The word mantra has two components to it: Man, which is the root sound of the word mind, and tra, which is the root sound of the word instrument. So, the word mantra literally means an instrument of the mind. The ancient wisdom tradition of Vedanta examined the various sounds produced in nature, the fundamental vibrations of the world around us. According to Vedanta, these sounds are an expression of the infinite or cosmic mind, and provide the basis for every human language. For example, if you sound out all the letters of the alphabet, the vowels and the consonants, you’ll hear that these are the same sounds that all babies make spontaneously.
These sounds also contain the same vibrations that animals make. And if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that these sounds are everywhere in nature. These are the sounds of the wind, of fire crackling, of thunder, of the river rushing by, of ocean waves crashing on the shore. Nature is vibration. The infinite being vibrates, and that vibration is rhythmic, musical, and primordial. Vibration is the means through which infinite potential expresses itself as the manifest universe.
We know that the manifest universe–which appears to be made up of solid objects–is actually made up of vibrations, with different objects vibrating at different frequencies. Of course, if I kick a large rock, I don’t feel vibration. I feel pain. But the fact is that the foot that feels the pain and the brain that records the pain are also vibration. Vibration interacts with vibration, and we interpret that as matter and sensation.
Mantra is just a word that describes this quality of the universe. The ancient seers are said to have heard these vibrations of the universe when they were in deep meditation. We can all hear these same vibrations any time. It is very simple. If you quiet your mind and sit silently,, you will hear vibrations. You can try it any time you want. Even when you cover your ears, you’ll hear them. Your body is also constantly vibrating, but the sounds are so subtle that you usually don’t hear them. But if you sit quietly when there is no noise around you, you’ll hear a background hum in the air. And if you start paying attention to that background hum, with practice you’ll actually end up hearing all the mantras that have been recorded in the Vedic literature.
The Vedas also maintain that if you recite a mantra out loud, its special pattern of vibrations creates its own effects, and can create events in our current physical realm. Reciting the mantra mentally creates a mental vibration, which then becomes more abstract. Ultimately it takes you into the field of pure consciousness or spirit from where the vibration arose. So a mantra is a very good way to transcend and go back to the source of thought, which is pure consciousness. This is why specific mantras are recommended because of the specific vibrations they induce.
The mantra I use, and that I recommend for achieving synchrodestiny, is the simple mantra “so-hum.” This is the mantra of the breath; if you observe your breathing you’ll hear “so-hum” as air moves in and out of your lungs. As you inhale, the sound of that vibration is “so.” And as you exhale the sound becomes “hum.” If you want, you can experiment with this. Inhale deeply, close your eyes and your mouth, and exhale forcefully through your nose. If you concentrate, you’ll hear the “hum” sound quite clearly.
One of the techniques of meditation is, in fact, simply focusing on where your breath comes from. With your eyes closed, inhale and think the word; on the exhale, think the word “hum.” Gradually both the breath and the sound will become quieter and quieter and quieter, and the breath becomes so quiet that it almost seems to stop. By quieting your breath, you quiet your mind. When you transcend, the mantra “so-hum” entirely disappears, and your breath pauses momentarily. Time itself comes to a top and you’re in the field of pure consciousness, the non-local domain, spirit, the ground of being.
The mantra, then, is a way to experience non-local consciousness. Aborigines, Indians, Native Americans, and many other traditional cultures have used it for thousands of years. In every tradition mantras involve chanting to create special vibrations, sounds of the universe that create something from nothingness, that move energy from the unmanifest into the manifest.
Adapted from The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, by Deepak Chopra, Three River Press, 2003.