Martha McCoy skillfully transforms her perceptive observations of a snail into an insightful poem.
While her use of “mantra” is appropriate, it is yet another example of how a word’s meaning can become generalized.
The word began in the Vedic tradition of India. Vedism was practiced there from about 1500 BC to 500 BC and was a precursor to Hinduism, according to Wikipedia. Mantras were also part of Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
In Hinduism, a mantra was a “hymn or portion of text, especially from the Veda, chanted or intoned as an incantation or prayer,” according to Webster’s.
“The Sanskrit word mantra- … consists of the root man- ‘to think’ (also in manas ‘mind’) and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be ‘instrument of thought,’” Wikipedia notes.
A writer for The Meditation Den describes mantras as “sounds, syllables, words or groups of words that are repeated with the goal of creating a positive transformation within the person.”
“Mantra” now frequently means a word or phrase that is repeated so often it becomes a truism.
Even considering the word’s altered meaning, the snail’s mantra may be worthwhile to remember whenever life seems daunting. Even when progress seems to move at a snail’s pace, we probably should just push on.
The Om syllable (believed to be the "Sound of the Universe") is considered a mantra in its own right in Vedanta mysticism.
Caption and illustration courtesy of Wikipedia
Photo of a grapevine (Helix Pomatia) snail courtesy of Wikipedia