Mantra and Meditation – Br. Shankara

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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mantraJuly is a month for study of Raja Yoga, the path of concentration, meditation, and samadhi (self-realization).

This week we will define what a mantra is, explore the relationship between a mantra and concentration, and describe how concentration evolves into meditation.

Sri Ramakrishna sang this during a visit to his devotee Keshab’s house on April 2, 1882:
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
As I repeat my Mother Kāli’s name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk!
First my guru gives molasses for the making of the Wine;
My longing is the ferment to transform it.
Knowledge, the maker of the Wine, 
prepares it for me then;
And when it is done, my mind imbibes it 
from the bottle of the mantra,
Taking the Mother’s name to make it pure.
Drink of this Wine, says Ramprasad,
And the four fruits of life are yours.

Ramprasad’s spiritual ideal was Mother Kāli; Ramakrishna shared his deep devotion to Her. Yet, Sri Chaitanya said that any aspect of the Divine Presence can be at the heart of a mantra:
Various are Thy names, O Lord,
in each and every name Thy power resides.

— from Ch.’s Prayer

And Swami Vivekananda said:
Repeating the names of God (japam) has wonderful power …You must go on with your japam whatever direction the mind takes. — from the CW

Swami Prabhavananda added:
Make japam: mantra contains the revealing power of the Word (OM) and other … names of God/Goddess and the Incarnations of God. — from “How to Know God”

In this talk, we discuss what is meant by this revealing power, and how that power can help the spiritual aspirant “overcome the world.”