Mantra: Meditation on Sound & Vibration
Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche
Toronto, March 1971
A mantra [mind-tool] is a verbal device that takes one beyond the verbal, producing higher meditative states. For example, ARAHAM is used to cancel karma – a primary practice in every school. Another mantra is OM SUNYATA JNANA VAJRA SVABHAVAKO HUM – ‘I am the nature of the vajra through understanding the void’.
Meditation on the seed syllable (bija) OM leads to this state of awareness. By the experience of OM I become the void – the knowing, diamond state of consciousness, (‘anatto’ in Pali).
There are basically two kinds of ‘words’ used in mantra: words that have a literal meaning and words that do not. These meaningless words are seed syllables, fundamental sound experiences (OM AH HUM). The words of a mantra can all have a literal meaning (ARAHAM – ‘purity’) or no meaning, or they can be a combination of both types.
In the mantra of Chenrezi, OM MANI PADME HUM, the seed syllables are OM and HUM while MANI PADME means, literally: ‘lotus jewel’. In Christian mystical practice, the words usually all have a literal meaning. There is the prayer/mantra ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’. This is recited by monks on Mount Athos and synchronised with the heart beat.
The words and syllables are variously emphasized. Such a mantra produces transcendental energy-awareness flowing in and out and down through the central channel.. in ways that vary according to individual practice.
There is a weapon mantra (hastra bija) that equates to a certain state of mind. It is the great cleaver of the skull, used to split the consciousness: PHAT! – cutting off thought when there is excessive verbalisation in meditation.
OM HUM PHAT! is used to exorcise evil spirits or negative mind-states. When written, there is a dot under T in PHAT which means that the T is enunciated sharply – a cut off [or stacatto] T.
The Agni (Fire) mantra is RAM! (Sanskrit ‘agni’ relates to the Latin ‘agnes’ (lamb) as in ‘Agnes Dei’, the lamb sacrificed to God. It is a lamb because its fleece is like the Brahmachakra – the Gate Of Purity or Crown Chakra.
OM is the ancient ‘setu’ mantra – a bridge. HUM is the ‘kercha’ or bundling mantra that heaps things together, that binds and unifies. (‘Tara’ also means ‘bridge’).
Meditation uses a device: you. Think it out, perhaps imagine and visualise in preparation for the state called ‘contemplation’, which is beyond mechanistic recitation. OM MANI PADME HUM brings one to the jewelled, clear state. It is uttered all on the outbreath, cascading out. If said out loud it is generally more effective than whispered or repeated only mentally.
The mantra of Orange Tara: GATE, GATE, PARAGATE, PARASAMGATE, BODHI SVAHA! Literally:
‘Without, within, without within – awaken with it!’
In other words, ‘Make the without as within – this is the Awakening..wow!
(SVAHA has the meaning of ‘ave’ (Latin ‘hail’], as in ‘Ave Maria’ – ‘Hail Mary’. Ekagata and total expansion is the Path Moment, gone past and beyond any clinging.
Rab Wilkie -Editor, Ken Long -Scribe. This article was used with permission from the “Crystal Collection” Archive of students encounters with their teacher, Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche.