Japa - Talk II - Page 3 of 6|
In India, it is quiet common for a child to be initiated into a mantra, called Gayathri. The person who initiated me into Gayatri did not teach me its entire meaning. He only said that it was a prayer asking the Lord to give me a bright mind and that if I repeated it in this manner, I would have a bright mind.
Gayatri is a sanskrit prayer to Lord Surya, the sun, who stands for the all-knowing Lord who makes your mind brilliant. This is what I was told. And although I was not given its entire meaning, it was meaningful to me because it was a prayer. Later, of course, I gained an apperciation of its meaning.
In this way, this mantra and others serve as a technique, enabling a young child to learn how to use his or her mind. It works because, when the child chants the mantra, the mind will wander. The child then directs it back to the chant, thereby learning how to use the mind.
Therefore, at a young age a child gets an insight into his or her mind, which is not an ordinary thing. To know how the mind works is a great blessing. Even if we do not understand Gayatri or any other mantra completely, still we know it is a prayer whose meaning we can come to understand.
A MEANINGFUL CHANT
If a sound that has no meaning is chanted, it can serve as a technique. And, for the purposes I have mentioned, it looks as though any chant will work. But all sounds you repeat will not work because you cannot give meaning to a chant that is meaningless and, therefore, you cannot be serious about it.
Suppose, however, you chant a word that does not have a meaning, like
carror:....carrot.....carrot......carrot......carrot. Or, zucchini....zucchini.....zucchini. We have varieties of
meaningful words, even the word cookie: cookie...cookie....cookie. Why not? Any meaningful word is definitely a step ahead of a meaningless word, but something more is required for it to work as a japa. A meaningless word will not bring anything to your mind and a meaningful word will cause your mind
to be full of carrots, zucchinis, cookies, or whatever. Therefore, neither of these kinds of words will work.
A NAME OF THE LORD
Instead , you choose one meaningful word that covers the whole creation, a word that is not one of the many objects in the world. A meaningless sound includes everything without indicating any one object. Since all objects are included in the form of the Lord, nothing is omitted when you repeat the Lord's name.
In this way, the meaningful chant becomes all- inclusive. All words are included in one chosen word. All names in all lanuages are also included. Traditionally, the word can vary. You can say Siva, Rama, Krsna, Jesus, or Allah, but in your mind the word chosen should stand for everything. Because the word does not stand for any onething, you will not be reminded of a given object when you chant it.