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Mantra Yoga

"You know, I was reading that 'Snowboarding' book and it mentions Mantra Yoga. So far in class we haven't done any of that. What can you teach us about that?" asked a young man in an introductory meditation class.

"You're right", said the Rama student who was teaching the class, "One of the passages from 'The Handbook for Enlightenment' inside the book does discuss mantras a little bit, but we haven't done any yet. We can try one out today. I'll teach you a Tibetan mantra that is very simple, but very powerful. We'll do the one mentioned in the book."

In the "Snowboarding" book, the young snowboarder reads in a chapter from 'The Handbook for Enlightenment' about Mantra Yoga, how usually a "root guru will provide you with a personal mantra for you to use", but that if you don't have a root guru, "the best general mantra for practice is: OM mani padme hum." (p. 97)

The student continued explaining, "We've already worked in this class with yantras, which are a visual, geometric device for teaching concentration and focus for meditation. A mantra is working with the auditory sense as it is a sound or series of sounds you repeat either out loud or quietly inside.

"The yantras we've worked with are all patched to a particular plane of light. A mantra is usually associated with some phrases that have a strong cosmic vibration. Probably everyone has heard of OM, a Sanskrit sound that is used to help quiet the mind.

"The mantra mentioned in the book is OM mani padme hum. Now, this phrase has a symbolic meaning. For example, if I say the phrase in English 'Big Apple,' what does that mean to you?" asked the student.

The young man replied, "Manhattan. New York."

"Right. You don't think of a big fruit, you picture an urban American city. So that phrase has a symbolic meaning in our culture, ok? So, in the same way, 'OM mani padme hum' has a symbolic meaning to people in Tibet. It literally means 'Jewel Within the Lotus'. In Tibet, just as 'Big Apple' automatically means 'Manhattan' or 'New York' to us, 'Jewel Within the Lotus' would automatically mean 'Enlightenment' to them. But we're not living in Tibet, so I want you to think of this phrase as meaning 'Enlightenment Is Everywhere' or 'Enlightenment Is In All Things'", said the Rama student as the class nodded their understanding.

The Rama student had the class slowly repeat the phrase several times until they all seemed to have the hang of it and then said, "Now, at home, when you're by yourself, you might try saying this out loud. Since we're not an accomplished choral group and we would probably say this at different speeds and different pitch and drive each other crazy, let's just do it silently in class." The class laughed in agreement.

The Rama student continued, "Again, sit up straight, breathing is normal, close your eyes, and let all your thoughts slow down and just focus on this phrase OM mani padme hum and put all your attention on it repeating it inside. There's no rush to the repetition. Take your time."

The class experimented with the mantra and afterward the Rama student explained this particular mantra can be used inwardly even with the eyes open as you are driving a car or walking through a crowded place.

"You know, I live in a poor neighborhood", said one young woman who was a college student living on limited funds, "and as I walk home I try to think a happy thought to push out all the depression of the street scene until I can get into my apartment. Would this be ok to use for something like that?"

"Absolutely. You would be projecting out a strong positive thought which would help prevent any of the difficult energy on the street from coming into you. Since we're all psychic to some extent, if you let your mind just drift, it makes it likely you will just pick up whatever you are walking through. If you are generating a strong positive thought, it helps keep you focused and is sort of a psychic shield in that kind of situation."

"Cool. I'm going to start trying it out", replied the young woman.



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