Talk about a busy weekend! There is a lot going on over these next few days. Today is Sunday, June 21st, and it’s Father’s Day in the U.S. It’s also the first official day of summer. I am in Florida this week visiting family. Today we went to the beach. It was so beautiful. Thankfully, I had my mala beads with me. I have been wondering when would be the “best” time to begin my next 40 day mantra. I already decided which one I was going to do this time. I was torn between starting it today, the Summer Solstice or tomorrow, the New Moon day.
As I stared out at the ocean, I knew I had to begin immediately. It just felt so right. I grabbed my beads and started walking along the sandy beach. Then, another “issue” began to arise. I was not sure of the correct pronunciation of the manta! I knew I could not let that stand in my way. I had recently read a story that I kept in mind:
An old story speaks about a similar problem. A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.
A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.
The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!
“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.
“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”
“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”
The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.
“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.
“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”
“You obviously don’t need it,” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.
The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.
So, I said it the “best” way I could. And, as I walked, I picked up two sea shells, to serve as a reminder of this mantra and its meaning: new beginnings.