Okay, I don't mean to mock anybody's spiritual path, even if they were on Oprah, which generally equals fair game, at least in my world. This is just in the interest of quirky information. But I was flipping through that super-popular Eat, Pray, Love book, about a travel writer who's having a breakdown, post-divorce, and bags a book assignment to spend the year Italy, India, and Bali, and all the spiritual insight she gleans along the way.
She proposes India in the first place because she'd started meditating with some world-renowned Guru who was visiting the U.S., a woman who studied with some super-famous Swamiji. (The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, declines to give their real names, but she stresses their credentials). So she spends time at a remote ashram, learning to calm her thoughts.
Okay, that might be useful, to a point, but anyway, she gets an ancient Sanskrit mantra from the famous Guru, and these special words are: "Om Namah Shivaya" (ॐ नमःशिवाय).
The exact same words are emblazoned on the bracelet I was wearing at the time, which I bought for four dollars at a science fiction convention. The hippies at the booth had told me that whatever it said was, well, now I want to say auspicious, but I doubt that was the actual word. At any rate, it was supposed to draw in something positive, and I was like, heck yeah, I can always use that! Although mainly I bought it because it's really pretty.
When I came across it a few months ago, I was startled to discover that I could actually read the inscription, which made me feel I'm making some progress in Devanagari, despite my general slacking off.
I like to think it's more meaningful if the mantra finds you than the other way around, but I guess I would. I was raised by Scandinavian Taoists, after all, so the straight path isn't necessarily the one for me. Hmm, if I wrote a book about spiritual advancement, the Bollywood way, I wonder if I could get on Oprah. Well, if I did, I'd have to admit what I think of her book club selections, and the fallout would be terrible. And unfortunately, the obvious title, Accidental Enlightenment, is already taken. But once I've got more coffee in me, I'm sure I can do better...