May 15, 2019
The only difficulty in connection with the practice of mantra repetition is dullness. It is very easy to go to sleep when you're doing something monotonous. (In case you have friends who have difficulty going to sleep, tell them this!) When you repeat a mantra, even if you roll the beads of a mala, you can become very drowsy. To the student of yoga this is a bugbear, because he doesn't want to go to sleep, he wants to keep awake and remain intensely alert. It's very difficult to remain alert while doing japa. It looks as though the mind is not one to reveal the secret, it does not want to be controlled, and it does not want you to know what its tricks are.
Normally you are thinking, but you are not aware that you are thinking or of the source of thought — which is your mental conditioning. Thinking takes place, like reflex action, there is no meaning in that thinking. You are thinking automatically, compelled by past habit-patterns, without your understanding or control. You think because you cannot help thinking and thought controls your behavior; that is what has made your life so messy.
The yogi wants to become aware of this phenomenon and when he uses this mantra, therefore, he has to be extremely alert. Otherwise he'll go to sleep. It is then that one needs a few aids.
For a truly religious student of yoga, the first and foremost aid is love of God, and therefore the Masters introduce some kind of devotional fervor with the mantra. When they said that each mantra has a deity and if you sit and repeat the mantra the deity will appear before you, they were not fools. If you sit and repeat “Om Namah Sivaya" eagerly expecting Lord Siva to appear before you, you are all alert. If you have that faith, then naturally there is alertness.
You can have this faith and devotion or you can have a spirit of intense wonderment. When you say that you are repeating the mantra mentally, what actually do you mean? The source of the mantra within you is also the source of all thoughts. Does the thought go back or forward? Does it come to you from the head or elsewhere? When these questions arise in you, you realize that thoughts like: 'I think I am here’, 'I think I am bad', 'I think I am a very religious person' have arisen in you for thousands and thousands of years, and caused all this mischief amongst us. We are quite happy with them, we have taken them for granted. We do not want to know anything about their origin. The yogi suggests that we can have this very healthy spirit of curiosity, or wonder.