Om Tara Mantra

I love mantras. Being a generally musical being, they move me deeply. When I get a mantra in my head, listen to a chant, or join in one, I feel it resonating to every fiber of my being.

I'm not religious (not to be confused with "I am an athiest" - because I'm not!), and when I first encountered mantras I felt extremely uncomfortable, almost afraid of them. They seemed "cult-y" and foreign to me, and I disliked that they named deities I was unfamiliar with or didn't believe in. A while later down the yoga path, now I love the joining of voices that mantras and kirtan give us. It is such a blessing to sit in a room full of people and all sing along - no more culty to me than a campfire or a kindergarten round of "row row row your boat"!

One mantra in particular I love: the Om Tara mantra. It is a mantra dedicated to the female incarnation of the Bodhisattva (one who follows the path of compassion), Tara. Tara's name means "star" or "she who ferries across", and she symbolizes Compassion in Action. Her mantra goes like this:

Om Tara Tuttare Ture Svaha

Essentially the Om Tara mantra represents a progression towards spiritual liberation through compassionate action. Om Tara invokes the essence of compassion in our being. Tuttare represents liberation from delusions that cause suffering. Ture symbolizes liberation from the perception of duality; i.e. to truly be compassionate one must link the suffering of others with one's own suffering, and therefore devote yourself to ending all suffering, not just your own personal suffering. Finally, Svaha is a closing syllable that asks for the meaning of the mantra to take hold in your own mind. [For a more detailed explanation, check out this site.]

Do you like mantras, or dislike them? Does the idea of chanting together with others make you joyful or uncomfortable? What are your favourite mantras?