Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu
(“May all the beings in all the worlds be happy.”)
While with Amma over Thanksgiving 2013 in Detroit, in Amma’s last talk before giving darshan (hugging people) all night long and then going back to India, she asked everyone to chant “Lokaha Samastaha Sukhino Bhavantu” for 5 minutes two times a day. She asked us to make that commitment after saying something to the effect that the world is covered by dark clouds of hatred and anger and greed, and Amma is very concerned about it. We have heard her express that same observation and concern about the world situation many times, and we share that concern as I imagine do all of the people reading this article, and nearly all people on the planet of all political and religious beliefs. Chanting that prayer is one way we can help bring some Light into the Darkness.
Amma had asked her devotees to chant that prayer for 15 minutes a day after 9/11. Bodhi, our oldest boy, was in utero and Nikki and I figured that was the best thing we could do for him and the world he was coming into. We did that for months but got away from the practice not long after Bodhi was born, so when Amma asked us to do it again, we took it as guidance that we could not disregard and we began. Given the busyness of our lives, something most people are familiar with, we only do it for 5 minutes as part of our daily family practice. We figured that since there are 4 of us there (or a lot more when we do it on Fridays at the end of kirtan), that the prayers would be more powerful so that would make up a little for the less time spent doing it.
‘Why,” a person might ask, “would chanting a prayer/mantra over and over be helpful to the world?” I think the answer is succinctly revealed by a newer student’s (and partner of one of my current yoga teacher trainees) who told his partner that after about the 40th repetition (as we sang it at kirtan at Loving Kindness one Friday night), he started to think “yeah, why not happiness for ALL beings?” and it changed from being just words, or words accompanied by doubt, to a genuine feeling.
That same week I had been seeing/feeling in my meditation and in my practice of that prayer/mantra that the True Self IS that part of our Being inside that constantly radiates Good Will and Blessings to ALL BEINGS, by Its very Nature. That which radiates, or from which radiates, the desire for ALL BEINGS to be happy IS the True Self, or IS God. Another way to say it is that the True Self is revealed gradually and inexorably when the feeling of wanting to benefit ALL BEINGS is felt, known and strengthened.
If we chant or pray for the peace and happiness of all beings but don’t yet FEEL it, it only reveals a shortcoming in ourself, a smallness or a blocked-ness in ourself. However because the heartfelt wish for the happiness of ALL BEINGS is an inherent part of our deepest Being, even if it starts just as words, the repetition will inevitably and in due time clear away what blocks the feeling/experience of it. That deep part of our Being will resonate with our intention and with the meaning of the prayer and will lead to the natural and easy clearing away of whatever obscures Its Realization.
Of course if we are really sincere, or even a little sincere, in our desire for all being to be happy, our thoughts and feelings must lead us to meaningful and real action in the world. I think of that as one way to test the truth of my intentions. Certainly my prayers are one way to help the Light overcome the Darkness in the world if they remain as prayers, but if I become a more compassionate, positive, energetic and serviceful person as a result of my sincere prayers, the world will be benefitted psychically and materially. Of course I’m not totally selfless (yet), but personally I’m willing and interested in keeping going in that direction because it feels more fulfilling and satisfying than the other way.
Whatever your belief system, maybe you’d like to join in this 5 minute a day (or more) practice for the benefit of all beings… including yourself. You can listen to Ti and the Mother Lovers singing it at a past kirtan here.
Lokha Samastaha (MP3)