About 3 weeks ago I was browsing Facebook. I have my doubts about the merits of Facebook, as when I spend too much time flipping through post upon post I feel my brain turn to mush and my productivity draining out of me, yet I do believe, when used responsibly, it can be a force for good. And here is the proof.
On this occasion I came across a picture of Amma standing amid a crowd and the caption said she was leading the chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu,” – a sanskrit chant that is translated as “May All Beings in All the Worlds be Peaceful and Happy.”
It was just a quick glance, I didn’t even click on the “read more” option and scrolled down to the squirrel in front of the Buddha statue and the mini-pig jumping in a pool. I regretfully admit that I spent more time watching the video of the dog walking on its front legs for a full two minutes peeing than I did reading the post from Amma’s Facebook page. But through the mercy and blessing of Amma, after I saw that picture I all of a sudden had that chant stuck in my head.
I have had chants stuck in my head before after attending a community satsang or burning a hole in my Krishna Das CD. But this was unusual because it’s not a chant I have chanted before and it’s not a chant I even knew at the time – yet I found it repeating itself in my head even as I was scrambling for the words. It was like my mind was involuntarily half-mumbling this chant over and over, all of this going on internally as I was busy going about my day.
After a couple of hours of mumbling a chant I didn’t know I looked it up on you tube and found this version by Wah – and then I had something to listen to on the outside that matched what was going on inside.
Since I was being given this blessing (it is infinitely better to have a sacred chant stuck in your head than for example a song “all about that bass” which can also happen) – I gratefully learned the chant and joined in with my conscious mind whenever I did not have some other task requiring mental concentration. I chanted under my breath at my desk at work. I chanted as I drove to and from work or anywhere else for that matter. I chanted as I walked my dog Peachy in the evenings. I chanted as I cooked dinner in my kitchen. I chanted as I brushed my teeth morning and evening. And for almost two weeks I felt the chant going constantly in the background even as I was engaged in conversation or attending meetings at work.
In first reading the meaning of the chant, it seems like a prayer – like a request, asking God or the universe or some all-powerful being somewhere for all beings everywhere to be peaceful and happy. So I thought, great – what a good thing to do as I’m walking across campus to pick up the business department mail – even if it looks like I’m mumbling to myself, I might as well be praying for peace and happiness for all. But as I continued to chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” I started feeling that it is much more than a prayer – it is a state of consciousness.
In chanting those words I was getting in touch with the part of God that holds for the peace and happiness of all souls, of all Her children. I was noticing that each time I sat down to meditate I had an easier time going into a state of peacefulness, slipping right into a calm steady happiness as soon as I closed my eyes. One time when I took Peachy down to the fort I sat down on the grass with some live musician playing in the background and plenty of tourists milling about, and as soon as I closed my eyes and focused on the chant I could feel the vastness and eternity of God that is IN and behind and underneath everything as this state of peaceful happiness. I could feel this chant as God holding everyone – all beings in all the worlds – with this loving happy presence of peace. I could feel all the tourists around me, the musician playing across the street, all the people in all of St Augustine being held in this Presence. And not just now, but beyond time. It was like I could feel this constant loving Presence of happiness holding all beings through all of time – through the most ancient days of this ancient city, I could feel this Presence, somehow connected from where I was sitting to these men and women from long ago.
I realized that this chant is not just a prayer – it is not just asking “May all beings in all the worlds be peaceful and happy.” It is the actual state of consciousness of Peace and Happiness that is just a click away from all of us – right next to us, right under every cell of our beings – there It is, just waiting for us to shift, to let go into It. So, in chanting this prayer we can merge with God’s own wish for all beings everywhere to live in peace and happiness, and in praying the same prayer God prays, we become just a little bit closer to God ourselves.
Just a few days after this experience I saw yet another post that read “Amma’s intention is that each person somehow grow closer to God.” So, for this blessing, I thank Ammachi and Facebook!