Is it okay for Christians to use the name of Jesus Christ as a Mantra in meditation? What is the subconscious purpose of repeating any Mantra? Read what this meditation guide says and then decide if this is a biblical method to practice:
STEP TWO: Repetition of Mantra
The second part of meditation, which is an aspect of internal dharana (concentration), consists of japa or repetition of a mantra, and can be combined with dhyana (contemplation). A mantra is a sound-form representing a basic spiritual ideal, such as uniting with the infinite spirit (Om), or transcendental truth, knowledge, infinity (satyam, gyanam, anantam), or a personal deity like Shiva or Vishnu or Buddha or Christ. A mantra can also be an affirmation of an ideal, such as Soham (I am one with the infinite) or Hari Om Tat Sat (the Lord is the infinite spirit, that is the truth). The two well-known Hebrew mantras are Adonai (my Lord) and Elohim (the all-powerful Lord of all).
A mantra should not be considered a magic formula, for there is no magic in Yoga. Continuous repetition of a sound-form helps to tap mental energy and focus it into the subconscious in order to plant and stimulate a spiritual ideal therein. This is the basic purpose of japa. To call it transcendental meditation is to indulge in hyperbole. There are various kinds of mantra but for japa its shorter forms are recommended, such as Om, or Soham, or a slightly larger form as Hari Om or Hari Om Tat Sat.
According to the voluminous Sanskrit-English dictionary by Sir Monier-Williams (Oxford University Press), the word mantra means, among other definitions, “to concentrate with”, drawing its roots man from manas or mind (more specifically, the conscious aspect of the mind) and tra from possibly trada (see under tra) or that which pierces or as per my inference that which engraves. Thus, mantra is a sound-form to consciously engrave in the subconscious a spiritual ideal of identity. Trada also means that which opens up, thus inferentially one’s spiritual consciousness. Remotely, the root tra can also be traced to tras (see under tra) which means to shine, thus inferentially the spirit within.
The mind is a field of energy. Energy pulsates through a principle or structure of movement. The mind moves by the pulsation of memory, latching on to one and then to another. Thus, the energy of the mind is dispersed. The purpose of repeating a sound-form continuously is to make the mind move in a tight circle, thus tapping its energy. Simultaneously, the sentiment of love for the spiritual ideal behind should be focused deeply within.
One may begin the second part of meditation by refocusing the mind in the breath, trying to be absorbed in it, as before, for a minute or two. Then start the mental intonation of the mantra Om, slowly and concentrating deeply, along with the inflowing breath, feeling its coolness, and again with the outflowing, feeling the warmth. The process should be continuous for several minutes. Then have a short pause, detaching the mind and experiencing an inner silence, and after which repeat the practice. Continue for a total of 10 minutes in the first month and then extend by another five minutes or so.
The psychological counterpart of this exercise, to be contemplated alternately, consists in feeling a subtle, sacred presence within: in the body giving it health or physical well-being, in the mind enlightening it with understanding and wiping out the shadows of negativity, in the heart or the soul awakening spiritual aspiration. The last means loving “God with all your heart and with all your soul” in the words of Jesus. These guiding sentiments are relative to the repetition of Om, which can be directed in between japa.
If the mantra is Soham, the sound So (infinite spirit) should be mentally intoned with the inflowing breath and ham (I am one with) with the outflowing, in the same way as with Om. The sentiment or the contemplative part may be based on the affirmation: “I am one with the eternal, infinite spirit within and around. The self in me is of the spiritual nature of my soul, rather than a product of physical instincts and personality traits. The self in me is purified by this communion with my soul, the essence of which is the same as the infinite, transcendental spirit of God.”
For a devout Christian the mantra can be Jesus Christ. Although it is not essential to synchronise the repetition of a mantra with the breath, the feeling of a harmonious rhythm can be developed by doing so, as if the mantra is floating in and out, permeating and enveloping oneself. Examples: repeat Hari Om inhaling and Tat Sat exhaling; or Jesus inhaling, Christ exhaling; or for those of the Jewish faith, Adonai inhaling, Elohim exhaling. While doing japa the mind should be deeply concentrated in intoning silently the mantra with a feeling of love for the ideal. Combining this dharana (concentration) with dhyana (contemplation relative to the mantra) is done in the following way:
If the mantra is Jesus Christ, or Adonai-Elohim, repeat the words for five minutes, then unfocus the mind breathing spontaneously for a minute or two, and begin the contemplative part for five minutes or so. This is done with the help of three phrases. In the case of Jesus Christ or a Vishnu mantra like Om Namo Narayanaya, the image of the deity may be visualised in the mind, or in the case of Adonai-Elohim a sphere of light as a symbol, but it is not easy and can be considered optional.
Repeat about half-a-dozen times each of the three following phrases very slowly and with deep feeling: “My body is your temple”, then pause and feel for a couple of minutes a flow of harmony coursing through the entire body, the spirit of God purifying it, giving it health. Then repeat in the same way “My mind is your altar”, pausing again to feel a profound peace permeating it, cleansing and liberating it from all that is unwholesome. Then “My soul is your abode”, followed by a feeling of pure love filling your heart.
This combined form of dharana and dhyana may be practised for five minutes each and then extended to an equal amount of time or a total of 20 minutes, or as long as one wishes.
–A Guide to Meditation
by Swami Shivapremananda
Can the practices of Eastern religion and Christianity be combined? Is it okay for Christian pastors, missionaries and students be choosing a meaningful word/phrase that helps them focus on God, such as ABBA, Father, Creator, Jesus or Maranatha, and mentally recite this word/phrase?
“…one must remember that integrating any form of paganism into Christian spirituality is a form of evil and considered by God an abomination. Simply relabeling or redefining pagan spirituality for Christians does not make it Christian or Biblical. Call it “centering prayer”, Christian yoga”, Christian mantra’s”, Visualizing Jesus” “Eucharistic adoration”, etc., it is simply pagan spirituality lightly sprayed with Christian terminology. People too often forget that one of Satan’s goals is to bring mysticism and occultism into the church and deceive people into thinking they are “communing with the Divine”.”
-DEFINING DECEPTION: WHAT IS YOGA, MYSTICISM, NEW AGE AND THE OCCULT?
By Chris Lawson
More reasons why using a repetitive word or phrase is not a biblical means to approach God can be found here:
Contemplating The Alternative
What is Mantra Meditation?
Finding the god within
NEW AGE Pathways in the church