My Secret Mantra

Let me share a story from decades ago when I learned a secret mantra!

The Meditation Center, Mpls

The Meditation Center, Mpls

As I explained in this post, I trained for two years at a Yoga Center in Minneapolis (now called “The Meditation Center”). After my first year, my progress had qualified me for initiation and without initiation, further training as a potential Raja yoga teacher (my track) was not allowed. Initiation was considered an honor. In the private initiation session, the teacher would whisper your secret Mantra to you, one you’d use in years to come as you strive for higher states of consciousness.

I was, as always in all my religious years, both excited and skeptical. What would this secret mantra be? Would it be all it was cracked up to be? How could it be any more than just some random Sanskrit word?

The magic, we were told, was two fold:  (1) The guru picks the words to specially match our temperament, our spiritual needs and the energy of our chakras. (2) Sanskrit is a sacred language and indeed, the sounds themselves carry a power that we can’t imagine. We were to have faith.

Dr. Arya, my  guru

Dr. Arya, my guru

I dressed well and bought some flowers and fruit as traditional gifts to my guru. I sat in meditation in a room by myself until I was called to meet my teacher.

The guru and I meditated together a short while and then he came to my ear and whispered my three secret, personal magic words — my ticket to the divine.

I worked with those words for several months. Hell, they were just words, no magic. Embarrassingly, I forget what they were: OM HRIM HUM, or something like that. Oh yeah, besides, you are suppose to never tell anyone your secret words.

The huge cognitive investment of time and money on courses, of bowing and presenting flowers to my teacher and of practicing with faith for months were not enough to help me hallucinate the magic. Sure meditation had fantastic affects of quietness and the ability to watch my mind, but no “higher consciousness”, no seeing the world as it really is. Yet I kept my disillusionment private and it would not be for several more months before I left the group.


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Filed under Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “My Secret Mantra

  1. Interesting personal story. My former guru/teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda “initiated” his students too. However, I did not get my own “personal” mantra. All Yogananda’s students who wanted to be initiated, had various spiritual tracks (or levels of teaching) to progress through. During each phase or track I was given a “mantra” for a specific meditation technique. The “techniques”, as we called them, each had an associated Sanskrit word mentally repeated during meditation practice.

    Today, when I practice these meditation techniques I don’t use the Sanskrit words (nor do I hold any of the supernatural ideas about them) and I find that I experience the same “states” as I did when practicing the same techniques with the Sanskrit mantra.

    Thanks for relating your story.

  2. Just a thought, your story sounds perfectly logical to me, but maybe your conception of what you were searching for is not what actually is… So it might be like looking for a blue egg in a room, if there was every other color egg you could search for years and conclude that the “right” egg didn’t exist, but in reality you were just looking for the wrong color egg. Or, maybe the egg was microscopic and you didn’t have the right abilities or tools to see it yet. Some would give up the search and say the egg must not exist, others would keep searching (some would make up some crazy story that blue was translated as green originally, so its really the green eggs that were being looked for, and were in abundance). And here’s the thing, for each person those decisions might be the best decision for them personally for where they are on their path.

  3. @ Eric CE
    Ah, I see you changed your handle — good choice! I much prefer real (even if pseudo-real) names.
    So, “eggs”! Analogy arguments are the favorites of religious folks. I try to stay away from them because of all the problems that comes with trying to debate using metaphors.

    So, are you saying:
    (1) Maybe the Mantra would have been useful but you were looking for the wrong results.
    (2) You were seeking for God in Yoga, but really, God is better found in Christianity.
    (3) Scrambled eggs are always the answer

  4. Yes, actually I changed it just for you. I have to use pseudo-real because like you I have a professional life outside of all of this stuff and need to keep them semi separate when clients search for me. I haven’t been back to your site since our last conversation, but seeing your comment on David’s post prompted me to stop by.

    To your options about what I am saying, I would say 1 is the closest (definitely not 2 or 3), But certainly not that black and white, and not even wholly directed at you. Maybe someone else’s set of aptitudes, attitudes, and circumstances could have benefited from that exercise, although still certainly only an imperfect and incomplete method of growth like every other.

  5. I went to see a guru, and I got a mantra. I don’t chant the mantra every day, but in going to see the guru, I experienced something that was very similar to my out of body experience. The words to describe it may be a little fluffy or vague, but when I got within 50 feet of her, I expected to feel emotional, but I did not. I felt peace. It felt as if everything were perfect and right. Of course, I did not have that same light feeling as when I was floating above my body in the ER, but I think it is as close as I can come without being damn near dead. There is something to that practice, but I don’t think that following a guru is for me.

  6. Fascinating, thanx for sharing redsoprano!

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