A new method for both Rosa and I is mantra. Having both dabbled a little in the past, we recently took up mantra with a lot more conviction. Mantra is good for so many reasons – training the mind is arguably the biggest “practical benefit” – but beyond immediate benefits there is something special about the mantra we have found swimming in our minds of late.
Mantra, for me speaking personally now, is a devotional practice. Over the recent weeks, i’ve found myself drawn more so to the Hindu tales. Having learned a little about a few of the figures in Hinduism – Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Ganesha to name a few – I found myself drawn to the epic called the Ramayana. (The name translates roughly to “Rama’s Journey”). Of all the characters in the Ramayana, it is the lead of the story who continues to hold my attention.
Ram – or Rama as he’s sometimes called – as told in the Ramayana, was a beloved prince who was exiled from what would have been his kingdom to rule to live in the forest for 14 years. With the help of his loving brother Lakshman and his devotee Hanuman (as well as many others, including an army of monkeys) saved his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana before returning to his home to rule as king. The story is incredible and I do recommend looking into it if that piqued your interest at all.
The mantra Rosa and I have taken to chanting is a devotional chant which goes, “Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.” Sri is a title of respect one would give to a particularly noble or honourable individual or subject. Jai means “victory to”. So the chant roughly translate to Honourable Ram, victory to Ram, victory victory to Ram.” It is a way of showing humble and honest surrender to the energy which Ram anchored while on Earth. Not so much to the persona of Ram but to the overall energy. As the 7th avatar of the deity Vishnu (previous to none other than Krishna – who is in turn previous to the Buddha) the energy is very loving and honest, able to slice through injustice and prevail without losing virtue or compassion.
Yesterday, Rosa and I went to get permission to enter the United States. It was altogether a rather strange experience with all the police officers and forms. Neither are things I am ironically accustomed to. There was, however, in all the strangeness a beautiful thread of grace which knitted together all seemingly difficult, dispassionate, gruelling and worrying elements with a divine serenity and beauty. This grace showed us so many things in the hours we were traipsing around the city in an attempt to get these little pieces of paper which would permit our entry to America.
When it wasn’t looking good for my permission to be granted, Rosa and I sat in the offices and surrendered in prayer. Prayer is not something I’ve found common in my life, nor altogether that comfortable. Growing up an atheist/agnostic, I had only prayed when I wanted something and was faced with great emotional pain. I have now come to realise that these are not things to pray for. These are material things to be dealt with in the material world. It seems that prayer is nothing more than some sort of devotional surrender where one puts aside their perspective and grips loosely to their preferences in an opening to the divine. In so doing, grace is allowed to flow into ones experience unhindered.
Without this sort of surrender, prayer is simply another conversation with some idea of something – so far mixed up with form that the formless is barely noticeable. Formless is always and forever, of course. Yet when we clog our minds with so many thoughts and ideas and attachments then we cannot fully see the divine in all that is. Divine is always there – it is timeless, how could it not be? – yet one cannot see the divine when the mind is filled with forms clung to.
This prayer I’m speaking about here is not some sordid attempt to manipulate the sequence of cause and effect with righteous or misguided notions that the ideas in the head of one are superior to the divine grace and flow of all life. That would be silly. What’s the point then? Well, for two main reasons. 1) For emotional and mental peace – To let go of suffering and reveal again the part of us that is love. 2) As a practice of putting aside ones lesser aspects to honour the heart of all things. In short: “To know God.” Which is of course not a knowing of the mind nor an idea of God in the mind but that goes with out saying I feel.
In the end, all went well and there were many beautiful moments. The moment where I shook the hand of the woman who had refused to help us, looked her in the eyes and said, “Thank you for all you did.” knowing full-well that all she did was all she felt able to do regardless of her very strong persona. The moment where it seems I would be sent back to England, separated from Rosa and living in my Mum’s house again. The moment where we surrendered to any and all potential possibilities. The moment when we sat in the offices and prayed in a space of total surrender. The moment when a saint appeared to us in the form a kind and warm hearted police officer. And the moment when he chatted with us, laughed with us and finally gave us the visa waivers we were there for. (A side note, I am so filled with gratitude for that saint).
In our experience today, we learned several integral lessons:
- Remaining in devotional surrender during both good AND bad times in sometimes tricky but always worth it.
- Never do we create anything new nor do we control anything; we simply invite things to be as they are through surrender. Things are created but this is the redistribution of components. Form to create form is within the jurisdiction of form. Formless to manifest as form is within the jurisdiction of the formless – not mind or body or even soul. These are all forms and all form is subject to lawful unfolding.
- As part of God, if ones call is honest and pure (and surrendered rather than clinging) then it will be answered. Also that this is not to change the flow of things but to surrender to the flow of things in such a way that all malleable and uncertain form is moulded in which a way that things appear to unfold as per the preference of the individual. Surrender is secondary to initial preferences.
- God has a sense of humour.
- Ram is always there with his devotees when he is needed. If one is surrendered and humble, they will experience this first hand.
I hope this serves you well, thank you for reading. Thank us for being.
Live, love and play