Every morning I put on clean pants,
Then I sit down to do my chants.
After, I’m prettier; is it Green Tara?
Or is it because I’ve put on mascara?
Chanting mantras has brought me to the realisation that subject and object are one and therefore there is nothing to fear. I face difficulties at times but all goes so much better than before. Somehow, I have a better idea of what to do and have become more effective at doing it. Including, as you can see, writing poetry…
There is something delightful and funny about the fact that all is one. We beaver around in our lives, busying ourselves with the business of being us, saying things like ‘Well, that’s how it is for me’ and ‘That’s just the way I am’ and ‘I suppose I’m quite insert adjective here really’.
This championing of self-hood is deeply political.
Notions of gender and independence, economic power and equality are really important for women. We have been encouraged to think for ourselves, to have a sense of identity that goes beyond partnership and motherhood, and our lives are in very many ways the better for it. But is self-hood all it’s cracked up to be?
If we’re depressed we might seek counselling, therapy or healing. We’ll pay someone to listen to us, respond to us, explore ourselves with us, be there for us, support us, affirm us, hold us, hopefully challenge us. It’s all about us. It’s all about me. The fact that all is one means that there is, essentially, no me. Or, if there is, there are billions (the entire human species, right now) of me’s. If there is no me then there is also no you. Or, if there is, there are billions (the entire human species, right now) of you’s. We are all me and we are all you, depending on whose perspective we’re viewing things from – and no single perspective is any more or less true than any other. We all shift, all the time, from being subject to being object and whether we are one or the other at any given time is down simply to perspective. It is really quite funny and lovely, at least I think it is (but, hey, that’s just me).
I’ve been making music recently. When I make music something really amazing happens. I become myself and go beyond myself at the same time. I get into it so deeply that I forget I am me. I become purely, and in no meaningful way at all, myself. I’ve experienced this since long before I started chanting and meditating and it is in many ways very similar. Making any kind of art is an extraordinary, miraculous thing to do. Something is manifested from the human spirit/mind into the world that has never, ever existed before. Ever. What???!! Wonderful! Create!
I have also had some interesting goings on with mantras over the last few months. As the poem above might suggest, Green Tara is my ‘foundation’ chant of choice. There is something earthy, vigorous and satisfying about this mantra. Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha. I read somewhere that the energetic channels of the body, weaving through the chakras and nadis, in, through and around the organs, glands and various systems, all meet in the roof of the mouth just behind the top teeth. That makes sense to me, as the series of ‘t’ sounds in the Green Tara mantra invigorate me as I tap them out with my tongue, sending regular pulses of energy out into my head, brain and body.
A while back I went off on a bit of an adventure in my car, over the Channel to France. Away from the familiarity of home, on the road alone, away from my partner and into the unknown, I felt a bit wobbly sometimes. I had with me a collection of Tara mantras, for protection from all sorts of things. I chanted one that protects from terrors and felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders swelling and strengthening like an ox pulling a cart as if it were a flea. I felt strong! I chanted another that protects from bad dreams and had some night time experiences the like of which I have never had before; dreams that ‘should’, in terms of the narrative content, have been nightmares but which were just a bit puzzling and some, a few, really wonderful ones. It is still sometimes difficult for me to take on board that these things have the effects that they do, but maybe it’s down to this; if you bother with mantras, they will bother with you.
I’ve also chanted some Hindu ones. The seed sounds embedded in the chants must be a key part of how these collections of sounds are effective. ‘Shreem’ for the infinite abundance of Lakshmi. ‘Dum’ for the protection of Durga. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that each mantra brings a different subtle effect to the state of the one who chants it and thence to their dealings with other people and the world. These things are powerful, but only if you get your head down and chant them!
There are literally thousands of mantras to chant, you can choose whichever one you want. If you are chanting for something you need it will be gifted to you. If you are chanting for something you don’t really need or already have (whether you know it or not), you will experience something else. I’m a naturally cautious person so if a mantra feels like it’s ‘too much’ of a particular energy, or is creating an imbalance or just making me feel a bit odd, I stop. Ultimately, there is no substitute for subjective experience – says the woman who has realised that subject and object are one!
Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha!
Peace to all