Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 115 - Mantra, Language and Meaning
Date: Thu Feb 12, 2004 0:49pm
Q: English is not my first language. I am wondering if I should translate the mantra “I AM” to my own language and use that for meditation.
A: It is a good question. Others have asked it too. Even those of us who have english as our first language should take note of the following suggestions.
No, don’t translate the mantra. As has been said before, the mantra is not about language or meaning. If we had been given it orally, there would be no spelling, no language, and no meaning. Just a sound vibration to use in meditation in that specific way that allows the mind to go naturally to stillness.
Since we are doing all this in writing, we have to spell the mantra. With or without spelling, it is just a sound that is found to have certain good qualities deep in the nervous system. This was reviewed in lesson #59 – “Some mantra particulars.” It is found in the english/christian tradition as “I AM.” It is also found in other traditions and languages in similar forms, and sometimes identical. The natural vibrational qualities in our nervous system are universal, and not determined by language.
If the I AM spelling is distracting, then think of the same sound spelled another way like – AYAM. Same pronunciation, no meaning, and no language. If we try and attach a meaning to it, we will not be doing our meditation a favor. Let there be one sound in our life that does not have a worldly connection. Let it be the mantra. The mantra should mean only one thing – It is our ticket to ride to the infinite. Let us use it for that, and for that alone when we are meditating.
If meanings and language come up in meditation, we just regard them as any other thoughts coming up, and easily go back to the mantra at whatever level of quietness or fuzziness it is. Then we continue our inner march to stillness, inner silence, pure bliss consciousness.
The mind settles down to stillness best when using the vibration alone. Meanings tend to pull us to the surface of the mind, so we easily let them go and favor the finer levels of the vibration of the mantra. Meanings and language are for the outer word. Vibrations naturally becoming finer and finer are for the inner world of pure bliss consciousness. The mantra is for that. It is not a word of meaning. It is a vibrational vehicle that refines and disappears as we ride to the infinite every day.
In time, with the easy daily practice of meditation, our inner world of silent pure bliss consciousness becomes always present in our outer world, and vise versa. The gateway of our nervous system opens wide. We experience the truth of yoga, the joining of the infinite with our every day life. We come to find we are That.
This glorious outcome has nothing to do with language or any outer meaning of the mantra. We leave all that behind when we meditate.
The guru is in you.