The Mantra and the Practice Of Meditation
There are various mantras which are possible for a beginner, but if you have no teacher to help you, you should choose a word that has been hallowed over the centuries by our Christian tradition. Some of these words were first taken over as mantras for prayer by the Church in its earliest days.
One of these words is ‘MARANATHA’. This Aramaic word means, ‘Come Lord, Come Lord Jesus’. It is the mantra recommended by Dom John Main (1926-1982), a Benedictine monk who has put into contemporary language this ancient teaching of prayer. It is the word which St. Paul uses to end his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 16:22), and the word with which St. John ends the book of Revelation (Rev. 22:20). It also has a place in some of the earliest Christian liturgies. This Aramaic word is preferred because it has no visual or emotional connotations and its continuous repetition will lead us over time to a deeper and deeper silence.
The focus of repeating the mantra is Christocentric. This means that it is centred on the prayer of Christ, which is continuously poured forth in the Holy Spirit in the depth of each human being. Thus, in this way of ‘pure prayer’ we leave all thoughts, words and images behind in order to ‘set our minds on the kingdom of God before all else’. In this way we leave our egotistical self behind to die and rise to our true self in Christ.
Meditation therefore is an inner journey of silence, stillness and simplicity, and is the missing contemplative dimension of much Christian life today.