Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 12/23/2012

Mantras and Malas – Part 1

Despite not being described (to my limited knowledge at least) in the suttas, I have been drawn to mantra practice for as long as I have made any sustained attempt to practice the a way of life based on the teachings of the Buddha. Like many in the US who were not Buddhist by birth, my first contact with Buddhist religions was through Zen and Tibetan sources and the first temple I ever visited was the Village Zendo. As such, the use of mantra (in Vajrayana) and the presence of malas (in both of the aforementioned traditions) was a given. 

Years later as I became more serious in my practice and grew into a more Theravadin practice I found myself trying to reconcile my continued use of malas and mantras in the face of their glaring absence in the suttas. Now, I have to be clear that my use of the term “mantra” departs somewhat from the historical meaning. I don’t attribute any particular meaning to the sounds of the mantra I’m repeating and one could question if what I’m doing even qualifies as mantra meditation. For years I have used the phrase “metta-karuna-mudita-upekkha” with my mala or while walking but have only recently began to see its benefits as a preliminary practice.

Unfortunately I don’t have the time or privacy to finish but will try to get back to this tomorrow.


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