Monday, March 9, 2009

Increasing Our Spiritual Wattage

I offer Sanskrit mantras in our Circle Classes. A mantra allows the chakras to "switch on" safely and to operate at a higher "wattage." By doing a mantra for a specific reason, we increase the ability of the chakras to hold a spiritual charge. It is as if a 25-watt bulb becomes able to hold 50 watts, then 100 watts, 500 watts, 1000 watts. The power comes from the vibrational effect they create when they are pronounced repeatedly. As mantra stimulates and energizes the chakras, allowing them to take in and send out more energy to the subtle body and the physical body, there is yet another effect that is taking place: karma is being burned off.

The vibration produced by chanting mantra begins to alter our inner condition, both physically and spiritually, and to break down energy patterns stored in the subtle body. These can be anything from subconscious habits or predispositions to karmic potential for mishap. It can be causes that we created this lifetime and possibly burn off karma from past lifetimes.

Modern scholars and Vedic priests differ about the age of mantra writings. The earliest hymns and mantras contained in the Rig Veda are traditionally considered to date back to 1500 B.C.E. and possibly even to before 4000 B.C.E. Even though Sanskrit is no longer spoken, many Western languages can trace their roots to Sanskrit, which dictionaries often classify as Indo-European. Our lives are filled with sounds of all kinds, and our responses to those sounds help create who we are from moment to moment and from year to year. Throughout history, the power of sound has been recognized, celebrated and investigated. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who developed basic principles in mathematics and astronomy, was also one of the earliest investigators of the physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of sound.

Sound developed during the Renaissance and the power of poetry and more recently through music's well-documented effects in Peter Tompkins book, The Secret Life of Plants. Actually, the chanting human voice is the world's oldest musical instrument. Chant traditions span the centuries and are steeped in ritual and sacred ceremony. The indigenous peoples are well known for their chants. Some indigenous peoples are willing to share their secrets with outsiders. Native Americans have used chants to call on the twenty-eight different powers, whether in a life-or-death crisis or the activities of daily life. In Christianity we have the chants that are part of the Roman Catholic Mass, the daily devotional services sung by monks, and Gregorian chants. My family has an interest in Kabbalistic chanting. The similarities between jewish Kabbalistic thought and Vedic thought are quite remarkable. As H.P. Blavatsky writes in The Secret Doctrine, "In Sanskrit, as in Hebrew, every letter has its occult meaning and its rationale; every letter is a cause and an effect of a preceding cause. These linkages very often produce the most magical effect the vowels, especially, contain the most occult and formidable potencies." In the days ahead, I will share the traditions of chant and how they are characterized by a deeply felt spirituality and a belief in the power of sacred sound to create change in our everyday lives.