Lecture delivered at the Hermetic Brotherhood Hall, San Francisco, on December 26, 1902
Can any particular benefit be derived from the chanting of OM without understanding it?
Monks living in the forests of the Himalayas chant OM or sing something else and play upon a musical instrument. Many times snakes, deer, and wild beasts of the forests leave their places and come up to the side of the monks. Now, these wild animals understand nothing of the laws of music, nothing of the chanting of DM. still the effect is there. If the mere sound produces such a marvellous effect upon snakes and deer, cannot the mere sound chanted continually in the right time produce an effect in your life?
In every piece of music there are three phases or aspects, viz., first, the meaning of the song; wand, the Laws of music; third, the sound or language of the song. If you are acquainted thoroughly with all the three aspects of the song, you enjoy the song wonderfully. But even if you are familiar with only one element, you can still enjoy it to some extent. The snakes and the deer hear only the musical airs, they know nothing of the meaning of the song or of the laws of music, yet they enjoy it. Some enjoy the musical laws as observed by the artist; to them the meaning of the song is nothing. Others enjoy only the meaning of the song and they know nothing about the musical laws. Similarly, in OM there are three sides. The first is the mere sound, the mere Mantram as pronounced by the mouth; the second is the meaning of the syllable, which is to be realized through feeling; the third is the applying of OM to your character, singing it in your acts and in your life. A man who sings OM in all these ways, chants it with his lips, feels it with his heart, and sings it through action, makes his life a continuous song. To everybody he is God; but if you cannot chant it with feeling nor chant it with your acts, do not give it up, go on chanting it with the lips, even that is not without use. If you can sing it only in feeling and not through actions or vocal organs, you will still be benefited to some degree. If you can sing it only in action and not through feelings and in the mouth, that is also noble and fine; but chanting it through feelings and actions will naturally follow if you commence humming it with the mouth.
There are certain things the mere mention of which causes the mouth to water, such as oranges, lemons, etc. The mere mention of these produces an effect and the eating of these produces certainly a complete effect. Just so the mere sound or chant of OM will produce a certain effect mid if you take it in its entirety, the effect is complete. You may not feel the effect in the beginning, but it must eventually bear fruit, rest assured.
Hydrostatics tells us that if we have a cistern with a plug in the bottom and we pour water into the cistern, the pressure at the bottom increases as we pour in more and more water; and we can calculate by the laws of Hydrostatics just how much water ought to be poured into the cistern in order to make the pressure of the water great enough to push out the plug and send the water out through the bottom. Similarly, if you go on pouring OM into the cistern of your body it will go on producing its effect in the way of adding to the pressure as it were, but manifestation of the effect for the public is one thing and the generation of the effect is another. Still there will come a time when you will see the plug is driven out of the bottom of the cistern, so to speak, and the water begins to gush out from you. The effect may not become apparent up to a certain time but the effect is there. It is like this: there was a newly married girl, the very personification of simplicity, she had had no experience of confinement as a mother. During the first mouth of her pregnancy she felt a little change in her disposition and naively imagined that the coming months would produce no further change. In India, the bride lives at the house of the mother-in-law, and it is the mother-in-law who attends to the wants of the daughter-in-law and her children. This young daughter one day quaintly addressed her mother-in-law thus: “Mother, mother, when I am in confinement will you kindly wake me, lest the child be born without ray being aware of its birth” The mother replied, “Dear girl, when the time comes there will be no necessity to wake you, you will be in a state to wake up all the neighbours by your screams and cries.”During the days of pregnancy a wonderful change was going on, the effect was being produced although the mother was not aware of it: when the proper time comes the effect is made manifest. Similarly, go on feeding on this Mantram, go on nourishing yourself, drink deep of this nourishing milk and the effect will in due time be brought forth. You need not get impatient.
When Rama was a child, he and several other children would get some seeds of corn and barley or rice and dig holes in the garden of the courtyard, and in these holes we would place these seeds together with some water and then cover this all over and so earnest were we in our work that we would forego our meals. We were impatient to see what the seeds would produce, we were impatient to see something come out of the place where we had but a few minutes before planted the seeds of corn, barley and rice. We could, not leave the spot for one moment, fearing lest the seeds might sprout without our knowing it. We were very anxious, and about an hour after sowing we were examining the place closely to see if there were my sprouts; we could see nothing. Disappointed we were, and we removed the earth a little to see if anything had happened, but could see nothing; we removed the earth a little more and nothing had commenced to germinate; we removed the earth still more and lo, the seeds were unchanged. Be not like those children, impatient and expecting to reap fruit in less than a quarter of an hour. You can sow the seed, but you cannot reap the harvest in so short a time. It must take some time at least, but most certainly the effect will be produced.