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December 9, 2011

This is a lovely 🙂

I want to share a little story, close to my heart. Many years ago, when I first moved to the city from the country to live in the nearby hills, I went down to the city to meet a world famous saint from India who was visiting Australia. To remember her visit and carry the inspiration forwards into my day to day life, I bought a Mala, a set of prayer beads to wear and with which to pray. The beads came from a tree, which through its ancestors had been growing in the grounds of one of the oldest monasteries in India for many thousands of years, a pretty special thing.

The specific type of beads are known as the Rudraksha. There are several different mythological basis to the story of the Rudraksha seed, but the basic one is as follows, a long long long time ago, god, incarnated as Shiva, was meditating on the suffering of humanity, to find a solution to a great evil in the world and for the wellbeing of living beings, after many many years, some stories say many thousands of years, Shiva opened his eyes and tears fell upon the earth. These tears became the Rudraksha, the tears of God.

The Rudraksha is a seed pod, found inside a fruit of a brilliant blue color, the pod is divided into varied numbers of sections, and is scripturally and physically varied in its interactions with human consciousness, depending on the number of sections. This number of divisions is basis of the methodology used to categorise each pod and its properties. For the common mala, the number of sections, or mukti, is five.

The Rudraksha, due to their religious significance, have been studied by a number of famous scientists and there is extensive evidence in the literature to show that Rudraksha either mediate or cause some profoundly interesting and beneficial effects in the biology and consciousness of the wearer or user. Because of this tradition and physical reality, they have been used historically, by buddhist, sikh and hindu monastics, amongst others, for use with prayer, meditation, and sanctity.

I used and wore these beads for many years, and undertook a number of different Mantra practices, on at least a daily basis. If not for several hours each day. I found that the practice of these ancient traditions of  prayer, brought healing and growth, both subtle and deep, to myself and to several others I spent time with.

What is mantra? A mantra is a prayer, written (according to tradition), by individuals who were so spiritually awakened and aware that they physically saw reality in terms of energy, and used words and sounds that directly correlated to this awareness. In effect mantra is seen as the primordial ancient language of light, given human form by those who read it. An ancient and sacred practice for purifying the mind, spirit and heart.

These prayers, mantra, work on multiple levels to transform the subtle energy, heart, mind and physical body, in order to bring about the spiritual growth and sanctity requested in each prayer. There is so much I could write about this! To go any further into this concept would take many books, as I’m sure have already been written. Suffice to say, like all spiritual practice, the practice of mantras begin with faith and love and the desire to purify ones thoughts, the calling of god. And ends as a powerful transformative practice, that helps allow the grace of the divine source of life into your heart, mind and life, as well as the consciousness of people you sit with and places you sit.

One of the mantras most special to me is known as the Gayatri Mantra, this is one of the most ancient prayers known to humanity, it is found on the first page of one of the oldest spiritual books in existence, and one of the few things that all the varied traditions of hindu thought can agree on. It is an ancient prayer that has never ceased, never ended, and which continues to this day, for thousands of years chanted in the silence of the heart, and today aloud by many, for the uplifting of humanity and of all life. This ancient tradition is a heritage we can all benefit from, if it calls to us.

The Gayatri Mantra is Sanskrit and in Devangari is as follows:

ॐ भूर्भुवः॒ स्वः॒ ।तत्स॑वितुर्वरे॑ण्यम् ।भ॒र्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि। ।धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त्॥ ।

in Phonetic English its constituent sounds (as words) are;

Om Bhoor Buvah Svah Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Diyo Yo Nah Pratchodayat

My translation of the Gayatri, (found online)

Throughout the experience of life, That essential nature, illuminating existence, is the adorable one. May all beings perceive through the subtle and meditative intellect, the brilliance of enlightened awareness.

Spiritual practices, like prayer, meditation, mantra, are not necessarily fast in conscious effect, not immediate, and much of the time may appear pointless to the spiritually unaware, (and those put off from religion), but through genuine faith, sober spirituality and devoted practice, changes occur, as if drip by drip, each thought of love and devotion, each sacred word, each communion, each meditation, is cleansing the doors of the mind and heart so one can begin to see out in peace.

In time, with practice, familiarity and devotion, the power of our practice increases, until prayer, meditation and mantra(and indeed all practices) are both fast, immediate and powerful. Through practice, we can become of great use in the awakening of consciousness in ourselves and others. When  you chant a prayer, or pray with great devotion, you invite sacredness into your life, mind and heart, a state that can profoundly effect those near to you who are not themselves at peace. Planting subtle seeds for later.

Sometimes it is the simplest and most non-rational things, the most heartfelt, that can be the greatest gifts in life.



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