By K.W.B., author of 'Awareness - The Center of Being'
A mantra is a sound or word generally used to help focus the mind on a single thought until thoughtless Beingness is established. As a tool to achieve Stillness, the mantra is to be discarded at the moment Stillness is achieved.
The word Mantra is related to manas (the mind); Yoga means to unite with our Origin. Mantra Yoga would then mean to unite using the tool of mantra.
Mantras are sometimes also applied to change circumstances, to regain a healthy condition for example. These mantras are specially formulated to carry a certain vibrational power, so it is important that the proper pronunciation is imparted in these circumstances.
OM - AUM - AMIN - AMEN - Cosmic Vibration - The Word of God
Readers of the Bible are familiar with Amen and the Word of God. They probably have heard of OM too. What might be new is that these words have, in fact, the same meaning and also the same origins. Physicists know that all of matter, our whole Universe, is made of vibrational energy. Atoms are no longer pictured as solid balls orbiting a solid center or proton. Electrons and protons are now explained as energy concentrations with a certain vibrational pattern. This vibration is called by readers of the Bible Amen or the Word of God. Hindus call it OM or AUM. Muslems call it Amin.
OM is the original vibration from which all other mantras are derived. Usually when we hear OM reproduced on TV or at a spiritual gathering it is pronounced like dome without the 'd'. However, the 'o' may sound more like the vowel-sound in ball. It is a deep roaring sound and much closer to the Tibetan mountain trumpets which are used to reproduce the sound and remind people that it might be time to return Home. This sound can be perceived during meditation.
Japa is the continual act of repeating a name of God, reciting the name like a mantra. A mala may be used for automatic counting of repetitions, but when used in japa, the mala's main use is for anchoring the mind and even to give rythm to the repetitions. A thorough explanation of Japa and Ajapa may be found in a book by Ma Yoga Shakti
called "Techniques of Meditation - To Enhance Mind-Power".
Japa and mala are similar to the stick which is given to an elephant being lead through narrow streets filled with merchants in India. Without carrying the stick in his trunk, the elephant will move its trunk to the left and right knocking goods from tables, but when given a stick the elephant will carry his trunk straight ahead. The practice of japa helps us keep our trunk - the mind - still.
One traditional name used in the practice of japa is Rama. However, Christ or any other name of God is fine as long as the association is there. Japa should be repeated constantly; this technique, more than any other, is the exact equivalent to the first commandment of the Bible: "You shall love God with all your heart, mind and soul." For this is what japa is: to fully concentrate on God - with all our heart, mind and soul.
Bija-mantras are sound keys which one might use to address any of the 7 chakras (energy centers) located along the spine and brain. The main keys to the seven chakras are:
Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Ksam, Bam (or OM).
Additional information and graphics for the 7 chakras are available in our Chakras Software.