Easwaran’s Talks & Writings

The Mantram Repeating Itself

By Eknath Easwaran

Naturally, skill at holding on to the mantram increases with practice. In the early days the mind is out of shape, and its flabby fingers won’t close tightly. The grip feels tentative, modest. In time, however, its fingers grow stronger and the mind can grasp firmly, though occasionally the mantram still slips away. After a long while, the mind builds up sensational strength and has a permanent hold on the mantram.

In this glorious state, the mantram repeats itself ceaselessly without any effort whatsoever. Walking along a road, waiting for a friend, dropping off to sleep, you will hear the mantram tolling through consciousness. If you’re fully absorbed in some activity — at a concert, for instance — the mantram repeats itself on a deeper level. Then, when the intermission begins the man­tram rises and resounds on the surface level as well.

Sanskrit has a precise word for this state: ajapajapam. Japam alone means the repetition of the mantram, and a here means “without”: ajapajapam is japam without having to do japam. You receive all the benefits without having to do the work. There is nothing magical or occult in this. It results from the steadfast practice of repeating the mantram at every possible moment for many, many years. This state may be likened to that of a person retiring from his career. For decades he has had to be at the office faithfully, and sometimes it may have taken a lot of effort. But now the harvest has been gathered — he draws a pension with­out having to report ever again.

At this stage, the mystics say, the Lord himself is present, pleased to utter his own name as a perpetual blessing on a devoted servant. Great waves of joy sweep through such a man or woman, and a divine radiance touches everything. Meister Eckhart spoke of this more than six hundred years ago:

Those who have God in mind, simply and solely God in all things, carry God with them into all their works and into all places, and God alone does all their works. They see nothing but God; nothing seems good to them but God. They become one with God in every thought. Just as no multiplicity can dissipate God, so nothing can dissipate them or make them multiple.

This excerpt is from Eknath Easwaran's book Passage Meditation.