Posted by: Elder and Sister Hambelton | September 23, 2012

Mormon Mantras

Some time ago I became acquainted with the concept of mantras as used in meditation practices in several Eastern religions. As I understand it, they use chanting or meditating with mantras to free themselves from distracting thoughts and sensory experience to the extent that it allows them to escape the world and focus completely on communing with the Divine. Although I found it interesting, it is not a standard practice within our religious tradition and I did not think much more about it.  Recently however, I ran across an LDS chaplain who had written about the value and spiritual benefit of meditation and mantras and who wrote about “Mormon Mantras.” He offered this definition of mantras (in part):

“The word mantra is defined in two ways. Most dictionaries focus on its origins in Eastern traditions, in which a mantra is a sacred, verbal formula repeated in prayer or mediation. In the past century, it has also become common to use the term to refer to any often repeated word, formula, slogan, or stock phrase. . ..”

He went on to describe several kinds of mantras and the function they could serve within the LDS religious culture. One function he described is using formula mantras consisting of scriptural verses, quotes or phrases repeated often to help you in your daily living of the gospel, to give you power to endure and persist, and which can free your mind and perspective to be more open to spiritual truth.

I realized that the practice of repeating some verse of scripture, quote or slogan to encourage and sustain us, or remind us of a truth or covenant commitment is a practice often engaged in by Mormons.

And it has been interesting to me to realize how often we have used mantra’s in our mission experience. A mission is an amazing and uplifting experience and a deeply challenging and stretching experience; at least ours has been. In the course of our mission we have adopted several mantra’s as we have labored to do all we can to serve the Lord in this assignment. They have been meaningful to us, encouraging us and reminding us of our real desires in serving here. Some have come from the Scotland/Ireland mission, some from our reading, some from our own invention, but all have been and continue to be a useful means for us to stay focused, encouraged and committed. To date our mantra’s (words we repeat often to our selves and each other) have included:

  • What ere thou art, act well thy part– the motto from David O. McKay that became his mission mantra and has been adopted by the Scotland/Ireland mission as it’s motto.
  • Forget yourself and go to work. – the advice Gordon B Hinckley received from his father on his mission to England when he was discouraged, feeling sorry for himself and complaining.
  • We did not come here to sit around– a statement we have said to each other and to others when taking on some new assignment. It is not only a reminder of our desire to be anxiously engaged, but it is a point of humor as we look upon our expanding portfolio of work and assignments and laughingly suggest to each other that we never should have adopted this one.
  • Till the work is done- another Scotland/Ireland mission motto, expressing the sentiment that we must not stop until the Master says the work is done.
  • Bring our family home to the temple, and back to our Heavenly Father – the phrase that came to me in the temple in Preston as to the real purpose in every kind of missionary work.
  • Put it all on the altar, nothing reserved- the phrase we used to pay tribute to our first mission president and wife upon their release, and the promise we made to ourselves of how we wanted to feel about our service when our work was done.
  • We did not come for the weeds, we came for the Savior– a truth expressed by President Eyring in retelling a story about his father weeding in a patch of onions already sprayed with herbicide on a stake welfare farm. We adopted it to remind ourselves when we are tempted to focus on the “weeds” of cultural and personal shortcomings in our mission, that we did not come to pick the weeds, nor even to make a difference; we came as a simple expression of our commitment to serve the Lord, because of our testimony and our love of the Savior.
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Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing my Rice Man. It was very kind of you to share these thoughts.

    Keith

  2. I never thought of it that way, indeed, we have mantras! Yours are great, thanks for sharing.

  3. Loved this post! These are great mantras. I have used your last one only mine is, “We’re not here for the onions.” It reminds me that all our service and work is for God and Christ. You are setting a great example for us and I feel great love for you as I read your posts. May we do half as well when the time comes. Thanks for being our friends!

  4. Good reminders…I love mantras. Whenever I move I always repeat the words my mother shared over and over when moving was hard for me “Bloom where you are planted”. I am trying once again to do just that. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a wonderful service you are for the people of Scotland, God bless you each and every day!!


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