When Gandi was assassinated at point blank range, he put his palms together in this way towards his attacker, uttered his mantra and died.It allowed him to choose the attitude he would take in that very moment he was being robbed of his life. He didn’t die angry or even surprised. But he had trained himself to march to the drumbeat of his own growing vision of what constituted wise action.
The Hand Mantra
All hand positions are mantras in that they are associated with subtle or not-so-subtle energies. Take the fist. When we get angry our hands tend to close into fists. It waters the seeds of anger and violence within you every time and they respond by sprouting and growing stronger. The next time you find yourself making fists out of anger try to bring mindfulness to the inner attitude embodied in the fist – feel the tension, the hatred, the anger, the aggression and fear it contains.
Then, in the midst of your anger, as an experiment, try opening your fists and placing your palms together over your heart in the prayer position. Notice what happens to the anger and hurt as you hold this position for only a few moments. I find it virtually possible to sustain my anger when I do this.
It’s not that the anger may not be justified, it’s just that all sorts of other feelings come into play, which frames the anger and tempers it – feelings like sympathy and compassion for the other person and perhaps a greater understanding of the dance we are both in.
The dance of one thing leading to another, of the consequences set into motion – the end result can lead to ignorance compounding ignorance, aggression compounding aggression, with no wisdom anywhere or – we can do the hand mantra, as Gandi had done in his last moments on this earth.
– Jon Kabat-Zinn p. 114 – Wherever You Go There You Are – Mindfullness Meditayions 1994.