QA118 QUESTION: Do mantras, such as repetitious prayers, help in the development of your own soul, and especially the phrase “I am?” And in what way does it help?
ANSWER: Well, my dear friend, I would say, usually repetitious phrases are at best hypnotic self-suggestion and do not really add to growth, to insight, to deeper understanding. Five minutes of attempting to understand one’s problems, one’s negative reactions, and of truthful insight and self-acceptance of where one is now, is infinitely more growth producing and furthers development much more than hours and hours of repetitious phrases.
I believe, my dear friend, if you truly think with your own independent mind, not accepting what I say nor accepting what other exponents say of an opposite view, but if you think your own thoughts on that subject, examining this issue dispassionately, objectively, you will come to your own conclusions. But please try to have your own independent, objective mind examine this question. Ask whether an uttered, again and again, repetitious phrase, that as you repeat it more and more often, it must lose more and more of its meaning.
It just becomes a more automatic process. It cannot help being that. Ask whether this could really and truly produce an inner growth, even if it might temporarily produce a trancelike state where you experience certain sensations. But this can be in any kind of hypnotic state. Only that which leads to deeper recognition of oneself and one’s inner problems and conflicts is truly growth producing.
Such an exercise may perhaps be useful, or not have been a waste, if it helps you for the future to concentrate. But concentrate there, where it is really meaningful, where your inner fears, your conflicts, your difficulties, lie. If you have the ability to concentrate – and you need that – then this may not have been a waste, so do not feel sad about that. But try to shift the emphasis of your concentration as you develop yourself more.