Some of us are breaking the ice literally these days, so I thought why not do it figuratively on this blog?
We are aware of the usage and utility of “mantra” (sacred formula or phrase) in spirituality. Technically mantra means “manaḥ trāyate iti” (“that which frees the mind”). Therefore, although mantra is usually associated with a deity in the path of devotion, the common phrases used in the path of discernment: “I am not the body/mind” or in positive sense, “I am the Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Absolute,” etc., could also be called mantra.
While the repetition of mantra definitely has its utility , it is so abstract that it doesn’t sink in that deeply in our mind in the initial the stages of its usage. Also, some of these mantras have been overused to appear as cliché with no special impact on the one who practices it. So while the repetition of mantra, along with corresponding feelings to generate devotion to the deity or dispassion for the objects of this world, should be done, one could also look for a more detailed simple mantra that would have a direct impact on one’s mind.
Some of the mantras that are used in common parlance can be used in the method of discernment:
1. “I don’t care”: This mantra should be used judiciously. Situations such as conflict of opinion with others (say, “who is the best football player”?), events in the world that have no direct bearing on oneself (say, “a celebrity died”), or pickiness about food, clothes, choice of seat on flights etc. should all be ignored, as they do not have any impact on our spiritual progress besides attempting to go beyond one’s likes and dislikes. Nurturing this “I don’t care” attitude towards events or people or things of not much concern to us is beneficial in spirituality.
2. “I don’t want anyone or anything”: Repeat this often to remind oneself that no thing or no person in this world, however emotionally close or important he/she/it could be, is necessary for us. The moment we feel someone or something is needed for our well-being, we make ourselves that much weaker or dependent on that person/thing. We must note that the spiritual teacher or scriptures are relatively important, but ultimately each one is on his/her own.
3. “No one or nothing in this world can make me weak”: This is a similar phrase to the one mentioned above in point 2 but is useful in the aftermath of the unsuccessful attempt in application of the second mantra given above. The situation is such that the object of desire has already been brought deep into our mind and we are feeling weakened by it.
4. “Nothing is permanent”: No person, object, feelings like elation or sorrow, our position in office or society etc. is permanent: constantly this must be thought of.
I’m sure there are similar suitable mantras that one could develop for one’s own benefit.