There are many doubts and misconception among people about mantra. Even many knowledgeable persons says that mantra is nothing but a boring repetition of words that doesn’t affect our consciousness and the only effect it produce is to take the chanter ( the one who repeats the mantra ) into a state of sleep.
There are many other wrong notions about mantra which, I think, exist because of the fact that people are not aware of the full mechanism of mantra. So before you start mantra meditation, it is essential that you clear all your doubts about mantra:The doubt (1): Mantra will take you into sleep : Fact: Yes but only if you use it as a lullaby.
The most important thing in mantra meditation is that you should repeat it with the full awareness of its meaning. However, many people repeat mantra without having full awareness of its meaning. If you repeat a mantra in such mechanical way then it will not produce any effect and will remain an ordinary word.
The emotional feeling in which a mantra is chanted is the most important requisite of mantra meditation. In its absence a mantra is no more than a lullaby. So always keep in mind that whenever you repeat a mantra, you should know what is the meaning of that Mantra. Otherwise you’ll not be able to draw any benefit from it.The doubt (2) : Language of most mantra is strange and difficult to understand. Fact: To some extent it is true but there is a reason for it.
The entire concept of Mantra meditation began in India. That is why most of the mantras are in Sanskrit Language which is the language of the Vedas (the oldest written texts of the world). Though the language Sanskrit may be ancient & alien to you, what is still intact in various mantras written in this language is their phonetic significance and their ability to create powerful vibration of sound .
All mantras were developed after painstaking research and efforts. Therefore, they are very well written tools for achieving a meditative state. You should only think about meditating- the process of achieving a state of choiceless awareness- without thinking about the language of the mantra that you will be repeating.
[ Note: Sanskrit is not the sole language of mantra. In almost every religion there are some specific words related to Sound. The word ‘Amen’ in Christianity, ‘Allah Hoo’ in Islam and ‘Om mani Padme Hum’ in Buddhist traditions are some examples. Please keep in mind that of whichever language’s mantra you repeat, you must repeat it with full awareness of its meaning. In the section Some mantra to dwell upon, I have discussed four mantra in details : Om Namah Shivay, Hare Krishna Mantra, Aum and So’ham. Please make sure to read the basic terminology before you chant them ]The doubt (3): If Mantra can create a powerful sound vibration then what is the need to repeat it. We can record a mantra on tape and can listen to it as and when we want for achieving a meditative state. easy ! Isn’t it ?
Fact : It seems logical but actually is not that logical.
It appears logical that If mantra can produce powerful sound vibration then why not use a tape recorder and listen to it repeatedly. However, in reality it is not that easy as it appears. If you record a mantra and listen to it passively, you will fall asleep as the mantra will act as a lullaby.
All those- who are really interested in mantra meditation- should keep in mind that there are two basic requirement for getting any benefit from mantra meditation-
(1) the sound of the mantra; and
(2) the repetition of mantra with faith and full awareness of its meaning
When you play a mantra on tape, you are just a passive listener. The requirement of sound is there , but the awareness part is absent. Even if the recorded sound is of someone who has recorded the mantra with faith and full awareness of its meaning, the fact remains that you, who is just a passive listener, will not be able to draw any benefits form this sound as it is not your faith but that of someone else which is included in the recorded mantra. So unless you yourself chant the mantra with faith and full awareness of this meaning, the only thing you will get is a sound sleep.
Please keep in mind that In order to obtain full fruit of mantra, we have to repeat it with full awareness of its meaning. Most of the time, we repeat the mantra with the wrong understanding, thinking that the syllables of the mantra and the object of the mantra are different from each other and from ourselves. That is why the mantra does not bear immediate fruit for us. If you think about this you will understand that the same thing is true on a mundane level.
Suppose that someone calls you an idiot. If you do not accept the word “idiot” as referring to you, you will not react to it. But if you identify with it, you may become so angry that your blood heat up. If you were to identify yourself with the name of God as easily as you identify yourself with an abusive term, you would experience its effects at once.Doubt (4): Is there a difference between repeating a mantra silently and repeating it loudly ? Fact: There is a little difference but not much.
As I have already explained, the main thing is that you should repeat a mantra with faith, respect and with full awareness of its meaning. This can be done in both way i.e. by silently repeating the mantra or by pronouncing it loudly. The basic difference in repeating a mantra silently and repeating it loudly lies in the intensity of sound that comes out in both the method. But these vibrations may differ in their quantity but not in their quality and both have the same effect on our inner consciousness.
Doubt (5): But no sound is produced when we repeat a mantra silently? Fact: If you can’t listen a sound, don’t think it does not exist.
Well it appears to us that no sound is produced, the reality is that every action and every thought produces a sound. That’s a different thing that our senses can not detect it. Human being are capable of detecting only sound between 20 to 20,000 decibel. We can’t listen sound below or above that level. However, this does not mean that such sounds do not exist.
They do exists and leave their effect on us. When you chant a mantra silently, it produces a sound. Though we can’t hear the sound, , it does exist and produces the vibrations which affects our inner consciousness.
I hope the above clarifications have removed all your doubts about mantra meditation.