THE SIMPLIFIED BASICS OF FINDING PROTECTION, MENTAL STABILITY, AND HAPPINESS THROUGH MANTRA MEDITATION AS SEEN BY A PUPPY
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“Mantras” are phrases/prayers/aspirations that are a sort of mission statement. They encourage a person to identify with the good attributes that the mantra mentions. They work to familiarize the mind with what that mind wants to become. If any idea is continuously repeated in the mind, the person who is focusing on that idea will eventually absorb the qualities that it represents. Try putting a smile on your face and repeating “I’m happy” a few hundred times. You will be happier when you are done than you were before you started. On the other side of the coin, try watching the same TV program or commercial a thousand times—especially if it uses dizzying pace, shock, violence, fear, coercion, and various other subethical marketing techniques. Even if that commercial is selling something you wouldn’t ordinarily buy, you may soon find yourself a few dollars lighter with a belly or garage full of crap you don’t need.
A mantra is often repeated with the fingering of each bead as a person works his or her way around the hundred and eight bead rosary. Buddhists call the rosary a “mala.” Many faiths throughout history have also used rosary beads to count repetitions and focus concentration. These beads are helpful but not essential to practicing mantra.
There are many different mantras used within Buddhism. Each is usually associated with a deity. Deity means something different in Asian schools of thought than it does in Western religions. Asian deities are symbolic, archetypal representations of qualities and states of mind that we humans strive to increase within ourselves (as well as being reference points to more cosmic possibilities).
Deities are projections of psychological powers that are within each individual person. They are also cosmic, but their real place is within.
The most internationally recognized Buddhist mantra is probably “Om Mani Padme Hum,” the phrase relative to the Tibetan Deity of Compassion. There are many reasons for its popularity. One of them is the popularity and desperation of the Tibetan cause. The Dalai Lama and many Tibetans of similar spiritual brilliance have developed a lot of international support during the past fifty years. Everyone from Harvard to the ‘hood has become familiar with at least a bit of Tibetan culture. Another reason for the international popularity of this deity’s mantra is that everyone benefits from an increase in compassion and the wisdom it sponsors. But the main reason for the overwhelming popularity of this mantra is that all religious and spiritual systems worldwide are based on compassion, love, and kindness. This universal theme crosses all cultural boundaries and strikes a common chord with the main teachings of all the gods and prophets of every era and location. Without compassion, the mind is like mud. It is cloudy, and its true clear nature is hidden. Compassion makes understanding your mind much easier.
Many pictures and statues of the Tibetan deity of compassion somewhat resemble a human. Many other deities in Tibet and throughout Asia are much more unusual in physical form. There are, just to mention a few, a blue half-man/half-bird deity, a four armed crimson female deity with a bow and arrow, and a giant ferocious black creature about as large as the smiling, fat buddha seen in American Chinese restaurants.
When people repeat the phrases associated with these deities and picture their images, it isn’t for the purpose of asking, nor do many expect, a giant blue half-man/half-bird (just for an example) to come out of the heavens to give them protection, happiness, and mental stability. The purpose of repeating the mantra phrase over and over again is to absorb the positive qualities associated with that mantra, to become it. One works to absorb, embody, and manifest the qualities represented by the deity. In that way we become the power that is being invoked. Many Nuns and Monks put a lot of work into raising positive qualities within themselves by reciting mantras.
The half-man/half-bird symbol representing protection may be commonly accepted as a fairy tale, but the cumulative effect of internally repeating the mantra message of protection does train your mind to be vigilant against its own mismanagements and to recognize external obstacles before they become a danger. It is a very real and empowering process.
We become what we pay attention to. Focus on happiness, mental stability, and protection deeply enough and you will be happier, more stable, and more protected. When you become and own the qualities of the symbolic “god” or “goddess,” you will protect your thoughts as they arise. You will steer them toward being the best human thoughts they can be. This will often account for better decisions regarding your protection, happiness, and stability in the external world. Again, thoughts that are in conjunction with the deity representing them instill deified qualities in the human who is thinking them.
The world often cooperates with a benevolent point of view. Folks who associate themselves with the beneficial qualities represented by deities are happier and less afraid than most people. Such people are often concerned with the well being of others. Their own problems are lightweight.
Strengthened thought patterns will develop through the mental exercise. The consistent repetition of positive concepts can strengthen the mind just as efficiently as pushups can strengthen your arms.
Eventually, a person will become very keenly aware of the qualities he or she is trying to metabolize. This increase in awareness translates rapidly into the ability to avoid external as well as internal stumbling blocks. You will look both ways before crossing the street and when you do, you will see more in that same space than you ever did before. You will, whether consciously or subconsciously, set up the circumstances that will arrange the conditions that will engender the causes that will keep you and whomever you point good thought at happier, more stable, and more protected in various internal and external ways.
This is a real life functional scientific system, folks, and there are a lot of symbolic deities to choose from in order to reinforce any number of good qualities.
All these deities offer different roads to the same metaphysical place— that of being a distribution center, no matter how large or small, for universal altruism. This spiritual generosity is not related to sappy romanticism, dysfunctional addiction, or a suffocating attachment. This unbiased love, compassion, and generosity are practical applications of a human decency that may be the necessary missing ingredient to insure our survival.
A standard and very important point of procedure in Tibetan practices is to dedicate all time spent on this personal god-becoming (absorbing the positive qualities of the representative deity through mantra recitation) to the benefit of all living things. This dedicating is usually done at the end of the meditative session but many think it important to keep this point in mind during every single recitation of the mantra phrase. This reminds the practitioner that the effort is not just for little-brained selfish purposes. In effect, you are sending positive qualities out to the Universe with every mantra repetition, just as surely as you are absorbing them.
Unfortunately, a human mind is also capable of sending and absorbing anger, hatred, and stupidity. But human decency and compassion are so built into these practices that the system contains an automatic failsafe device. Karma is that failsafe device. Woe be to whoever would try to use any parts of this system for selfish gain at the expense of others. There’s something you won’t do twice! Ouch! Besides the pain that will be involved, you are guaranteed to not achieve your desired result. The old “you reap what you sow” expression holds very true here.
As good qualities are practiced and thought about, they grow and become magnetic. As you internalize qualities of compassion and protection in your mind, there will be more compassionate and protective circumstances, people, and things drawn to you. Like attracts like. As you practice giving it away, it comes back to you. Karma never fails here either! Whether a person’s actions are nice or nasty, he or she will always, in some form or another, eventually get a return in kind on their emotional investment. You don’t have to be religious to know that what goes around comes around. Most Agnostics and Atheists also know this to be a fact of life. Physics majors know it too. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
The proper spiritual mechanics in use of these mantras is essential. This is another good reason why all these practices are best done with the guidance of an educated, experienced, patient teacher who is very familiar with these processes.
The more we think of happy, strengthening, positive things, the more firmly that becomes the ground state, the normal condition, of our mind. Much of what Monks and Nuns do involves methods of programming themselves with repetitive thoughts of bliss and compassion. Similar practices in other, non-Buddhist spiritual traditions have been referred to as Bliss Programming. It works in more ways than you might expect. It works in more ways than we can even imagine. The process of continuously, repetitively focusing on something that becomes an integral part of your character can be as essential and basic as potty training. It can also be as dangerous as intimidating news programs, exaggerated advertising, and propaganda—or as constructive as bliss programming and mantras.
Once you do a lot of this repeating, and picturing, and absorbing, and becoming of a mantra/deity, you could say that your brain’s receiver is tuned to that frequency. Much like a radio, the mind/brain picks up and interacts with what it is tuned to. A chef is more likely to know where to find that ingredient the stew is missing than a guy who has hasn’t touched a stove since he moved one into his house. In the same way, a dedicated mantra practitioner would be more skillful at finding safe and peaceful solutions to problems than the average person. This is true whether those problems are between people or within that one person.
When you get so well tuned to the qualities of a deity that you have metabolized them and have actually become the embodiment of those qualities, something strange and wonderful happens. There’s a shift in your frame of reference. The more cosmic and esoteric information and connections can arrive at shift time and thereafter. You realize that you are not only attuned to the symbolic deity’s qualities but are also on the same wavelength as others who have pictured that deity and recited that mantra—as well as all those, of any culture, who have ever mustered that deity’s qualities within themselves—whether they have ever heard of that deity and mantra or not!
The Dalai Lama is Buddhist and Mother Teresa was Catholic. They were born on different sides of the world speaking different languages and with a totally different idea of what the word “deity” means, yet they have a lot more in common than most Christians do with each other or most Buddhists do with other Buddhists. They share a wavelength of decency that is far more potent than any of the differences between them. They have pictured the same essential ingredients and universal forces behind their differing symbols.
As the space between you and the deity diminishes, you may get the feeling that the space never existed. You would not be alone with that notion. That school of thought says that the practitioner and the deity are and have always been a unit, but the union was obscured by the mundane concerns that constantly run through our minds much of the time—budget, relationships, job, car, etc. These concerns need part time attention, but when given too much attention they can take up an entire life and blind us from seeing the bigger and better parts of ourselves. Michelangelo was well known for his belief that any sculpture he carved was already there within the rock. All he did, he said, was to chip away the excess.
Reciting mantras can do the same. It focuses the mind on a point, on a quality to be absorbed—a quality said to already exist within each living person. Any psychological excess housing information that is no longer useful or relevant is crowded out of existence by the more positive and useful information replacing it.
Once you get to know them better, the frightening and monstrous deities turn out to be just as compassionate as their smiling counterparts. Even the most ferocious and demonic looking deities and iconic creatures are doing such jobs as feasting on the flesh of anger and jealousy, or drinking the blood of attachment and ignorance.
Deity mantras provide transport to a bigger picture and a more inclusive frame of reference. A mindstream that causes problems, when properly nourished, repairs itself into a mindstream that can create monumental solutions. The human that has absorbed the qualities of a deity can unite with the amassed energy package that composes the metaphysical substance of that deity to produce an amazing creation. The awesome power of such a deified person’s mental integrity yields a strong command over his or her own less desirable qualities. That usually results in more productive dealings with external situations. When you are master of yourself, all things fall into place and become beneficial.
Is it crazy to think that picturing a deity representative of protection and compassion while reciting repeatedly something akin to “I am protected and a compassionate protector” can draw protection and compassion into actual functional existence? Isn’t a bridge, or a building, or a party, or a war just someone’s mental creation—an idea, a thought that we pour power, resources, and effort into and create in the physical realm? Don’t all human accomplishments and physical constructions start as a simple thought, emotion, visualization, idea, or conviction?
I’m the wrong person to ask. There’s a rumor around town that I’m crazy.
But I can tell you this. I have seen one of these amazing creations! It was a massive blue birdman that ate anger and stupidity. He protected me from both externally generated and self-inflicted bullshit. He told me that we had known each other for a very long time before we ever met.
Everyone sees through his or her own eyes. I describe things that have been triggered awake in me by severe personal circumstance and extended contact with robed people, but these are still my own perceptions. These are subjective views of personal experiences.
If you want authentic teachings, find an authentic teacher. I am not one. I am still just an adopted dog that is writing a book on paper towels and bar napkins with a ballpoint pen found in the road.
On the other hand, there are a few things I actually do know to be authentic.
* These deities have different characteristics, but do not have aberrant personalities. One won’t get pissed off and kick your ass if you hang out with another.
- The “mind” of all these symbolic deities is the same. They are various fingers on the single hand of love/kindness/compassion. The aim of each deity is to help people develop those qualities in the particular way that works best for that particular person, and eventually for that person’s interaction with all living things.
- What we might call esoteric, mysterious, and cosmic considerations can arise from these deity practices. Every individual has his or her own depth experience. Depth expands with time and intelligent practice. To have a mystical experience doesn’t necessarily mean that the experience isn’t grounded in science. It might mean that our knowledge of science is limited.
- These symbolic deities and the Wisdom Professionals who infuse those deities into their own lives know that there is no greater ally than a consistent focus on good intent. They know that “Pure love casts out fear,” and “Nothing holds us back but what we are thinking.” They also know that there is good reason why these phrases are famous to the point of being cliché.
Everyone reading these words knows that they are truer than whatever we choose to live by instead of them. The material facts may support the idea that our everyday grind is more important than those two clichés quoted above. Intelligent practice of mantras can help save us from the shortcomings of material facts. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, “The truth is more important than the facts.
Recognize and then habituate the single mental ground where we are united—and then sustain it. Habituating this present-tense awareness is meditation. Thoughts always come and go. But the mind that these thoughts come from is more eternal. It never comes and goes. It is always there. Don’t grab at or get attached to the temporary thoughts. Instead, be what never goes away. Be the clear mind that sees, observes, all the thoughts coming and then going. This awareness is the buddha within you. It is your real self, unclouded by reaction to either internal or external bullshit.
This piece is part of Reincarnation Through Common Sense, a book that, along with the book Fearless Puppy on American Road, is sponsoring Wisdom Professionals, beginning with Tibetan Nuns and Monks, with all of its profits. http://www.fearlesspuppy.info