The Difference the Mantram Makes

By Myron

Stories From Meditators

Myron shares how he has come to understand the mantram and meditation as truly powerful aids to overcoming unwanted habits within the family context.

Many of us have a family member, sometimes it is the whole family, that cause us serious agitation and all that goes with it – ill will, resentment, hostility, jealousy – and all of that coming from self-will (the desire to have one’s own way). I had been practicing and meditating some time, but this agitation at family gatherings was not going away and was quite frankly, a plague that I wanted to be rid of. Through meditation and practice of the eight point program my awareness of this problem had come into sharper focus; so I really wanted it to disappear.

My early tries at this were not successful. I would use my intellect to tell myself not to be agitated when my family gathered together for holidays; it took me some time to figure out the truth of Easwaran’s words, that a bad self-willed habit (a samskara, he calls it) cannot be controlled very well with the intellect; the intellect just gets steam rolled by the power of the habit. It was a lesson that I had to experience to really believe.

First Turning Point

One evening after the Tuesday night satsang in Petaluma, as we were closing the church, my friend Diana and I were discussing the video talk of Easwaran where he been exhorting us to practice, practice, practice. We both agreed: “we don’t practice enough.” So I set about changing this, and started spending hours with the mantram in the week or so before a family gathering. Standing at the kitchen sink, I would think about being at the gathering and repeat the mantram, 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and every time the mind went to thinking about family, throughout the day, more mantram. I also interspersed that with repeating the passage of Jesus that Easwaran liked, three to four verses, “judge not that you be not judged. . .” Day after day, as I sat down for meditation, I would remind myself of the desire to be rid of this self-willed problem, but nothing overt occurred during meditation, no distractions or insights of any sort ever came up. It was a matter of relying on Easwaran’s assurance that when we meditate, there are effects occurring deep in the unconscious that we are not aware of.

Moving Along to Succeeding

More family gatherings went on, sometimes minor agitation, sometimes major, but I was learning to use lots of mantram repetition the days before, and found that repetition was especially critical in the morning before we gathered – if I wanted to have it with me that day. This was an improvement, but not the thing I really wanted, to be free of this plague of self-will with family forever.

A Thanksgiving came; once again family was gathering. That week, that morning, I spent a lot of time with the mantram, and on the drive to the gathering, realized I was early, and stopped at a park, quiet and secluded, and did another half hour of meditation. When I got to the gathering, there were the usual greetings, a half dozen people were there, and nothing much else was happening, so I sat down on a chair and proceeded to take in the scene. Suddenly I heard a loud noise, and looked around quickly to see what that was; it took me a moment to realize it was the mantram going on by itself in my mind, and it was (so it seemed to me) really loud. I knew then that this thing, this self-will I had been fighting for a long while was gone, would be gone.

After Lessons

In the days after that there was no elation, no high emotion; rather, it was what Easwaran calls “a deep sense of wellness to mind and body alike.” I also realized it was incorrect to say it was a victory, which would only feed my ego and let me think “I am the doer.” It was the grace of our teacher that this happened to me, but Easwaran is quick to point out that grace is received only after strenuous effort on our part. In this struggle of mine, against self-will, the power of the mantram had become 51%, just a little more power than the power of the self-willed habit. It is like chopping down a weed patch, the weeds have been beaten, but not pulled up by the roots, meaning they can, with a little forgetfulness by us, regrow, and become a vibrant weed patch once more. That has meant more work, and continuous work with meditation and the mantram to stay there; I never take it for granted I cannot slip back into old resentments at any family gathering. But now I know the power of meditation and the mantram.

Myron volunteering in the garden at BMCM Headquarters.