrased or the fullest love for the Divine Name or spiritual leader mentioned in it. If the feeling is weak, the remembrance will be fitful and unsteady, the practice will only be occasional and hence insufficient. If the feeling is strong, the mind will be able to hold the idea or the name more easily and unbrokenly, for then it is like the feeling which exists between a pair of separated young lovers. They are able to remember each other's name constantly, to hold each other's mental picture quite spontaneously. They do not need to make any deliberate effort at all.
As he perseveres with this practice, the intervals when he forgets to repeat the Declaration get fewer and fewer in number, shorter and shorter in time. Its constant utterance or remembrance then becomes more and more a realizable aspiration.
The moment any activity is at an end, his attention will instantly return to the declaration and continue the inner work with it.
When his last thought at night and first thought in the morning refers to the Overself, he may appraise his progress as excellent.