Impact of mantra recital, etc.

Jan E.M. Houben jhouben at RULLET.LEIDENUNIV.NL
Wed May 10 14:52:58 UTC 2000

I would suggest that if anything "universally valid" is to be found in this
direction some comparative approach is required rather than "navelgazing" on
the uniqueness of the Indian material. (Probably Witzel intended something
similar in his parenthetical "The results mentioned by some go squarely
against his express stress on [the repetition] of *any* syllable/word.) Even
then, at the end some techniques may be more/less effective (e.g. in
relaxing etc.) than others, but this is a score on a relative scale. And
among the relatively more effective ones there may or may not be more
techniques originating in / being developed in South Asia than in other
regions. This would again be a score on a relative scale.
Among one of my older files of articles on Vedic there is a stray clipping
on Gregorian chant which appeared in the Brain/Mind bulletin (USPS 124-350)
of March 4, 1985 on experiences of a French physician Alfred Tomatis: " ...
Gregorian chants ... were like a 'respiratory yoga'. Those who chanted
appeared to slow their breath and induced listeners into their own state of
tranquility. "
"Tomatis has visited Benedictine monasteries ... At one retreat in France, a
young abbot ... severely cut back on the time the monks spent chanting and
noticed that they soon began to grow sluggish and sleep more. Tomatis was
called in. He reintroduced their lengthy chanting schedule. Soon ... they
were sleeping less, working more and feeling better."
The orignal query on Impact of mantra recital ... asked for a web-page:
these were still inexistent in 1985; but reference is made to a "Tomatis
centre, 1121 Bellamy Road N. #12, Scarborough Ont."
On the effects of mantras and sounds see also J.F. Staal's Exploring
Mysticism (more elaborate on this issue than Staal's Rules Without Meaning
which was mentioned earlier in this connection).
Jan E.M. Houben,
Kern Institute, Leiden University,
P.O. Box 9515, NL-2300 RA   Leiden
jhouben at RULLET.LeidenUniv.NL
-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Witzel <witzel at FAS.HARVARD.EDU>
Date: Wednesday, May 10, 2000 3:51 AM
Subject: Re: Impact of mantra recital, etc.

>Re: Dr.  Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and of the Mind/Body
>(   ) ...
>.... I heard it from the H[orse]'s mouth last Friday in a local conf. about
>Benson has no prejudice/preconceived idea about any religion/technique and
>has worked with several of them.
>His claims therefore should be seriously compared with those mentioned on
>the list, whether
>consisting of just 1 or some 500 studies...
>(The results mentioned by some go squarely against his express stress on
>reptetion of *any* syllable/word)
>And  (difference in) research methods should be highlighted as well.
>I leave all of that to our medical & hightech shamans, not the zramaNa!
>Michael Witzel
>Department of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University
>2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge MA 02138, USA
>ph. 1- 617-496 2990 (also messages)
>home page:
>Elect. Journ. of Vedic Studies:

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