Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mantras don't work?

Referring to the above news article which also appeared in The Star newspaper under the headline, “Mantras doesn’t work for all”. I would like to say that those positive statement mantras mentioned in the articles are seriously not genuine spiritual mantras. Spiritual mantras do not work in the same way as repeating positive statements.

Spiritual mantras do work for everyone. However, you need diligence and skill in practicing the mantras and perhaps, some faith and karmic situation too. I am reminded of my own experience with mantras and how it had worked for more than once. I think in one of my previous blog post, I did mention a time when I recited the “Heart Sutra mantra” (i.e. Tayatha Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha) and lo-and-behold my magnetic Sai Baba picture stucked on a normal, smooth surface granite wall. There was nothing made of iron that the magnet had held on to. It stucked there for a few minutes before it dropped. So, that was one case of a mantra that worked, …or was that due to Sai Baba? I don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t matter to me. What matters was that something extraordinary had happened and I was the witness to it. I have other tales to tell which I can attribute it directly to Sai Baba, and not due to trickery (because Sai Baba was not anywhere around me at all). So I have total faith that Sai Baba is genuine. But that is for another blog post. Not this one.

Another mantra that worked some “magic” was when I started to memorise the Great Compasssion Mantra (the version often recited by the Chinese Mahayana tradition). I had learned that from Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, who is also my Buddhist master. The moment I recited the very first sentence of the long mantra, i.e. Namo Ratnatrayaya (the translation in Sanskrit of the actual chinese version that I was memorising), and I closed my eyes to memorise it better and listened to the sound. At that moment, lo-and-behold there in front of my eyes there was Kuan Yin (i.e. Avalokiteshavara, sitting version with a vase and plant in hand such as in the picture above). It was not a flesh and blood Kuan Yin like you see you, me and everyone else. It’s just something that appears to the “inner eye” like how Tibetan deity yoga methods where you are supposed to visualize the deity in the form of light. It’s something like that. When I opened my eyes, she is not there, but when I closed them, there she was again. I then put my palms together. It lasted for a few minutes as well, and it happened while I was in school (in between classes I think). So I have totaled faith in the power of the Great Compassion Mantra. Do you think this was only due to my imaginations running wild? You are certainly entitled to say what you like, but I saw what I saw. And even if it was a hallucination, it's okay. A question would then arise: then why doesn't the hallucination arises everyday? Why is it that I don't see the "hallucination" thereafter again? I am sure you are also capable of hallucination, why don't you see Kuan Yin?

The third case happened during my undergraduate days. One of my program mates had fallen ill and was taken to the nearest sub-urban government clinic. He had severe pains in his abdomen and he was twisting and turning. Our lecturer had told us there will be quiz on that day, and that means marks will be given and will form part of the accumulated assignment marks for the course taken. Out of compassion for him I agreed to follow him to the clinic and take care of him even though he was not really close to me. His other closer friends somehow chose the quiz marks over their friends. So, I was the “stupid one” who chose to forego my marks. LOL!

Anyway, the doctor checked and did not understand what his sudden illness was. It was not appendicitis, nor gastritis. Not food poisoning either. He gave him some pain killers. But it’s of not much help. Hours later the drug would have taken effect, but my friend was still wriggling in pain on the clinic bed. I was made to understand that the doctor had scheduled an operation or endoscopy (or some other tests or something) the next day. In the meantime, he was just told to rest. Later in the afternoon, when the pain was so severe, and he was still struggling in pain and the doctor was no where around, spontaneously I recited some mantras and put my hand on the part that was in pain. I was alone with him at that time. I did various mantras for him but mostly was the Great Compassion Mantra. Even though I was not seriously a vajrayana practitioner yet at that time, I had learned about visualization and all that from my readings and some teachings I had heard. So, I visualized myself intensely as Kuan Yin and visualized myself “sucking” all the pain from his abdomen. Actually I alternated my visualization as Kuan Yin, Sai Baba, Master Hsuan Hua and Buddha I think. If you have seen someone in pain and struggling in front of you, you will know what it’s like. If you are in that situation, you just want to help. And that’s the best I can do. If that does not ease his pain, I am sorry. There’s nothing more I can do. After all, I am not a Buddha. In fact, even the Buddha cannot ease everyone’s pain without a collaborative karma involved. But the good news was that the pain in my friend started to ease after that. The pain was all gone in the evening and he could sleep better. Then I took a night bus back to the campus. I really do not know whether it was attributed to the mantras I recited or other factors, but it also surprised the doctor. The next morning, the doctor said there was no need to do anymore tests and my friend was fully recovered. He was discharged. The doctor wasn’t sure what healed the pain but could only speculate the pain was due to attack by bacteria. So, did the Great Compassion Mantra heal my friend? I leave that to you. Anyway, after that incident, that friend called me a "wei da" person. Me - a great being? Let me tell you who is a great being. It is the Buddha.

Bottom line is, spiritual mantras do work. If it can work for an ordinary guy like me, it surely can work for you too. They do work all the time, but only problem is, there could be obstacles (i.e. karma) to prevent you from receiving its full benefits. Oh,… by the way, I found out the next day that the lecturer decided the quiz she had given will not be accounted for in the course marks. So, I did not miss anything at all. Surely, this is blessings from Buddha. Even though I am telling you this story, but sincerely, I have to admit that I am and was not compassionate all the time. At times, I have been selfish too. I sincerely apologise for that. However, regardless of my actions, we all can learn to be more compassionate in our actions. Perhaps, that’s the way to make mantras work – i.e. more compassion and sincerity in our hearts.

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