The use of mantras/ Calendar of the Soul
- ******* I thought I would say a little bit here about chanting with Mantras at about using this week's calendar of the soul mantra in particular.
You can think of the Path of spiritual science as having three levels: in the first, we take in ideas with our ordinary thinking, primarily through the basic books and of course the lectures by Rudolf Steiner, and books and lectures by other anthroposophists. But even within the first level, we start doing what the second level primarily consists of: focusing on certain ideas, images, and feelings. This is quite natural, because certain things will strike a chord within us more than others, and so we'll find ourselves dwelling on certain images and ideas unconsciously. The level that goes beyond ordinary intellectualizing and speculating starts with CONSCIOUSLY choosing certain ideas, images, and sayings, and contemplating these, continually filling your soul with them. For some people, visual images work best, while others prefer spoken words, depending on your personality -- -- -- some people being "iconic" learners and others "eidetic". (Has to do with the two hemispheres of the brain, among other things.)
Steiner gave out many visual images to meditate on in his lectures, which he called "Imaginations" (in old yoga they were called "yantras"). He also gave out many verses to recite, or mantras. One, called the Foundation Stone, was given to unite all members of the Society, while there are many others to the use--- in the morning and evening, for summer and winter, during sickness, to attune to the planets, to work with the archangel Michael, work with the planets ruling each day of the week, work with the dead, etc. Then there's a series of them he gave out as part of the first class of the school of spiritual science. These fifty-two mantras called the Calendar of the Soul verses are of course for each week in the year. For beginners, it's better to choose one mantra to use all the time at first, rather than having to learn a new one every week. Unless you have a good memory or are used to memorizing lines as an actor, it takes a bit of training to start to work with mantras. (I won't even go into to how our modern world trains us to be distracted and unfocused and therefore how against the grain concentrating on ANYTHING is.)
In my experience, the first thing is to develop the ability to commit a mantra to memory, so that you can call it up when you wish, without having to go look it up again. It's not much different than memorizing lines for a play. But here we run into a difficulty, in that the mantras were not created in English. There's a big difference between chanting "Om mani padme hum" and "the Jewel in the Lotus". Mantras are created with a rhythm in their original language. Steiner spoke a lot about the German language, and how it had retained words that had disappeared from other European languages because the Germanic people kept the old natural clairvoyance longer. He said he could become in our time what Sanskrit was in ancient times, THE language in which spiritual things were communicated. So with any mantra, you may start with an English translation, but what you want to do is get to work with the original. My translations are not very poetic or beautiful, because what I concentrated on was translating word for word so that someone can teach themselves the German from the English version easily. You can find many other English translations. The important thing is to be able to understand the meaning of the words to be able to think them. That I think is the first step, whether in English or German.
Then, as you use a mantra, of course something deeper happens. To use a comparison, an actor first learns lines or a singer learns the lyrics of a song, but then feeling flows into the acting or singing. Likewise, you don't stay in your head while you chant a mantra, either silently or aloud. If the mantra were only what you can get out of it by intellectual speculating on the meaning of the words, it would have no power. Far deeper powers than the intellect begin to become active when you repeat a mantra meditatively.
But, bearing that in mind, here is a little bit more in depth about the "meaning" of this week's calendar of the soul mantra. It's connected with the entire continuum of the cycle of the year, which is like a breathing process of the earth and of our souls-- we are asleep in summer and then wake up in winter, a process starting now in the Northern Hemisphere. That's why I wrote:
"The season of Autumn is the Michaelmas time, in which we are meant to develop Self (inner)-consciousness instead of the Nature (outer)-consciousness we have had all Summer. "
Then I referred to last week's verse, since they're part of a cycle:
self-consciousness by last week had produced a powerful force in our
soul-drives, which was sensed as a seed of future development going into the Autumn."
Now here's the mantra in German and my translation, which you can see is word for word, so that, for instance, anyone could see that "Aus Seelensonnenmacht" means "Out of Soul's Sun-Might"...
Ich kann in Innern neu belebt
Erfühlen eignen Wesens Weiten
Und kraftefüllt Gedankenstrahlen
Den Lebensrätseln lösend spenden,
Erfüllung manchem Wunsche leihen,
Dem Hoffnung schon die Schwingen lähmte.
I can in Inner newly alive
Feel my own Essence widen
And power-filled Thinking-rays
Out of Soul's Sun-Might
Life-Riddles loosening giving,
Fulfillment to many Wishes lending,
That before even the Hope for had its wings lamed.
This week, we feel this new force enlivening our inner selves and
causing our being to widen out of its isolation within self into the wide
world, and newly-empowered thinking finds itself able to solve what had been
before seemingly-insoluable mysteries of life; which in turn leads to the
feeling that many wishes, whose hopes of fulfillment we had given up on, we
now see it will be possible to realize.
To expand on it, if you choose to use this mantra you should feel that your inner self is opening to the outside world and widening in the first 2 lines, as if you're emerging out on your formerly isolated self. In the third line, notice the emphasis on thinking. The theme of the change from summer to winter is that we are taking something of the Sun into our selves from out of that "Sun" time of the year, and this is what is causing us to wake up, so a sort of "solar" force is in our thinking now. Feel this in the third and fourth lines. This can enable your conscious thinking to go beyond where it has gone in the past, so that what had seemed like riddles without answers now can be solved (fifth line). This in turn gives a strong feeling that many things you have wished for but had given up hope of ever having, now can become possible--- and this hopeful feeling for the future should fill us in the last two lines.
The change in the lines of the eurythmy form posted by Frankie express the same feelings (mantra #28).