Musings by Veronica
OM. The vibrational expression of universal energy. We say that it represents the entirety of experience- beginning, sustaining, dissolving- and it makes us aware of silence. It can also be said that OM encompasses the three states of consciousness- waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the fourth state, kaivalya (liberation). All states and all experience emanate from one Source. The momentum of that emanation, as it interacts with itself and takes on form, is what we call vibration and how we resonate with that fundamental vibration is through OM. It's said that the only mantra you need is OM because it is the original mantra and it encompasses all of the others. Anything that you could think or wish or imagine is already held within the vibration of OM. When we chant or meditate with a mantra, we are essentially calling to us an aspect of the vibrational energy within OM. The words give that energy form, but what "activates" this energy is not the words, but the voice that speaks them (or the mind that thinks them). Our voice and our intentional thoughts are powerful because they are the means by which we energize vibration through us and affect the vibrational energies around us. The mastery of subtle energy, especially the voice and thought, is one of the gifts of Saraswati.
Saraswati is often described as emerging from the Void, riding on a swan, along with the emanation of OM. She arrives in Creation because Brahma, the God of Creation, made too many things that had no meaning with each other. His action (his Creation) was without purpose and without organization. It was not intentional and this created imbalance, suffering. To correct this "unintentional" use of prana, Saraswati emerges and creates the flow of interaction and relationship within the world. She makes meaningful connections between beings and ensures that all beings have the opportunity to thrive. The world is set up for everyone's success. Brahma then begins to make more rigid structures within the world, rules and rituals, as the basis for civilization and society. The benefits of these things are undeniable, but we can clearly see that the rigidity that can be cultivated through rules can have very negative effects on individuals and groups. It's hard to say exactly what Brahma's aims are, but it is frequently said that Brahma has a problem with his ego being too involved in his work. He also frequently allows situations to become out of control by indulging beings that seek his favor. We're talking about many, many stories where yogis have done powerful practices specifically to get Brahma's attention so He will grant them a boon. Nine times out of ten those boons result in the creation of a demon that then terrorizes the world until a hero, or the Goddess Herself, appears to bring back balance. It appears in those situations that Brahma is either unaware of the potential disruption those exchanges will cause for the world, or He is too invested in his own rules to change how those interactions occur. Either way, in Him we see how much imbalance and suffering can be caused when we are unintentional or careless with our actions and when we allow the ego to run the show unchecked. Like Brahma, we can easily fall into the habit of unintentional living. Most of us have lived that way most of our lives. We have unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) been the creators and perpetuators of our suffering. And we are waiting for someone to come and set things right.
Saraswati is the counterpoint to Brahma. I say counterpoint instead of consort because their personal drama ends with them divorced. But Saraswati is the feminine expression of that same creative energy that is Brahma in the masculine. They are different aspects of the same expression, the same universal concept. But where Brahma is interested in forms, structure, hierarchy, and rules, Saraswati is interested in flow, transformation, liberation, creative expression, and Truth (as the only "rules" needed). Saraswati carries that energy of the formless Void with Her and so can never be truly caught up in forms. Her only nod to the ego is that She does become involved with her work or studies to the point of forgetting everything else. And She is said to be a little competitive, a little jealous. (I wonder, however, if this trait is indication of a connection to the gunas- also linked to the states of consciousness and particularly to the activity of our minds. A rajasic mind might appear to be jealous. But this is a musing for another day). While our minds are foggy or lost in daydream or stuck in patterns of unhappiness and suffering, we will most likely be very unaware and/or uninterested in what our actions may mean for the world around us. It is from this state that we "wake up" from through spiritual practice and one of the most profound ways to begin to activate the higher qualities of the mind is through mantra. Saraswati helps our minds to connect deeply to the essence of the mantra and empowers our voice to make the mantra a living reality for us. In this way She "saves" us from the prison of our own minds.
The world can be a heavy place. Our minds are trained every day to pay attention to certain things and to ignore others, to keep up certain habits and not question why we do so. Our minds are overwhelmed and disorganized and our emotions are often out of control. We are constantly making those wishes that backfire on us even as they are granted. When we sit to meditate it is like the moment you realize that you cannot escape from your own mind without help. We use mantra like life preservers (mantra means "protection for the mind") and often cling to the words hoping that if we say the right thing in the right way we will be saved. Every mantra is a calling out, but not like a wish. When you repeat a mantra you are calling on that universal energy that flows in the form of the mantra's fruition. Mantras are not worded as suggestions, but as requests for all of the subtle energies within us and around us to resonate with the mantra's vibrational form. It is a all for reality to reorganize itself so that the mantra is a living Truth in the world. Think about your favorite mantra. Maybe it is Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu- May all beings be happy, be at peace, and be free from suffering. Who is going to accomplish this? We don't chant to convince someone somewhere to make this happen. We chant to call this reality into being. May it be True that all beings experience happiness, that all beings find peace, that all beings become free from suffering. And let our energies be part of that Truth, may it live through us in all ways. The words you say of a mantra are just words until the intention you feel behind the words is heartfelt and deep. You have to want to rearrange reality, not for the ego (although an empowered mantra for personal gain will certainly create results), but for the benefit of all beings because we are from the same Source. Your suffering is my suffering and your liberation is also mine. This doesn't mean that if you have not put intense energy behind your mantras that you have been chanting wrong. Far from it. Any relationship with mantra helps to reorganize our minds and creates more intentional living. Keep chanting.
Mantras are living energy- the older they are and the more people who chant them, the more potent that energy becomes. Why? Because it is the pranic energy of intention that accumulates through the words. And when the words move through your mind and your voice you activate that energy within you. Your prana is now united with the prana of all others who share the same desire, who are affirming the same Truth. You are engaged in collective consciousness reorganizing reality. Sometimes this is described as being caught in the flow of the mantra. In meditation practice, the mantra may seem to begin to repeat itself, and eventually "you" (the ego) disappear and there is only the mantra, only that vibrational link back to the original Source. All mantras emanate from OM and through OM all states of consciousness can be transcended. So if you aren't sure what to chant, which words to use, which idea to reach for, just chant the sound of OM. Not once, but over and over again. Chant it so much that it becomes a constant sound in the back of your mind. And into that chanting pour the contents of your heart so that they can be empowered and the truest desires you have, your truest aspirations, can be fulfilled. Reorganize your reality.
OM shanti, shanti, shanti