Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Problems With Mantras

There are so very many things that should be, and need to be addressed concerning this website, but I'd like to take this opportunity to focus on certain things they say concerning mantras. Even within this article there is much that needs to be addressed, but I'm going to focus on one idea right now.

A man vowed that he would do one hour of spiritual practice every day. It wasn't long before he went to his spiritual adviser to admit that he'd failed. He was just so busy! In the morning, he had to exercise, read the newspaper, and get the kids off to school. He was always pressured at work, and in the evening he had chores or shopping to do. Then he just wanted to relax with his wife and family. He couldn't find an hour for prayer. "What should I do?" he asked his teacher. The reply: "Two hours a day."

Sound impossible? Most of us would have trouble carving out two hours a day for prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, or service. But you don't have to be like the man in the story, defeated and resigned to failure. Instead, you can do a spiritual practice that can be easily integrated into the daily rounds of your life.

The mantra method of prayer is one such practice. A simple phrase is repeated silently as you go about your regular activities. The mantra becomes a constant companion, reminding you of your steadfast relationship with God and helping you navigate all the distractions your mind and heart may be prone to. By using a mantra, you can tap into and even expand your inner resources of patience, strength, and faithfulness.


The key to mantra practice is repetition, and you should repeat your word or phrase as often as possible. There are an amazing number of opportunities for this prayer practice during a day: while standing in the elevator, brushing your teeth, watching a page load on your computer, sitting on the bus, making the bed, petting your cat. All the times you have to wait — in doctor's offices, for the TV show to begin, at the checkout counter — can be regarded as practice periods. Two minutes here and five minutes there can easily add up to one or two hours of spiritual practice a day.

One of the first things I notice is that this type of "prayer" goes about trying to create peace even when the person saying the prayer refuses to be still and go to God. They want to squeeze God into their spare time. Now, I've got no issues with praying when you're busy, I pray on the move all the time. I understand that, but I generally still find it is important to make that quiet time as well. If you just go running around talking to God all day long, when is He supposed to answer you?

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalms 46:10)

Problem number two is that these people aren't praying, they're repeating one thing over and over and over. It's like fooling yourself into something. If you tell yourself you're warm over and over in the middle of the winter, if you really want to believe what you're telling yourself you may experience some type of warmth...Even while your fingers are developing a nasty case of frost bite. Just because you may feel like you are experiencing peace doesn't mean you are experiencing God's piece.

On top of this fact is the simple point that it goes entirely against Scripture.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)

It seems this is another case of us reversing the roles. We place man in the center of the universe and expect God's life to revolve around us. When we have time for Him then He'll get attention, when we need something then we'll talk to Him. But is this how life is supposed to be? Is God really supposed to sit around and hold His breath hoping we'll just glance His way? It seems a bit junior high-ish. God is a love sick school boy in this model and we're that ultra cool kid who only glances His way when we need Him to write our term papers for us. God is not God in this model but something we bring into our lives on a whim. We fit Him into our schedules rather than turning our lives over to Him.

It's a sad, sad immitation for what a relationship with God is supposed to look like. And what is even more sad is the fact that people think this is perfectly normal and acceptable and refuse to really look at, and re-evaluate, their relationship with God. When doing mantras I think it is safe to say you're not speaking to God, heck you're not even talking at God. You're just talking to yourself, giving yourself a placebo to fool yourself into thinking you've got a relationship with God when every aspect of your life would indicate otherwise.

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