The verse portions of the Vedas, believed by some to have magical effects if properly pronounced. Most are hymns addressed to various nature gods like Indra, Varuna, Agni, Soma, the twin Ashvins, etc...

The poetry can be quite profound and it reveals a fundamentally inquisitive spirit that refuses to be satisfied by rigid dogma and questions everything, including the existance/omniscience of the eternal.

A phrase or line which an improviser will keep running through their mind during a scene to provide the motivation for their character.

Useful tool to give improv scenes a more realistic feel (it creates a subtext); the mantra may be a helpful shortcut for non-actors to play more believable characters onstage. As a mantra, "I love you" can make scenes less jokey and emotionally richer. The mantra "I am healthy and fit" is useful for combatting hostility and negative choices in scenes. The mantra does not have to be spoken aloud by the performers.

(Hinduism, Sanskrit: manah "mind" + tra "freeing")

a transcendental sound vibration that frees the mind from material thoughts; an incantation.

Track 4 on Tool's 2001 album Lateralus. An instrumental interlude between the songs The Patient and Schism.

Note that I use the word "instrumental" in its loosest sense; there are no discernable instruments on this track. In fact, no one is quite sure yet what on earth this is. It has been theorized that it may be a series of heavily distorted whale calls, or simply some meditative chanting, as the title would suggest.

I have heard, though, that this track features "...a debut performance of a very special guest who also happens to be very close to one of the band members...". My personal best guess is that one of the band members will soon (or has recently) become a father, and this is a recording somehow related to that child. A recording of the fetus in the womb? The audio of an ultrasound? Maybe.

Of course, maybe this is just Tool's way of fucking with our heads again. If you have any theories you'd like to add, /msg me.

Uberfetus has informed me that Maynard has a son named Devo. We're getting there...

And the mystery may be solved: according to an interview with Maynard in the Japanese magazine Buzz, this track is the sound of him squeezing one of his siamese cats. It made such a weird noise that he recorded it, played it back super-slow, and made a track out of it.

Although Tool is renowned for outright lying to the press, this does seem to match up with what little information we had previously. I'd venture that it's probably solid.

Thanks to the Tool FAQ (

All religions use some kind of singing, chanting or reciting as part of their practice. It can help meditation, foster a sense of well-being and inspiration or aid learning, among other uses.

Chanting has been an integral part of Buddhism since its inception 2500 years ago with the Buddha; Siddartha Gautama. After the Buddhas death, at the first meeting of the Buddhist council, the monk Ananda recited in full all the sermons he had attended - and this is why all Sutras begin with "Thus I have heard". If Sutras are read, especially the early Pali language canon, such as those in the Tripitaka, they are highly repetitious, and obviously laid out in a way where the recitation is aided by the constant repeating of certain phrases. Since the Buddha was illiterate and so were most of his monks, the teachings were not physically recorded for centuries - this was also a way of protecting them from others. Regular meetings, the main ones being the Buddhist Councils were intended to ensure that the Sutras were memorised correctly by all the different groups of monks, and so avoiding errors.

A specific part of this recitation/chanting practice is the use of "Mantras". Many other religions use them, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity being examples. For example "Hail Mary" and "Our Father" as used in Catholicism are a very good parallel, the use of the Rosary mirroring the use of the Buddhist Mala. The number of recitations is usually fixed on significant numbers - for short mantras, 108 repetitions or multiples of 108 are used.

Mantras are used in the Buddhist religion in several ways. They can be used as invocations or prayers, where a specific Bodhisattva or deity is invoked for protection, or they can be used as a meditational tool. Mantras are usually short, but several common ones have 100 or 108 syllable versions. These then become more like the longer Dharanis, which are far more like "spells" - a complicated, seemingly meaningless and long series of words and syllables, often occurring at the end of a Sutra, or at the end of a chapter in a Sutra.

A mantra is often, but certainly not alway, linked to a Bodhisattva or Buddha:

Sometimes the mantra is actually linked to a concept, and the chanting is done to try and emphasise the importance of the concept:

  • Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha - from the Heart Sutra.
  • Sabbe Satta Suki Hontu - A mantra roughly meaning "may all beings be at peace". (See also this excellent node...

These mantras are chanted in groups, for example in a monastery, or can be chanted by a lone practitioner. They are designed to have a meditative effect, and when chanted out loud resonate in the chest and throat, the sensations of this increasing the effect of the practice.

The specific pronunciation of the mantra used is not vitally important. As Buddhism has spread from country to country, the pronunciation has changed, but the effects are the same - it is the devotion to the practice that is important. Most mantras do not have a specific literal meaning, and those that have are not to be thought of intellectually. The emotional and physiological effects of the devotional practice and meditation are far more important.

Mantras have become most important in two forms of Buddhism - Pure Land and Vajrayana. Vajrayana is sometimes referred to as "Mantrayana", or spell vehicle. The use of mantras and sacred syllables are a core asepect of tantric practices. In Pure Land Buddhism, highly popular in Japan, the goal is to recite the name of the Buddha called Amitabha and so become reborn in his Pure Land. Once there, the goal of enlightenment is made easier, and there is no suferring to endure while practicing. The practice of the reciting Amitabha's name is known in Japan as the Nembutsu.

Man"tra (?), n. [Skr.]

A prayer; an invocation; a religious formula; a charm.


⇒ Among the Hindoos each caste and tribe has a mantra peculiar to itself; as, the mantra of the Brahmans.

Balfour (Cyc. of India).


© Webster 1913.

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