First off, tonight I had another circular moment when I decided to search Google for "mantra meditation useless," the topic that I wanted to blog about.
This has happened to me before when I've asked the Great God Google to enlighten me on some subject. I do a search, then find that some of my own Church of the Churchless posts are the top results.
So I turn out to be the answer to the question that I asked myself.
In this case, Google led me to my "Meditation is useless" and "Skeptical look at mantras and Transcendental Meditation" posts.
From the second post, I was sort of surprised to find that over three years ago I'd come to the same conclusion that has more firmly settled into my meditating mind now.
This is some of what I said back in 2012.
...For most of those forty years I used a mantra taught by a Sant Mat organization, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, that was known as the Five Holy Names. The mantra bore some resemblance to the ones used by the Transcendental Meditation folks.
...I've come to much the same concluson as Sudarsha has: following the breath mindfully is a better meditation approach than is repeating a mantra mindlessly.
...Why would you repeat a mantra in your mind when your goal is to be aware of what exists in what I like to call really real reality?
It'd be ridiculous to remain focused on mentally repeating sex, sex, sex, sex, sex when a beautiful willing partner is lying next to you on a bed, arms outstretched for your embrace.
Likewise, it'd be ridiculous to keep saying sunset, sunset, sunset, sunset, sunset as the REAL sun is dipping below the horizon, displaying gorgeous colors across the sky.
And even if your aim is religious, does it make any sense to utter God, God, God, God, God (or other supposed names of divinity) instead of being receptively open to whatever divine presence might be capable of being experienced at the moment?
Occasionally I still use a mantra, but more and more it seems pointless to speak repeated words inside my head. Life is going on all the time I'm awake and aware; experience is happening all the time I'm awake and aware.
A mantra now seems like an unnecessary distraction from life and experience. When I'm ballroom dancing, I don't think to myself dance, dance, dance, dance, dance. I just dance.
I was planning to say something new about why mantra meditation strikes me as useless. But re-reading what I said before, there isn't much that I want to add to it.
Currently, I still enjoy simply being aware of what is right around me -- both inside and outside of me.
Breathing. Sounds. Sensations. Thoughts. Feelings.
Once in a while I revert to repeating some sort of mantra, but I don't keep that up for very long. It just seems boring to repeat a sound or word inside my head. Why do this when the world is continually "repeating" something much more interesting?