The Gayatri Mantra and A Love Supreme

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The Gayatri Mantra

Watch a short video and hear me chant the Gayatri Mantra and discuss about understanding it by exploring John Coltrane’s masterpiece, A Love Supreme.

 

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ


bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

 

Translation:

Everything on the Earth and in the sky and in between is arising from one effulgent Source. If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this, I would be the peace I am seeking in this moment.

 

The The Gayatri Mantra might be easy to understand on the surface but could take a lifetime of practice to truly comprehend. More than 12 thousand years old, it derives from the Rigveda, an ancient Sanskrit text full of hymns, mantras, and myths that speak to the origin of the world.

Personally, I find The Gayatri Mantra difficult to understand because it says that I am the very things I feel like I lack. If I’m seeking peace, I am that peace already. The Gayatri Mantra states that we are all part of one Source and as such, everything is part of us and we of everything else. I can get this intellectually or philosophically but struggle to experience this Oneness. That’s why we have practices like yoga and meditaiton.

One experience I had that helped me understand the Gayatri Mantra and experience this Oneness came through studying John Coltrane while on a run in Hawaii.

It was during the  pre-dawn hours and everything felt perfect that morning. My body, mind and spirit were in complete harmony.

I study the saxophone and as I ran, I began processing some of the jazz improve theory around a John Coltrane piece I had been studying. My feet danced along the red-dirt trail and my lungs heaved the ocean-air while my mind poured over scales, intervals, harmonics, chords, and all of the underlying structure of this jazz piece.

Suddenly my mind bloomed with extreme clarity and heretofore complex music theory started to making crystal-clear sense. Then even more profound musical concepts rose to the surface of my mind. I was discovering all of this deep musical theory, even hearing the sounds in my head, without the help of a teacher, music, a score, or even a saxophone.

The thought dawned on me that somewhere, there is a John Coltrane inside of me.

In that perfect moment, I was connected to Source which somehow helped me to understand Coltrane a little better. A yoga teacher once told me, “If you study one thing all the way to its root, you’ll understand everything else.” Now, I understand what he meant.

And if I understood the connection of all things, if I were truly tapped into Source like the Gayatri Mantra says, I’d be able to access that same power, soul, and knowledge that John Coltrane did. I’d see that I’m no different than John Coltrane. Understand, there are lifetimes of practice for me to access the Coltrane inside of me, but it’s there somewhere.

A Love Supreme

Coltrane was connected to Source. He called Source by the name of A Love Supreme, and named his masterpiece and what many say as the most spiritual jazz recording of all time, by the same name.

In this piece, he makes circles sonically and structurally; this chord and this phrase makes a logical, mathematical, and sonically pleasing transition to the next, and the next until the formula causes it to arrive all back to where it started.

The same way you might hear yogis chanting the Gayatri Mantra, in the A Love Supreme recording, you hear these priests of jazz chant, “A Love Supreme.” It feels as though they are evoking Source.

Coltrane’s message in this piece is that Source is A Love Supreme, the same Source as mentioned in the Gayatri Mantra. To fully understand the Source means to understand everything, including peace, jazz, and yourself.

This is enlightenment and it comes through notes rather than a yoga mat or a meditation cushion. Coltrane is saying that there are myriad paths to arrive to Source, A Love Supreme.

12 thousand years after its inception, we are still chanting the Gayatri Mantra. My hope is that people are chanting A Love Supreme, or at lease spinning the record, 12 thousand years from now.

Again, a theoretical understanding of Source isn’t the same as experiencing it. And it doesn’t discount the hours, weeks, years, and lifetimes of work and practice necessary to get there. Regardless, it’s there and our practice is the process of dismantling anything that would prevent us from seeing what’s already there.

What we practice in yoga is paying attention and we use breath, poses, and mediation to open our eyes and to take off the bandages to reveal what’s underneath.

I invite you to practice understanding and experiencing the Gayatri Mantra better. I invite you to practice removing the layers of anything within yourself that would prevent you and the world from seeing your own manifestation of Source, your Love Supreme.

Might I suggest listening to A Love Supreme this week?

Tell me about the moments when you’ve felt connected to source in the comments below.

Scott Moore Yoga

Photo by Dallas Graham

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in New York City and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Hawaii and Amalfi Coast and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

 

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