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I read this book sometime in the early 80s and can't remember the title or the author and can't find it anywhere. I'm hoping this is familiar to someone:

Set in the future, of course, where only the very rich live well with the rest of the planet devolved into a brutal place. A very rich and sick old man has a beautiful and brainy young woman as his secretary. One night he sends her home, as usual, in his fortified limousine, but this time something goes very wrong. She ends up brain dead, supposedly, and his brain ends up being implanted into her (first transplant of this kind). However, things end up not being what they seem --- her consciousness (memories, etc.) are still very much intact. The two of them must learn to get along in one body and they have much to teach each other. In particular, I remember her meditation phrase that goes something like oom mani padi oom.

  • I don't know the answer to the question, but science is learning that our brains aren't the only part of our nervous system that contains the "mind" whatever that actually might be. They are discovering that quite a bit of your nervous system holds our mind. Including of all things, your gut has quite a bit of your mind in it. – Escoce Nov 2 '15 at 18:54
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    Although not it, it sounds like the plot point of Self/Less and Seconds – Möoz Nov 2 '15 at 21:29
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    @Escoce Got a citation for the claim that your gut has quite a bit of your mind it it? That sounds fascinating! – user11521 Nov 3 '15 at 2:10
  • @Michael That would give quite a new spin to phrases like "gut feeling," wouldn't it? – Angew Nov 3 '15 at 11:22
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    I'm glad it was only his brain that was inserted into her body... – Rand al'Thor Nov 4 '15 at 0:56
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I Will Fear No Evil, by Robert Heinlein.The story was first published in 1970, so having read it in the early 80s is very plausible. As to the plot, the Wikipedia page provides a summary (emphasis mine):

The story takes place in the early 21st century against a background of an overpopulated Earth with a violent, dysfunctional society. Elderly billionaire Johann Sebastian Bach Smith is being kept alive through medical support and decides to have his brain transplanted into a new body. He advertises an offer of a million dollars for the donation of a body from a brain-dead patient. Smith omits to place any restriction on the sex of the donor, so when his beautiful young female secretary, Eunice Branca, is murdered, her body is used. He changes his name to Joanne Eunice Smith.

After Smith awakens after the transplant, he discovers he can communicate with Eunice's personality. They agree not to reveal her existence, fearing that they would be judged insane and locked up. Smith's identity is unsuccessfully challenged by his descendants, who hope to inherit his fortune. Smith and Eunice decide to have a baby together and so they (Joanne) are artificially inseminated using Smith's sperm from the sperm bank. Joanne (Smith) explores her new sexuality at length. They (Johann & Eunice/Joanne) go to visit Eunice's widower, Joe Branca, to try and help reconcile him to what has happened.

Joanne marries her lawyer, Jake Salomon, and moves her household and friends onto a boat. Jake has a massive rupture of a large blood vessel in his brain and dies but his personality is saved and joins Smith and Eunice in Joanne's head. She (Smith, Eunice & Jake) emigrates to the moon to find a better future for her (Smith & Eunice's) child. Once there, her body starts to reject her (Smith's) transplanted brain. She dies during childbirth.

The chant mentioned in the question sounds very much like "Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ", a traditional mantra in certain sects of Tibetan Buddhism. With a nod to Ross Presser for tracking this down, here's a quote from the book demonstrating its use:

“Start us. Remember the breathing. I’ll get in step.”

“Om Mani Padme Hum.”

(Om Mani Padme Hum. See that aura round her, Boss? She must have had quite a night.) (Shut up, Eunice; these prayers were your idea.) “Om Mani Padme Hum.”

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    Saw this question out of the corner of my eye while looking at Stack Overflow and wanted to make sure this answer was here. – methuseus Nov 3 '15 at 6:43
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    Was this book, by any chance, the basis for that movie with Emilio Estevez, Freejack? EDIT: nvm, Freejack was apparantly based on Immortality Inc.. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immortality,_Inc. – Vincent Vancalbergh Nov 3 '15 at 7:40
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    OMG, I have searched off and on for a year and it's answered in one day. Marvelous Jason!! I love Heinlein -- can't believe I didn't know it was one of his. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This answer is perfect and the om quote is right on target. – Debby Nov 3 '15 at 19:16

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