“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.
Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein, 1954
Mantra and Yantra
Mantras are sounds and yantras are visual symbols. These two tools are much used in tantra. Yantras represent maps of consciousness, maps of the mind. Mantras represent the essence of the final element.
The five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether and the five indriyas, the senses, are connected. Sound and speech are connected to akasha tattwa, the ether element. When nothing of matter exists, only sound exists. Sound, the vibration in space lingers on and on and on. The basic nature, the basic quality, the basic expression of the space element is sound. Therefore, mantra represents finality. After having gone through all the elements, there is merger into the space element, the brahmandiya element, the universal element.
When you are chanting the mantra in your meditation, you are only focusing on the sound and nothing more. In order to focus the mind and stop its wavering, you use a visual form, the symbol. That symbol can be anything. It can be a triangle, a flame, a drop, the moon, sun, or a flower.
The symbol which you have visualized, is the yantra on which you are focusing the mind. A yantra can be complex like the Sri Yantra, with many little triangles and pieces. It can also be as simple as a single triangle with three lines, or the shape of a flame.
Anything visual, in which you are holding your mind for an extended period of time, becomes the yantra. Ultimately what you are observing creates a mirror image in the mind, and that is your psychic symbol.
iPads and iPhones
When I see children playing their games on iPads, iPhones, and computers, and when I see that their attention span is becoming shorter and shorter every passing day, then I imagine the kind of mind they are expressing at that time: it is a visually cluttered mind. Even when these children are dreaming, they are dreaming of Age of Empires,in their sleep. Even when they are dreaming, they are dreaming of a computer game, Batman shooting bang bang in their sleep or something coming to eat them.
These images become the symbols in the mind of a young child, for that is what they see when they sleep at night. They see themselves playing the game. Grown-ups, who have had a different background, have different visual impressions. They are not watching a game, but they will be watching their stresses in their dream; the difficulties that they had during the day, at work, with the job, the pressure, stress, anxiety and tension. That becomes the visual in their dream.
Anything that becomes visual is like a release from within, it is being acknowledged and released from the rubbish bin. Therefore, visual inputs and sights as yantra observation play an important role in tantra.
Sight and sound
The sense organ that is used to the maximum is sight. Through your eyes, through your sight you can see wherever you want to see. You cannot taste twenty kilometres or twenty feet away, but you can see twenty kilometres or twenty feet away. You cannot touch twenty feet away, but you can see twenty feet away. You cannot smell twenty feet away, but you can see twenty feet away. Eyes are the most active sense organ that connects you to the world, and then comes sound.
Mantra and yantra are the tools which are used to transcend the gross dimension of form and sound. Yantras represent the transcendental form, and mantras represent the eternal sound principle that continue to exist even when creation does not exist, when matter and manifestation does not exist, when elements do not exist.
The best form of visualization during the chanting of any mantra is according to one’s inclination. Some people select as their symbol, an abstract symbol. Some people select a figure. Others select an image of saints, sages, gurus and avatars. There are people who select nature images such as water, a star, the moon or sun, a flower, a blade of grass or a leaf. Some people choose religious symbols and motifs such as an Om, a cross, Christ, Prophet Mohammed. Anything can be used for visualization.
In yoga the best type of images recommended for visualizations are those which do not carry any emotional content; and for that reason, the abstract symbols are used more often.
Mantra and yantra together become a powerful tool to take one from the gross to the subtle dimensions of human experience.
—17 April 2016, Ganga Darshan, Munger
“How easy the spiritual path is, if you give even a little time each day to meditation. Meditate intensely, morning and evening. Even fifteen minutes of meditation is better than no time at all.”PARAMHANSA YOGANANDA, FROM CONVERSATIONS WITH YOGANANDA
1.“In meditation, you must go beyond thought. As long as you are busy thinking, you are in your rational mind, on the conscious plane. When you sleep and dream, you are on the subconscious plane. And when your mind is fully withdrawn in superconsciousness, it becomes centered in the bliss of the spine. That is the level of the soul’s existence.”
2.“Do not be anxious if you don’t have meditative experiences. The path to God is not a circus! Don’t even be anxious about such fruits of meditation as inner joy and peace. Everything will come in time. Meanwhile, consider meditation, too, as a form of karma yoga: action without desire for the fruits of action. Meditate above all to please your higher self, not your ego.”
“3.Every sincere effort is registered in the Divine consciousness. Your duty…is to accept whatever He sends you — and, for that matter, He doesn’t send. God alone knows what past karma keeps you from perceiving Him right now. He may want you to finish up your karma in this life, before giving you eternal bliss.”
4.“Don’t waste the perception of the God’s presence, acquired in meditation, by useless chatting. Idle words are like bullets: they riddle the milk pail of peace. In devoting time unnecessarily to conversation and exuberant laughter, you’ll find you have nothing left inside. Fill the pail of your consciousness with the milk of meditative peace, then keep it filled. Joking is false happiness. Too much laughter riddles the mind and lets the peace in the bucket flow out, wasting it.”
5.“Meditate regularly, and you will find a joy inside that is real. You will then have something you can compare to sense pleasures. That comparison will automatically make you want to forsake your sorrow-producing bad habits. The best way to overcome temptation is to have something more fulfilling to compare it with.”
6.“Never count your faults. Just think about whether you love God enough. [The Divine] doesn’t mind your faults, only your indifference.”
7.“Many people meditate till they feel a touch of peace, but jump up then and leave their meditation for their activities. That’s all right, if you have important work waiting for you, for it is always better to meditate before any activity, that you may feel at least some peace as you work. Whenever possible, however, sit for a long time after your practice of techniques. That is when the deepest enjoyment comes. Intuition is developed by continuously deepening that enjoyment, and, later on, by holding on to its calm aftereffect.”
8.“[The Divine Spirit] answers all prayers. Restless prayers, however, He answers only a little bit. If you offer to others something that isn’t yours to give, won’t that be a merely empty gesture? If you pray…similarly, but lack control over your own thoughts, that prayer will be without power. Thoughts and feelings, both, must be focused when you pray. Otherwise God will meet your little trickle with another trickle in return! Answers will be doled out to you in a teaspoon. Too often, prayer is more like the halfhearted mumbling of a beggar than the confident, loving demand of a friend.”
9.“You won’t find [the Divine Spirit] by making constant excuses: for example, saying, ‘When I find a quiet place, I will meditate.’ That is not at all the way to get there! If you tell yourself, however, “Right now I will plunge into deep meditation!” you can be there in a moment. When you are really sleepy, you have no difficulty in sleeping no matter where you are. When a person is in love, he or she finds no difficulty in thinking of the beloved; rather, it is difficult not to think of him or her, even to the point of ignoring work. Be in love with God! It is easy to meditate deeply, when your love for [the Divine] is deep enough.”
LEARN TO MEDITATE
Having a daily meditation practice is a powerful tool for a more fulfilling life. Learning this simple and effective meditation technique will ensure you maintain a daily practice.