Each word is like a precipice: you can take a jump into the valley of silence. From each word you can slip into silence. That is the use of a mantra. Mantra means repeating a single word again and again and again. When you repeat a single word again and again and again, you get bored with that word because the novelty is lost. You get fed up with that word, you want to get rid of that word. Boredom helps, it helps you to get rid of the word – now you can slip more easily into silence.
The silence is always there round the corner. If you go on repeating Ram, Ram, Ram… How long can you repeat it? Sooner or later you feel fed up, bored. The use of a mantra is to create such boredom that you want to get rid of it. That state is beautiful, because then there is no other way than to slip into silence. Leave the word behind and move into the gap; use the word as a jumping board and jump into the abyss.
If words change, as they always change… Ordinarily, of course, you are never fed up. A new word is always attractive, a new idea is always attractive, a new dream, a new desire, is always attractive. But if you can see that the mind is simply repeating the same thing again and again and again: either you fall asleep or you jump into silence, these are the two possibilities. And I know that most people who chant mantras fall into sleep. That too is a possibility which we have known for centuries.
Mothers know it well. When a child is not falling asleep they do a mantra. They call it a lullaby. They repeat just two or three words in a monotonous tone and the child starts feeling sleepy. Go on repeating and the child gets bored – and he cannot escape, he cannot go anywhere, so the only escape is into sleep. He says, “Go on repeating. I am going to sleep!” and he falls asleep.
Many chanters of mantras fall asleep, hence the use of Transcendental Meditation for people who suffer from sleeplessness; hence its appeal in America. Insomnia has become a normal thing. The more insomnia there is, the more will be the appeal of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi because people need some tranquilizers. A mantra is a perfect tranquilizer, but that is not its real use. There is nothing wrong in it; if it gives you good sleep, goo – but that is not its real use.
It is as if you are using an airplane like a bullock cart. You can use it, you can put the airplane behind bullocks and use it as a bullock car – nothing wrong in it, it will serve a little purpose, but that is not its use. You could soar very high with it.
A mantra has to be used with full awareness that this is to create boredom, and you are to remember not to fall asleep. Otherwise, you miss. Don’t fall asleep. Go on repeating the mantra and don’t allow yourself to fall into sleep. So it is better if you repeat the mantra standing, or repeat it walking, so that you don’t fall asleep.
One of the great disciples of Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, was dying. The doctors told him to rest but he would not rest; instead he continued walking the whole night. They thought he had gone crazy. He was dying, his energy was disappearing – what was he doing? This was the time to rest; he would die sooner if he went on walking. But he would not stop.