A mantra is a sacred utterance which originates from the ancient Indian Vedas, the sacred writings on which Hinduism is based. These writings and the mantras which are chanted are written in the ancient holy language of the Hindus, Sanskrit. It is believed that chanting mantras gives us psychological and spiritual powers. Mantras are supposed to induce an elevated state of consciousness to the human brain.
History of Mantras
The first mantras were composed by Vedic scholars about 3,000 years ago. They formed the basis of all Hindu religious rituals and ceremonies. The training of a Brahmin, a learned person of the Hindu culture would be mainly composed of learning how to chant these mantras. Even today, every single religious ceremony is performed to the cadence of chanting of mantras. They have even found their way into other religions like Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.
The Power of Mantras
A mantra is a powerful tool for influencing the mindset as physical well-being of a person. If you chant a particular mantra in a particular way, you can alleviate your sorrows and you can achieve mukti (salvation). Mantras are designed to help us achieve dharma (religious righteousness and duty, artha, (meaning), kama (procreative universal truth and sensual satisfaction). The ultimate goal of chanting mantras is to help us achieve moksha (salvation from birth and rebirth). So, mantras are indeed very powerful and can add a new dimension to our lives.
The Meaning of Visualization
Let’s divert our discussion into a slightly different concept – visualization. By definition, visualization is the capacity to create mental images in the mind. The image could be a result of a tangible object or it could be an abstract concept or an idea.
The human brain is one of the most fascinating organs we possess. When we delve into the intellectual capabilities of the brain, there are infinite possibilities. So, when we talk about visualization, the brain is capable of conjuring up some really profound images. It is through the power of visualization that great minds like Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton came up with theories that changed the way the world looks at things forever.
With all this in mind, now imagine if we apply the power of visualization to the chanting of mantras. It is indeed deep stuff but it is a fascinating concept which opens up some exciting and powerful possibilities.
Visualization in Mantras
On their own, mantras are powerful tools for achieving self-realization and inner peace. But, if you add the dimension of visualization to chanting of mantras, that power gets enhanced to an entirely new level. This brings us to the concept of “intent”. Blindly chanting a mantra without any specific purpose in mind may not have any special influence. However, knowing the whys and the wherefores of a particular mantra adds more relevance to the activity.
Of Vocalization, Visualization and Manifestation
You can pick up a book and blindly read out aloud mantras that are written there. You are just producing sounds – vocalization, to be more specific. However, simply vocalizing does not complete the picture. We need to visualize while chanting mantras which then takes us to another dimension and a totally new manifestation of the self.
According to Lama Zangmo, a renowned Buddhist nun, we are already Buddhas (state of having attained Bodhi or wisdom) in our natural state. However, during the course of our day-to-day functions, we obscure it – we pollute it. So, when we talk about attaining purity, it already exists. It can be revealed through visualization.
According to Zangmo, while chanting mantras, one should practice Vajrayana, visual meditation. By practicing Vajrayana visualizations, we develop a pure outlook to all that surrounds us – all beings, of body, speech and mind. Vajrayana extends to all aspects of the environment in which we live.
Integrating Mantras with Visualization
So ultimately, we can conclude that blindly reciting mantras is not enough. We need to uncover the inner ‘Buddha nature’ that lies within our inner being. We end up reaching a stage of completion where we dissolve ourselves in what we visualize. If you are visualizing a deity, you dissolve that deity into yourself.
By visualizing while reciting mantras, we get a clear picture of the deity. This purifies our perception on outer appearances to see the deity as something real and solid. The power of visualization and mantras has to capacity to help you realize your true inner self.