Tonight we are going to have a simple and fun Satsang! Mantra is sound, a vibration, that somehow helps us cut the stream of discursive thoughts that runs through all of our minds. The term “Mantra” has been translated many different ways. The definition I find most suitable is “Gatekeeper”. Mantra is the gatekeeper to your mind. It guards the gates and keeps out the thoughts
that muddy the water.
Mantra is particularly useful early on the path. Beginners experiencing Mantra for the first time often report that mantra somehow helped them quiet their mind. When my mind is most active and I cannot slow it down, mantra is the medicine.
One thing I sometimes forget to remind students is that visualization is a part of mantra. We think in pictures too. Sometimes images can be flashing through your mind and distracting you as you meditate or recite mantra. You can use any image you like that helps you have peace and stillness. It could be a candle, serene nature scene, the face of a guru or enlightened being with which you connect. Whatever it is it should be peaceful. I like to use the face of a Buddha carving. The image and person bring me great peace. Below is the Buddha carving from my home. This is the image I use. Most times its on just his eyes that I consecrate. Too big a picture has the eyes in my mind searching. This more focused view stops my internal vision from meandering.
The Mantra that we like to use at The Peaceful Minds Center is a Tibetan Mantra called, “The Guru Rinpoche Mantra”. The Peaceful Minds Center is committed to keeping things simple. With that in mind, don’t be concerned about the words and their meanings too much. A Rinpoche is an honorable teacher and “Guru Rinpoche” is a reference to Guru Padmasambhava – an 8th- century Indian Buddhist master. A number of legends have grown around Padmasambhava’s life and deeds, and he is widely venerated as a ‘second Buddha’ across Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Himalayan states of India. The only thing thats truly important is that you come to a silent, peaceful place. Focus on that and don’t get distracted. When the chanting is done, stay in meditation and relax into the silence and stillness that is in the wake of the Mantra.
The Guru Rinpoche Mantra is a beautiful, melodic chant. It can be repeated over and over with your eyes closed or open. When around the Rinpoche’s we seemed to always notice them muttering mantra throughout the day. The gatekeeper was always on watch. This is the simple Mantra we will practice now:
Om Ah Hung
Pema Siddhi Hung
I don’t know what these words mean and have refrained from finding out intentionally. I find not knowing what it means helps me not form a concept out of it. Remember, we are transcending thought.
This is truly my favorite Mantra. The melody is soothing and somehow so peaceful. However, there are many Mantra’s and I encourage you to find one that suits you. It could be this or another. You are your own guru!
The second Mantra i want to share with you is a simple one with which you are likely familiar.
OM is not a word but a sound. Some say the primordial sound from which all sounds emanate. Again, I want to caution you from trying to find some mystical power or deep meaning. It is a sound. A vibration. It is very soothing. Concentrating on this sound can help you clear your mind. You can use an image with this too. Additionally, I have a recording of some monks chanting OM that I am going play rather loudly. You will likely feel the vibrations hitting you and the one’s you are creating yourself melt together. In that moment of resonance there is a soothing, relaxing feeling that comes over you. Somehow you cut the stream of discursive thoughts and come into the present moment. When the chanting is done, again stay in meditation and relax into the silence and stillness that is in the wake of the Mantra.
When the carnival in your mind is going full steam ahead, Mantra can be very effective in slowing things down. In the beginning of creating your meditation practice it’s common that students struggle to be still. Mantra can help you experience states of stillness and then its your job to get comfortable in them. Then, when you sit for silent calm abiding meditation it becomes easier to slip into and get comfortable in the silence and space in which all thoughts occur.
Tom Notarianni Jr.
The Peaceful Minds Center