The gardener has her seeds, the inspired cook his spices, and the satisfied poet her verses. The harmony I observe in this community of artisans in turn inspires me to continue crafting yoga prose. And through the course of careful observation I recently had the great fortune of learning from one of the most curious traveling experts I have ever come across. For Bill Barry, mantra is both a passion and profession. Yet, just like the traditional Chinese herbalist, Bill first and foremost views mantra as a practically helpful art. While offering two intimate workshops at Yoga Vermont, Bill openly shared many of the most beautiful, healing, and revealing mantras he’s encountered following decades of scholarship – each with deep roots in India and Tibet.
The emphasis of his first workshop session is the esoteric Hrit Padma chakra sometimes called the Sacred Heart. This special nexus of spiritual and energetic planes is espoused by Christian, Sufi, and Sikh mystics to name a few. But for Bill, as well as his guru, the late Thomas Ashley Farrand, the Hindu perspective, awakened by the cadence of mantras, resonates clearest. He explains, “There are fifty major ‘flower petals’ residing on our seven major chakras. Sanskrit comprises fifty phonetic [Bija] syllables each with power to evoke a singular petal; this is no mistake!” The special Bija sound, “Hrim,” evokes the Sacred Heart, not a distinct petal, but actually a subtle eight-petaled chakra residing directly below the more energetically prominent Anahata Chakra. Reciting mantras which stimulate Hrit Padma seem to connect participants with their spiritual nature. The method which Bill teaches here seems as mysterious as it is personally revealing.
“Om Shrim Hrim Klim Ganeshvaraya
Brahma Rupaya Charave
Sarve Siddhi Pradeshaya
Vigneshaya Namo Namaha”
Bill’s second workshop titled, “Dharma and you” focuses on applying mantra towards realizing our unique destinies. Sometimes Bill’s selections appear to be simply fashioned sets of Sanskrit ‘flower petals.’ Other times, the act of chanting evokes lavish Hindu symbolism as observed in the Ganeshvaraya Mantra, appearing above. But no matter which style resonates with you, both are said to achieve great results. Major accomplishments range from wish-fulfillment, to the removal of stubborn obstacles. Actually, the Ganeshvaraya Mantra is said to bring about both ends if practiced sincerely over time. By carefully selecting which powerful mantras to chant, one’s personal destiny can be gradually illumined. In short, I believe that both of Bill’s workshops are wonderful learning experiences towards self-realization. I cannot pick a favorite!