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.
I've never practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM). But for over forty years I've meditated daily, mostly using a mantra (a word or words repeated over and over) just as TM does.
...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?
Something else of some interest!
Posted by: Robert Searle | October 21, 2015 at 04:27 AM
"Interestingly, even the spiritual guru is expected at the wedding."
Posted by: Jen | October 21, 2015 at 01:37 PM
Prior to finding this blog a few weeks ago, I only knew of you from your book "God's Whisper, Creation's Thunder," in which you confidently claim that experimentation in "spiritual science" is just as valid a way of exploring reality as experimentation in physical science.
In light of this post and its links, however, it seems that your diligent spiritual science experimentation in the decades since you wrote GWCT has yielded, well, pretty much nothing at all really, and I'm therefore wondering whether you now think that your valorization of spiritual science in GWCT (which I very much enjoyed reading btw) was somewhat overstated.
Posted by: John Hannon | October 22, 2015 at 03:38 AM
God and Sunshine is an apples and pears comparison
Sunshine you can know partly
God you don't
So, . . how to love a phenomenon you don't know at all
You can see the words as giving a little flute ( perfectly tuned ) and let it try to play with the great best ever orchestra of the planet
The child will certainly grep the meaning of vibrations each day somewhat more
This grows so exponentially that the love for the donor of that flute
But if you despise the maker this can not work
Posted by: 777 | October 23, 2015 at 03:18 AM
Just prior to seeing this post, I was meditating. I have been using a variety of "non-directive" meditation approaches learned from web sources. All are inspired by TM, but are much cheaper and don't require membership in a cult. Some, like NSR, use mantras. (David Spector, who is NSR's head honcho in the US, posted comments on one your earlier mantra posts, and you and he had an extensive exchange.) Some like CMR, don't use mantras. (CMR is a non-directive technique that uses a "comfort zone" as a vehicle, anchor, or whatever for awareness when one becomes caught up in thoughts.) The non-directive nature of these techniques seems to involve three aspects: An allowing attitude toward thoughts; a gentle, easy, non-judgmental return to the anchor or vehicle at whatever sharpness or dullness the anchor reappears with, when one recognizes that one has been caught up in thoughts to some extent or other; and (here is the key) an effortless awareness (of the mantra or at least the fact of meditation). You don't try to hear the mantra or repeat it to yourself. You let it come to you and allow it to become a subtle thought, to change, or to disappear altogether as "it" chooses. (The last aspect is what I suspect David Spector had in mind when, in his comments on another of your mantra posts, he said that you were not practicing a mantra technique in the way prescribed by TM or NSR.) In any event, regardless of the differences in techniques, all of the non-directive techniques seem to be built on some notion of transcending, although whereas NSR emphasizes this, CMR doesn't. Despite taking an effortless approach and following the written and/or recorded directions, I have never experienced the blissful experience of transcendence described by Spector and others. That's okay. I don't dwell on it because my goal is a little peace and relaxation once or twice a day. Anyway, right before I saw your post, I sat down to do a CMR session, and as I got into it, I spontaneously started using my breath as a vehicle and anchor. I didn't focus on my breath, or try to notice its subtleties. I simply lightly and easily returned to just an easy awareness of the gross feeling of breathing whenever I realized I was actually thinking actively, and then I let the awareness of the breath fade away, allowing myself to experience whatever, including thoughts, and returning to my breath only upon realizing that I was actively thinking. The meditation was quite enjoyable and relaxing, and I still feel pretty good. I didn't get spacey, experience a transcendental moment, or have any super special insights. I just enjoyed it. Will I do the same meditation again? I hope so, but I do believe in non-directionality enough not to force the approach or to try to reproduce the experience. Afterwards, again, before seeing your blog on the uselessness of mantras--which I really think is a blog about the uselessness of the very notion of transcending--I noted in my daily journal (where I record my workouts, meditation sessions, and number of beers per day)--that the approach of that meditation may have been too bodily for transcending, but I never transcend anyway, and the point is to relax in my body, not transcend to some pseudo-plane. Then I saw your blog post, and thought, "Yup."
Posted by: Adam C. Sloane | October 25, 2015 at 09:29 AM
"Currently, I still enjoy simply being aware of what is right around me -- both inside and outside of me."
You got it Brian.
I'm enjoying Tom Campbell (physicist, consciousness researcher) videos at the moment.
"Meditation, being aware of your consciousness is more natural than breathing. What you have to do is get out of the way of it. Its not that you have to do something special to meditate, what you have to do is get yourself out of the way and let yourself be in that larger awareness space... thats just natural to you, thats where you should live all the time. So its all about what you have to stop doing. So meditation is about NOT doing, not about doing, its not another technique to learn with your intellect to force yourself to be in a meditation state... That meditation state is just you, your consciousness. Thats where you live, thats where you belong and all you have to do is get out of the way and you can be there."
Posted by: Jen | November 19, 2015 at 06:42 PM
great, NO words are needed, just be still and then.........................
Posted by: rich | May 08, 2022 at 02:09 AM