Chanting Your Way Beyond Ego into Bliss
by Kailash Bruder • Asheville, NC
Are you hoping to find a simple, straight-forward spiritual practice that reliably calms and concentrates your mind, elevates and stabilizes your feelings, and inspires and energizes your will?
The fact that you’re reading this suggests that you’re already a spiritual seeker—someone wanting to experience the Great Mystery directly and hoping that this experience will translate into concrete improvements in your day-to-day life.
Devotional chanting is the very spiritual practice you need, allowing you to take full advantage of a resource that’s already available to you for your own evolution: your voice.
If you’re like me, at some time or another you’ve been inspired by stories of saints and sages. You’ve probably imagined yourself becoming like them—holy, compassionate, wise, and carefree—only to discover that wishing didn’t take you there. Learning about how great someone else’s spiritual life was doesn’t do much by itself to improve your own. True enough, reading about their heroic efforts with respect to self-discipline and their amazing insights can be inspiring. However, it can also be discouraging in the long run, especially when you discover that the particulars of their path are simply too ambitious for you to imitate.
Yet, there’s this nagging sense that you can be more than you’ve been thus far and that a way of life that transcends your current limitations exists, if only you knew how to access it. But where do you begin?
What you need is a system for spiritual development that works with your life as it is, yet challenges you enough to result in definite growth. It should stretch you where you need to expand and provide incentive to strive where you’ve been lax, while not overwhelming you with its complexity or difficulty. The practical spiritual exercise of devotional chanting has filled these needs for me, and I know it can do the same for you.
My own entry into chanting was from two different “angles.” One was my search for an approach to spiritual growth that would engage every dimension of my being, especially my feelings. For many years, my emphasis was on cultivating the clearest and most accurate understanding of ultimate reality that I could. This process led me to consider a wide variety of perspectives, first exclusively within Christianity, and then within other wisdom traditions as well. While I learned many things that I still regard as valuable, this philosophical approach was sometimes rather “dry” and detached. I wanted a practice that involved all of me—my body and heart, as well as my mind—which would lead me to a direct experience of the ideals I was pursuing. Devotional chanting delivers.
The other point of entry for me was my work as a scholar-teacher of communication. For the bulk of my professional life, I’ve been investigating the relationship between people’s specific communication behaviors and their interior lives, especially their sense of self. I came to realize that everything we say (or sing) to ourselves and others shapes us and contributes to the quality of our lives. My studies of interactive methods for spiritual development that have been used by people throughout history and around the world inevitably led me to devotional chanting.
The advantages of this ancient form of worshipping the Divine are many and varied. Not only does chanting quiet our minds, it also helps us forget our troubles; produces a sense of connection with others; and fosters a wealth of positive feelings such as serenity, lightness, and joy. Many chanters—novices and veterans alike—even report the sensation of having transcended their bodies during this practice. Chanting is a technique that makes the best use of our love of pleasure, redirecting our desires toward the Supreme. In this way, chanting is a shortcut to ecstasy.
Mantra repetition is a simple, enjoyable, and powerful procedure for purposefully reorganizing your consciousness. The uncomplicated nature of chanting may seem at odds with some of the extravagant claims made for its power as a form of spiritual technology. After all, how could speaking or singing syllables from an ancient foreign language possibly generate such an amazing range of benefits? The very act of repeating a mantra induces relaxation, allowing you access to the sublime silence always abiding at the core of your being. Simplifying your mental processes by working with mantras will support you in increased concentration and emotional command.
Additional benefits may be realized when you chant in coordination with other types of sadhana (spiritual practice). For example, the rewards of chanting are exponentially increased when also harnessing the force of imagination—such as repeating mantras while visualizing the Perfections that are being invoked.
Excerpted from the book Following Sound into Silence: Chanting Your Way Beyond Ego into Bliss © 2008 Kurt (Kailash) Bruder. Reprinted with permission of Hay House, Inc., Carlsbad, CA. www.HayHouse.com.
Kailash is committed to sharing tools of mind, heart, speech and song that equip you for success in your search for happiness.
A scholar-teacher in human communication and psychology (as Kurt A. Bruder, Ph.D., M.Ed.) and an earnest student of spirituality, Kailash presents a unique blend of wisdom and inspiration useful to those on any path to the Supreme. Please visit: http://OmKailash.com.