Robert Frost spoke of how certain lines of great poetry stick to one like burrs caught on a country walk. One line he often recalled was from a Shakespeare sonnet: ‘He that has power to hurt and will do none.’ That, he said, had meant a great deal to him.
The mental repetition of a meaningful phrase, or even a particular word, has the power to penetrate one’s whole being. The words resonate with increasing intensity and we begin to sense new layers of possibility. This is not an intellectual or analytical exercise; rather, it is one of allowing the words to sink deeper and deeper, like pebbles dropping into a pool, so that, whether out walking, waiting for a bus, washing dishes, or waking in the night, the mantra goes on tolling like a temple bell – summoning us to what is beyond and yet, at the same time, closer than close.
But a warning! If we just say the words mechanically or gabble them hurriedly we won’t get very far. And we won’t go very deep. It is slow, quiet, repetition that will, gradually, over time, penetrate our innermost being.