Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 188 - Mantra Design 101
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Date: Thu May 13, 2004 10:24pm
Q: You stated, “I AM” can be pronounced as AYAM; this is very similar (if not the same) as the tantric beeja AYEIM. Are these two the same?
What is the basis for the first and second enhancement to the I AM mantra? I mean you have probably written this on the basis of several years of experience with these mantras, and experiential knowledge is very hard to intellectually convey in many instances. Still I would like to know how you arrived at this mantra – I have never seen this mantra or anything similar in any of the classic tantric texts on mantra shastra. How is it that the mantra is SHREE OM SHREE OM I AM I AM NAMAH and not something like SHREE OM I AM I AM NAMAH? Why is there two SHREE’s followed by OM ?
And why does not the SHREE end in M (i.e. SHREEM) as is usually how it is used in mantras?
A: Thank you for writing, especially on this topic. I have been looking for an inspiration to post a lesson on mantra design. We can call it “Mantra Design 101.” As with many things presented in these lessons, traditional approaches are respected but not necessarily adhered to strictly if direct experience guides us to a more optimal solution in yoga.
If the pronunciation is the same as for I AM, then AYAM and AYEIM are the same from the point of view of mantra. There may be different meanings for the different spellings in sanskrit, but that does not matter. It is the vibration we are using. If you do a web search on “sanskrit ayam” and also on “sanskrit ayeim,” you will find both used in various mantras. There is also a Muslim version spelled AYYAM.
If AYEIM is pronounced AYEEM, then it is not the same. AM and EEM go in opposite directions in the nervous system. With some ecstatic conductivity coming up it can be easily felt by anyone. This “feeling” is the basis of design of all the mantras in the lessons. They are not based solely on scriptures. In fact, no scriptural authority is claimed. Of course, nothing is conjured up out of nowhere either. The syllables are familiar, and have appeared in venerable scriptures, though the order of use may be a bit different here.
Mantra syllables are like tuning forks in the nervous system. Each vibration resonates in a different part of our inner circuitry. This is true with or without ecstatic conductivity previously awakened. The difference is that, when the nervous system is ecstatically awakened, the effects become experiential, and can be observed in the body. The effects are experienced with the inner senses and have an ecstatic overtone. The resonating effect of a syllable deep in the silence of the mind loosens obstructions in a particular way unique to that syllable. With that experience-based feedback, and knowing the most effective and safest order of awakening the nervous system, especially the spinal nerve, the mantras can be suitably assembled. Let’s get more specific.
I AM (by any spelling) resonates in the full length of the spinal nerve from the third eye to the root.
This has not been said before in the lessons. It has only been hinted at. It has not been mentioned because I don’t want to encourage anyone to think the mantra in any particular location in the body. The mantra resonates naturally with the particular part of the nervous system it is attuned to. We don’t have to help it by directing it here or there. In fact, we can interfere with the natural resonance by doing that. So, don’t locate the mantra, okay? Just pick it up easily and effortlessly wherever it may be, as always, and let it refine. If I AM is coming up in the feet, or anywhere else, it will resonate from the third eye to the root. Just as a tuning fork will vibrate the corresponding string of an instrument if brought anywhere in the vicinity.
Having said that, now you can do an experiment and observe if you want. If you think the sound “I,” maybe you can feel the subtle neurology in the head reaching out through the center of the brow. If not, no matter. That is where it naturally vibrates. No need to help it or feel it. That is where it is. Now, if you think the sound “AM,” maybe you can feel it going naturally down through the center of the body. If not, well, no matter. When ecstatic conductivity comes up you will. Feeling it has no bearing on the effectiveness of the mantra. Feeling it is only a symptom of the degree of purification we have in the nervous system, and the degree of ecstatic conductivity (kundalini) we have coming up. It will come to all of us as we continue with daily practices. When we do feel the mantra ecstatically like that, and notice our attention off in thoughts about the sensation, location in the body, etc., we treat it like any other experience that comes up in meditation and easily go back to the mantra. Nothing changes in the procedure of meditation. Only the experiences change to become more ecstatic and divine, so we have to be mindful not to get preoccupied with them during meditation and our other practices.
As has been said in earlier lessons, I AM is a “dual pole” mantra. The resonance of it in the spinal nerve is the reason why. “I” is the shiva component, and “AM” is the shakti component. With this mantra we are bringing the mind to stillness in such a way so as to purify the full length of the spinal nerve. By using a mantra that resonates between the third eye and the root, we are following the safest and most balanced path of awakening, just as we do in spinal breathing pranayama. The two practices are parallel methods, both working to purify the spinal nerve on their respective levels in the nervous system. Both practices, done in sequence (spinal breathing and then meditation), awaken and stabilize our ecstatic energies and inner silence. Together, these emanate out naturally from the spinal nerve.
With the first mantra enhancement (SHREE SHREE I AM I AM), we are doing two new things. First, we are increasing the number of syllables of the mantra. This broadens our sweep through the subconscious, purifying a wider path through the nervous system. It also slows down our descent into pure bliss consciousness, and brings more of it out with us as we come back out. So, more syllables do more purification and stabilize more inner silence in the nervous system. Why not one SHREE, or three SHREE’s? We could have built up slower, beginning with one SHREE, and then added another one later. That way we’d have two enhancements instead of one. I did not think it was necessary to make the steps that small. Will we go to three SHREE’s? It is not anticipated at this time. With the second enhancement added to the two SHREE’s it is quite a good and long mantra already. More than enough to get the job done.
The reason for SHREE itself is for a new direction we are taking in the purification of our nervous system, expanding our mantra beyond the familiar third eye to root spinal nerve resonance for the first time. Expanding where? To the crown. SHREE takes us straight up the spinal nerve to the crown. In the center of the head the spinal nerve (sushumna) has a fork. It goes in two directions from there. First is the route to the third eye at the point between the eyebrows. Second is to the crown, straight up into the middle of the corona radiata, above the pineal gland and ventricles of the brain. Right up through there. With the resonance of SHREE in the crown we start to purify that area in relation to the entire spinal nerve. SHREE is a phonetic spelling of SRI, so it is not the same as SHREEM, per your question.
That is the first enhancement of the mantra.
A note on the crown: Way back when we first started discussing kundalini, it was mentioned that going to the crown prematurely could create all kinds of problems in the nervous system — the example of Gopi Krishna’s well-documented nightmare-ish journey to enlightenment was given. Opening the third eye to root spinal nerve is the safest and most enjoyable way to go about purifying and opening the nervous system, and fast too. This is recognized in some of the traditions, and not recognized so well in others. Being wise travelers, we have gone the third eye to root path, both in spinal breathing and in meditation. And for most of us it is very progressive and smooth. As we are opening the third eye to root spinal nerve, we are also affecting the crown. It is inevitable, because the two are connected in the middle of the brain. Anyone who experiences the rise of ecstatic conductivity in the third eye route will experience an ecstatic crown opening as well. The difference is that, with the third eye leading, the process will not spiral out of control into excessive kundalini symptoms, as can happen when the crown is leading. So we go along that way, opening the third eye with gusto, letting the crown follow along safely. Then, at some point, the crown is purified enough “by osmosis” from the third eye opening so we can take a more direct approach to the crown. That is why we add SHREE’s (and also OM’s) into our mantra, and we will be taking a more direct approach to the crown with pranayama as well a few more lessons down the road. So, you see, we are getting around to the crown in our own time and in our own way, prudently avoiding the long-term havoc that a premature crown opening can bring.
The third eye is like our window to the divine and we can accomplish a lot going in and out through there. It is controlled (ajna means “control”), safe, very ecstatic, and it must be opened. The crown, the sahasrar (the thousand petaled lotus) is like our roof, and once we open it up, we are easily dissolved into the divine. There is some control in this, but no where near the control we have working through the third eye. By the time we have purified the crown, both indirectly through the third eye, and directly later on by going straight up, we are ready to surrender ourselves on the altar of our crown, and then we find ourselves gone into ecstatic bliss. When we come back, we are no longer working for ourselves. We are then working for the Self in all — we have become That. It is not an instantaneous transition. It happens over a period of years — decades even. It is human spiritual transformation. So, I wanted to make clear that we never intended to avoid the crown forever — only until the time is right. You will know when that is for you in your heart, and these practices are designed to give you some guidelines on the matter, and the tools.
The second enhancement to the mantra (SHREE OM SHREE OM I AM I AM NAMAH) adds more syllables for the same reason as before (a much bigger sweep through the subconscious), and introduces the powerful OM component. OM resonates naturally in the medulla oblongata, the brain stem, spreading out everywhere through the nervous system, and beyond. Please be reminded that we don’t try and localize the mantra in any particular physical part of our body. The tuning fork effect will work best if we are easy with the mantra, following the procedure of meditation as originally instructed early in the lessons. The nervous system already knows how to respond to the mantra in the appropriate way. All we have to do is use the mantra correctly, and everything will be fine.
OM lives up to its reputation of being the “mother of all mantras.” It is the deeply ecstatic primordial sound of what we are, manifesting from pure bliss consciousness. As explained in the lesson on the second enhancement, we have to prepare for it before using it in deep meditation. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc. Under the best of circumstances, OM is “devastating ecstasy” in deep meditation, especially once ecstatic conductivity is coming up. It will be too much for anyone who goes to the second enhancement prematurely, so don’t rush into it. You will know when you are ready. For deciding when to “shift gears,” use the guidelines given in the lesson.
OM is paired with SHREE for a reason, and it is second instead of first for a reason. It is paired to maintain polarity between the crown (SHREE) and the rest of the nervous system resonating with OM. This is another dimension of the shiva-shakti balanced relationship, in this case between the crown and the medulla oblongata. It is a more dynamic and far-reaching manifestation of the shiva-shakti pairing than I AM (which also continues). OM is placed after SHREE for more longevity in the vibration of OM. SHREE OM is coming into the body, and OM SHREE is leaving the body. It is a distinction with a noticeably positive difference in effect when seen through the inner senses of ecstatic conductivity.
Finally, NAMAH is added for its syllables and as a traditional transition in mantra repetitions. It resonates ecstatically in the heart, cultivating bhakti, and has a purifying effect throughout the nervous system.
I realize that we have all had to take our mantras on faith from others who are supposed to know, who get them from scriptures. You know, I think it is going to change as ecstatic conductivity comes up in more and more people in this rising new age. We already have some people in this group with awakened kundalini who can no doubt judge for themselves how the mantra syllables are resonating in their nervous system. In other words, if you are taking my (or anyone else’s) word for it now, you won’t have to in the future. All it takes is awakening ecstatic conductivity through the practices. Anyone who has will “see” the effects of the mantras inside and know for themselves. Then the proof will be found right there in the pudding, and you won’t have to take anyone else’s word for it anymore.
Well, that is quite a lot of information. I sincerely hope that it does not distract anyone from the simple procedure of favoring the mantra and letting it happen naturally in meditation. None of what has been written here is necessary to do correct meditation, and it could indeed be distracting. So file all this under “food for bhakti” and continue to enjoy your journey homeward to enlightenment using the easy practice of deep meditation.
The guru is in you.