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A mantra has capacity to transform consciousness

A mantra has capacity to transform consciousness
December 17
13:27 2019

Eknath Easwaran 

I went to my grandmother, my spiritual teacher, and asked her what to do about the anxiety that gripped me whenever I had to stand and speak before an audience. She told me not to dwell on the anxiety, but just to keep repeating in my mind the words Rama, Rama, Rama.

I knew this was a mantram that my granny used. When I was a child, I used to wake up every morning in our spacious ancestral home to the sweet sound of her singing her mantram as she swept the courtyard with her coconut fibre broom. At that time I didn’t give the mantram much thought; it was just something I heard every morning from the lips of someone I loved very deeply.

So I knew that Rama was used as a prayer or mantram, but I wasn’t a particularly devout young man, and my unspoken reaction to my granny’s advice was, “That’s too easy, too simple, too miraculous.” I was skeptical, but such was my love for my grandmother that I tried it anyway. “I hope it works,” I said, and the next time I sat on the platform waiting my turn to speak, I kept repeating the mantram in my mind.

It seemed to help. After that, whenever I was called upon to debate, I would silently repeat the mantram beforehand, and after a while I said, “I think it works.” I would still get a few butterflies in my stomach, but I no longer suffered from a pounding heart and irregular breathing. Then I began to use it on any occasion that I found stressful.

Today, after many years of using the mantram, I can say, on the strength of my own personal experience, “I know it works.” Thanks to the wisdom of my grandmother, I enjoyed debating throughout my college career, which was crowned by the day our team won the intercollegiate debating championship.

Many years ago, after I took to meditation, I started treasuring every moment that I could repeat the mantram. I did not undertake these practices out of frustration: by Indian standards, I was successful and had everything that was thought to be desirable in life. But just at this hour of fulfillment, all these things no longer satisfied me. The ground shifted under my feet, and I turned inward. It was then that I began to repeat the mantram in earnest, using it everywhere during the day and at night.

Two minutes here while on my way to class, two there while waiting at the bank, two minutes there waiting for the bus, five minutes there waiting in a restaurant – I don’t think I wasted many opportunities. All of this did not come naturally to me. I was not noted for devotion in my early life. I had come from a very deeply religious family, but I was more interested in the modern world and came under the influence of Western culture very early in life.

Yet it was my enormous good fortune, when I began to face the storms that life is full of, that I could remember my grandmother’s unshakable strength and begin to rely on her mantram myself. Since then, every day has brought a deeper realization of the mantram’s power to turn fear into fearlessness, anger into compassion, and hatred into love.  

Excerpted from ‘The Mantram Handbook – A Practical Guide to Choosing Your Mantram & Calming Your Mind.’ Eknath Easwaran was a spiritual teacher, professor and author. His 109th birth anniversary is being observed on December 17 

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