Why waste time in uttering a mantra repeatedly?

by June 1, 2011

Question: In the name of meditation, many people often spend hours uttering a mantra repeatedly. Isn’t this a colossal waste of time?

Answer: Not at all. In fact, such repeated chanting of mantras is a valid and valuable investment of time for personal rejuvenation. Let’s see how.

Let’s imagine a group of people who don’t know how to read, who, in fact, don’t even know that the concept of a language which utilizes specific symbols called letters to represent objects and concepts. How would such people see a book? As a heap of papers bound together and having a certain weight and certain dimensions. Is their perception correct? Yes, it is. But is it complete? Obviously, it isn’t.

Now let’s imagine those with such imbalanced perception visiting a library. When they see the readers sitting for hours staring at books, they are likely to censure the readers as time wasters. But are the readers wasting their time? Obviously, they aren’t. For the illiterate to understand this would require education in the concept of language and training in the technique of reading. Through the education, they will discover that “the heap of papers” is actually the gateway to a whole new universe of meaning, excitement and fulfillment. Through the training, when they themselves enter into that universe, they will appreciate that the book-readers, far from wasting time, are actually rejoicing in that universe and are also equipping themselves with knowledge and skills for life in this universe.

Now let’s apply this analogy to the chanting of mantras. Most of us lead our lives seeking material pleasures and never receive education about the higher, spiritual realities life: the soul, God and their joyful relationship. Nor do we receive training in meditation by which we can perceive and relish the refined delights of devotional remembrance of God. If we are fortunate enough to receive this spiritual education, then we will comprehend that a whole new universe of higher spiritual reality permeated with meaning, excitement and fulfillment exists parallel to our universe of daily experience. And by spiritual training, we will discover that the repeated chanting of specified sound vibrations given in the Vedic wisdom-literatures is a sophisticated spiritual technique to enter into this higher universe and equip ourselves with a broader perspective and a greater composure for living in our daily universe. The Bhagavad-gita (15.11) calls this higher perception as “the eye of wisdom” that is opened by philosophical education and devotional training.

Therefore, let us cast aside the misunderstanding that the chanters are engaging in a colossal waste of time and instead end the colossal deficiency of education and training by which we can open our eye of wisdom.

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