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Pranava Meditation teachings of Lorin Roche
Forget about Pronunciation and Forget about Fear
Note that many of these words are used in everyday speech, and children play with them as they learn language. In mantric usage, these simple sounds become enchanting, and allow awareness to ride the elevator among levels of speech.
Mantras have never actually been secret, in that they are chanted in rituals. The “secrecy” of mantras is there to protect context-associated sacredness. You don’t want to wear the word out, by using it unconsciously. You want the word to be associated with delicious meditative states, in your body and mind.
In our time, all the secrets are out in the open - this is the nature of our time.
At the same time, every conception, and spin on mantras is also available, even contradictory ones. Mantras have been used in many different ways over the centuries, so there are vastly different styles of engaging with the sounds.
Here is a sentence that is laden with ignorance: Originating in the Vedic tradition of India, Mantras "can be interpreted to be effective as vibration, or more simply as sound, which may include verbal repetition, in the form of chanting, or internal mental repetition. For this reason great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation (resulting in an early development of a science of phonetics in India). Mantras can be used in Eastern spiritual traditions to divert the mind from basic instinctual desires or material inclinations...".Can you see what is wrong here - that is, right for someone (perhaps a professional sacrificer living in India in 1200 AD) but wrong for modern Westerners?
When using a mantra for magic, for rituals of sacrifice, of course you have to pronounce them accurately.
Meditation is something completely different. All mantras emerge from OM and dissolve into OM. So you want the mantra to change, find its own rhythm, find its own pronunciation, as it journeys to OM and back. Actually what is happening is that your levels of perception are changing.
Just like everyone’s voice sounds different and distinct to them, with mantras, the way you sound them is unique to you. You are not in a ritual from the Bronze Age, in which a horse is being sacrificed to satisfy the gods - gods you have never heard of and have no idea how to propitiate anyway.
You are in your own living room, or yoga studio, and the mantras you are using come from inside you, are the sounds of life, aspects of the song of life. Yes, if you can think of a sound, they probably thought of it in 300 BC and mapped out a whole system of correspondences. In sonic yoga, every syllable has its own personality, like Bugs Bunny or The Roadrunner or Daffy. This does not mean anything other than that as you say OOOOO or EEEEE you can feel different vibrations in your body.