The mind is at birth a clean sheet, a tabula rasa, wrote John Locke. This column is yours. Sincerity, rather than writing skill, is the only requirement.


I have a question (many as a matter of fact). I find that asking questions is the first activity of the awakened other. This other — the awakened stranger, the child of Self — is helpless and vulnerable as an infant curled, before the cord’s cut, lying on the curve of the mother’s belly. Once the cord is cut, the first breath (in or out? the question is enormous) having been delivered, the other is seeded, like a grain of sand in an oysterling, waiting for the moment when the flesh becomes aware and begins to create the pearl of wisdom.

Query: if wisdom is a pearl, then what is a diamond?

— Ebba Kraar

Hey, man, what’s your mantra? Sorry, can’t tell ya. Why not? because it would bring my sacred syllable up to a very gross level of vibration and ruin six years of meditating. WHAT? Never mind, man I’m not gonna tell you.

Ah, yes, the mantra, gateway to heaven for those with $150, source of exasperation for the indigent. Herein lies a short history of the mantra, and how you can have one too for the low price of $4.98, complete with facial expression and smug reply to those who ask “and YOU meditate?”

The word mantra is derived from the Ukranian word Amanalestra which originally meant “meal in a sandwich.” For centuries, 36 to be exact, long before menus were used in restaurants in that part of the world, when hungry men gathered for lunch, AMANA-LESTRA would resound through the eatery and all present would fall into a salivating trance state and telepathically communicate to the waitress what kind of sandwich to fix. Salivating was an important aspect of salvation. There was the tomato aspect of salvation, as well.

Years later, as word travelled to other parts of the known world, other mantras became popular. In meat eating regions, people used the mantras SALAAM and BOLOGNE to enter a meditative state, repeating it over and over until lunch was served. These mantras didn’t achieve international popularity until Guru Oscar Meyerananda came to America.

Many meditative disciplines insist that the sound of the mantra, as vibration, alter the rate of vibration of certain chakra points, which are located along and near the spinal column. One such chakra is the stomach, and revered Swami Intestananda prescribes the mantra “gerrowwelll” for those with indigestion or unnatural food cravings. I highly recommend Swami’s book “Curried Food for Thought,” a collection of meditations taken from the highlights of Julia Child’s Indian tour of fast food restaurants.

Swami Intestananda’s spiritual friend and mentor, Marhj Salvananda instructs his devotees to use a mantra which increases energy flow to another chakra, one that is situated near the mouth. His favorite mantra is GANN*ASHHH, and his second favorite is bbbbeerrr, although he cautions one to use it only in colder weather.

What mantra is best for you? The best method of finding a mantra of your own is to ask everybody you know what word they use, and why. If it sounds good, use that one, but don’t tell anybody. Or, you can send $4.98 to 456 W. Franklin Street, along with your shoe, hat and ring size, and we will rush you, postpaid, by return mail, your personalized mantra, with instructions on breathing techniques and facial expressions. Don’t delay, only a limited number available.

— Bill Huntley

Half-Drunk Saturday Night in Berkeley: Prowling around up and down. Does travel broaden the mind or stand in the way of getting down to business?

But then what do we mean by travel? In the end it would seem that the peregrinations of the physical form are not that important one way or the other.

After all, life is for the living and not the analyzing (maybe I skipped a step there) . . . but trains of thought run wild, jump the tracks and get lost in the snow and you can’t pin it down, and you can’t pin it down, and you can’t pin it down. So let us relax, now that we’ve said our piece.

— I. Tinerant