THE POWER OF MANTRA - Part 1
A Relationship of Frequencies
by Dennis Gaumond
What is a mantra? Why do they have such strong capacity to affect us? To answer these questions we must first acknowledge that sound in general has a powerful effect on human consciousness. There's ample evidence in the scientific community to back this up, but most people would acknowledge that some sounds such as nails on a blackboard, are irritating, while other sounds such as a gently babbling brook, sooth us. For the most part, all humans tend to react to these sounds similarly, although there may be some variation as to which sounds affect which people.
It may be useful to think of a sound as a 'relationship of frequencies'. Every single, solitary sound is a vibration with a specific frequency. Most of the sounds we hear consist of several sounds combined, or a relationship of frequencies. It is the way that these frequencies relate to each other that determines the way they affect human consciousness. With noise or discordant sound the frequencies have no mathematical relationship with each other. In music the frequencies (the notes) do relate to each other - are in harmony with each other and are thus more naturally pleasing to the ear.
A good way to understand a mantra's power is to look at the way a chord affects us in music. A major chord, which is a harmonic relationship of three frequencies or notes, has a built-in emotional quality, an inherent way of affecting human consciousness. It makes us feel a certain way. A minor chord, which is a different harmonic relationship of three notes, has a completely different emotional quality than the major chord. It affects us completely differently. All humans react to these different frequency relationships in the same way. It's built-in. We don't know why it affects us this way - it just does.
Similarly, a mantra is a collection of sounds, a relationship of frequencies. Every mantra has an innate ability to affect human consciousness. Said another way, each sound, each syllable has a natural inherent power. Certain combinations of these sounds have a 'vibrational meaning', a vibratory quality that relates to aspects of humanity/divinity. Repeated exposure to these sounds can bring about a shift in human consciousness. A mantra has a built-in power to change our beliefs, to change the way we act, think and feel. We're not sure exactly how it works - it just does. Some ancient root languages such as Hebrew and Sanskrit and some indigenous languages were built upon this realization, so that the vibrational 'meaning' of certain sounds contributed to the literal meaning of words. Back when human consciousness was more right-brained and intuitive, the language was developed in a way that was truer to the connection between the vibrational meaning and the literal meaning of a 'word'. Our modern languages, developed during a time when human consciousness was more left-brained and less intuitive, are less connected in this vibrational way.
Some power mantras evolved to become the names of deities. In other words, the sounds that represented a certain set of human/divine qualities were eventually assigned a divine persona, and the sound became the name of that persona, that deity. For example, the relationship of frequencies - the word - 'kali', contains a certain power/meaning or set of characteristics. This set of characteristics was eventually assigned to a persona, a goddess named Kali. When we use the name of a deity in a mantra, we are not just invoking the image of that deity, we are invoking the power inherent in the sounds that make up the name of the deity.
It's interesting that some sounds are seen in the names of deities from different cultures and religious traditions. For example, the sound 'ra' or 'ram' appears in many contexts. Anyone who possessed the secrets of 'ram', is said to possess 'the highest expression of cosmic knowingness'. The original name of Abraham was 'Abram', which means 'he who has Ram'. This root can be seen in several names for divinity, such as Rama(India/Tibet), Ra and Ramtha(Egypt), and Aram(Celtic). Another example, the word 'yoni', which is the Sanskrit word representing the female genitalia, appears in African chants dedicated to the African goddess of sex and love, Ochun.
In the Ancient Hebrew traditions, the name of God - Jehovah derived from Yahweh, which derives from a set of 4 vowel sounds, ee, ah, oo, eh. These sounds were called the 'Tetragrammaton' and were said to have great power. At a point in their history when the patriarchy/priesthood sought to control all direct connection to divinity, it was forbidden for the common Hebrews to use this name and they were told to use the word 'Adonai' to refer to God. It's interesting that, in overtone singing, one uses these same vowel sounds to get the different harmonic overtones.
There's no question that sound is a powerful force. It has always been associated with 'magick' - the art of creating our reality with our will, with the power of consciousness. Two words associated with magic are 'incantation' and 'enchantment'. Within these words we can see the root 'chant'. We create our reality at all times. By the effective use of mantras we can learn to control that creative force and thus control the reality of our lives.
(This article will continue with the next newsletter - you will learn about Sanskrit, a language that has been called a 'science of sound'.)