|Important Teachings on the Mantra- OM MANI PADME HUNG HOME Mani Program|
The Mantra of Compassion, OM MANI PADME HUM, is pronounced by Tibetans: Om Mani Pémé Hung. It embodies the compassion and blessing of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, and invokes especially the blessing of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion. Avalokiteshvara is a manifestation of the Buddha in the Sambhogakaya, and his mantra is considered the essence of the Buddha’s compassion for all beings. Just as Padmasambhava is the most important master for the Tibetan people, Avalokiteshvara is their most important Buddha, and the karmic deity of Tibet. There is a famous saying that the Buddha of Compassion became so embedded in the Tibetan consciousness that any child who could say the word “mother” could also recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM.
Countless ages ago, it is said, a thousand princes vowed to become buddhas. One resolved to become the Buddha we know as Gautama Siddhartha; Avalokiteshvara, however, vowed not to attain enlightenment until all the other thousand princes had themselves become buddhas. In his infinite compassion, he vowed too to liberate all sentient beings from the sufferings of the different realms of samsara. Before the buddhas of the ten directions, he prayed “May I help all beings, and if ever I tire in this great work, may my body be shattered into a thousand pieces.” First, it is said, he descended into the hell realms, ascending gradually through the world of hungry ghosts, up to the realm of the gods. From there he happened to look down and saw, aghast, that though he had saved innumerable beings from hell, countless more were pouring in. this plunged him into the profoundest grief; for a moment he almost lost faith in that noble vow he had taken, and his body exploded into a thousand pieces. In his desperation, he called out to all the buddhas for help, who came to his aid from all directions of the universe, as one text said, like a soft blizzard of snowflakes. With their great power the buddhas made him whole again, and from then on Avalokiteshvara had eleven heads, and a thousand arms, and each palm of each hand was an eye, signifying that union of wisdom and skillful means that is the mark of true compassion. In this form, he was even more resplendent and empowered thatn before to help all beings, and his compassion grew even more intense as again and again, he repeated this vow before the buddhas: “Mat I not attain final buddhahood before all sentient beings attain enlightenment.”
It is said that in his sorrow at the pain of samsara, two tears fell from his eyes: through the blessings of the buddhas, they were transformed into the two Taras. One is Tara in here green form, who is the active force of compassion, and the other is Tara in her white form, who is compassion’s motherly aspect. The name Tara means “she who liberates”: she who ferries us across the ocean of samsara.
It is written in the Mahayana Sutras that Avalokiteshvara gave his mantra to the Buddha himself, and Buddha in turn granted him the special and noble task of helping all beings in the universe toward buddhahood. At this moment all the gods rained flowers on them, the earth shook, and the air rang with the sound OM MANI PADME HUM HRIH.
In the words of the poem:
Avalokiteshvara is like the moon
Whose cool light puts out the burning fires of samsara
In its rays the night-flowering lotus of compassion
Opens wide its petals.
The teachings explain that each of the six syllables of the mantra – OM MA NI PAD MÉ HUM – has a specific and potent effect in bringing about transformation at different levels of our being. The six syllables purify completely the six poisonous negative emotions, which are the manifestation of ignorance, and which cause us to act negatively with our body, speech, and mind, so creating samsara and our suffering in it. Pride, jealously, desire, ignorance, greed, and anger are transformed, through the mantra, into their pure nature, the wisdoms of the six Buddha families that become manifest in the enlightened mind.
So when we recite OM MANI PADME HUM, the six negative emotions, which are the cause of the six realms of samsara, are purified. This is how reciting the six syllables prevents rebirth in each of the six realms, and also dispels the suffering inherent in each realm. At the same time reciting OM MANI PADME HUM completely purifies the aggregates of ego, the skandhas, and prefects the six kinds of transcendental action of the heart of the enlightened mind, the paramitas of: generosity, harmonious conduct, endurance, enthusiasm, concentration, and insight. It is also said that OM MANI PADME HUM grants strong protection from all kinds of negative influences, and various different forms of illness.
Often HRIH, the “seed-syllable” of Avalokiteshvara, is added to the mantra to make OM MANI PADME HUM HRIH. The essence of the compassion of all the Buddhas, HRIH, is the catalyst that activates the compassion of the Buddhas to transform our negative emotions into their wisdom nature.
Kalu Rinpoche writes:
Another way of interpreting the mantra is that the syllable OM is the essence of the enlighted form; MANI PADME, the four syllables in the middle, represent the speech of enlightenment; and the last syllable, HUM, represents the mind of enlightenment. The body, speech, and mind of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas are inherent in the sound of this mantra. It purifies the obscurations of body, speech and mind, and brings all beings to the state of realization. When it is joined with our own faith and efforts in mediation and recitation, the transformative power of the mantra arises and develops. It is truly pssible to purify ourselves in this way.
For those who are familiar with the mantra and have recited it with fervor and faith all their lives, the Tibetan Book of the Dead prays that in the bardo: “When the sound of dharmata roars like a thousand thunders, may it all become the sound of the six-syllables.”
Similarly we read in the Surangama Sutra:
How sweetly mysterious is the transcendental sound of avalokiteshvara. It is the primodial sound of the universe. .. it is the subdued murmur of the sea-tide setting inward. Is mysterious sound brings liberation and peace to all sentient beings who in their pain are calling out for help, and it brings a sense of serene stability to all those who are seeking Nirvana’s boundless peace.
by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG, but while you are doing it, you should be reflecting on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast. The first, OM is composed of three letters, A U and M. These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body and mind of a Buddha.
Can impure body, speech and mind be transformed into pure body, speech and mind, or are they entirely separated? All Buddhas are cases of beings who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who, from the beginning, is free from faults and possesses all good qualities. The development of pure body, speech and mind comes from gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into the pure.
How is this done? The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factor of method— the altruistic intention to become enlightened, with compassion and love. Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty or difficulties found in cyclic existence and solitary peace. Similarly, just as a jewel fulfils the wishes of sentient beings, the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfils the wishes of sentient beings.
The two syllables PADME, meaning lotus, symbolizes wisdom. Just as a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom. There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing that sentient beings are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality (that is to say, of the segregation created between subjects and objects) and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are many different types of wisdom, the main one is the wisdom realizing emptiness.
Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final HUNG, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom supported by method and method supported by wisdom. In the mantra or Vajrayana vehicle, it refers to one’s consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one non-differentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the five Conqueror Buddhas, HUNG is the seed syllable of Akshobhya – the immovable, the non-fluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.
Thus the six syllables OM MANI PADME HUNG, means that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha. It is said that you should not seek for Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within. As Maitreya says in his SUBLIME CONTINUUM OF GREAT VEHICLE (UTTARATANTRA), all beings naturally have the Buddha nature in their own continuum. We have within us the feed of purity, the essence of a One Gone. Thus it is (TATHAGATAGARBHA) that is be to transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood.
(From a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the Kalmuch Mongolian Buddhist Center, New Jersey). Transcribed by Ngawang Tashi (Tsawa), Drepung Loseling, MUNGOD INDIA.
The Six-Syllabled Mantra ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ IS THE HEART MANTRA OF Bodhisattva Avolokiteshvara (Guanyin) as well as all the Buddhas. Avoloketeshvara is the compassionate embodiment of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; the mantra is the essence of the 84,000 teachings of the Buddhas.
Reciting ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ is all-powerful and brings blessing to all sentient beings in the six realms of existence. The benefits of reciting the ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ are:
The pronunciation of each syllable of ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ must be clear and distinct. During recitation of ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’, it is very important that we evoke loving kindness and compassion for all sentient beings, who were like our mothers, wishing that they will be liberated and reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha, the Pure Land of Akshobhya or the Pure Land of Orgyen (Guru Padmasambhava).
The reason why all sentient beings could have been our mothers is that, since the beginningless time, we have been wandering in samsara, due to karma and ignorance. We take on numerous lives, and suffer countless births and deaths. In each life we have a “mother”, and these “mothers” in our previous lives loved and cared for us, just as our mother does in this life. Therefore, it’s beyond our expression to repay the kindness rendered us by all sentient beings in this capacity as “mother”. All there “mother” sentient beings wish for happiness and to be free from suffering. They too want to be out of samsara but owing to karma and ignorance, they are still trapped and thus suffering in it. Therefore we need to be loving and compassionate to them. Reciting ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ with heart-felt kindness and compassion for all sentient beings brings about inconceivable merits and blessing.
The pronunciation of ‘OM MANI PADME HUNG’ must be clear and distinct. Sometimes people pronounce ‘OM’ as ‘OR’, which is incorrect. It should be pronounced as ‘OM’ instead. Each of the six syllables in the mantra has its own meaning and function, and can sever the root of the six realms of reincarnation. It is therefore very important not to miss any single syllable while reciting. During recitation, the ‘OM’ at the beginning and the ‘HUM’ at the end must not be joined as one syllable but be clear and distinct. Otherwise, this well cause defects and obstruction and we will not be able to be reborn in the Pure Land.
At the end of the recitation, we must dedicate our merits to all sentient beings who are like our mothers, wishing them to be free from sufferings, liberation from samsara and purification of all their negative karma. We must also dedicate to the spreading and thriving of the Buddha Dharma.
More on Om Mani Padme
Praising the Great Compassionate One with Body, Speech and Mind
Embodiment of the wisdom and compassion of the sugatas of the three times,
Nirmanakaya blessed by Amitabha,
Supremely accomplished in aspiration, activity, and compassion,
Buddha-sons and arhat disciples,
Along with yidams, dharmapalas, and the Three Jewels, the Supreme refuge,
Assembly of Great Compassionate Ones equal in number to the atoms of the universe,
Limitless source of good qualities who benefits beings:
Help me to accomplish the altruistic thought!
I and my relatives, retinue, and disciples,
And others, alive or dead, who have faith in me,
Who are intent on liberation and hope to gain happiness and,
To accomplish this, serve and help me in many ways,
Who make the four kinds of offerings and provide me with the place where I reside,
Servants who strive with body, speech, and mind to supply the necessities of food, clothing, drink, and offerings of meat,
Who, in order to survive, take the lives of others who threaten them
And take what they want by force,
Those who support me, those who obstruct me, and those who are neutral,
Those I have seen, heard of or remember, or have contacted in various ways,
The beings of the three realms –
When our lives come to an end and we approach Yama, the Lord of Death,
Nothing will help and we will experience great regret for our bad deeds.
May we realize the appearances of bardo as illusion.
Reverse the misfortune of a lower birth.
Receive us through Phowa, Chenrezig.
From death, the appearance of bardo may dawn.
When projections all appear as enemies,
Like a walking stick that levels an uneven road,
Be our inseparable guide, Chenrezig.
Under the influence of desire and hatred,
We see inferior states as something good.
When we grow attached to these projections,
Close the door to the
Join us with the jewel of a human birth, Chenrezig.
Some burn and cook in hells
And suffer for many kalpas in those intolerable fires.
Bring the water of love and fresh rain of compassion,
And dispel the fire of hatred, Chenrezig.
Some, in the realm of hungry ghosts,
Lack food and drink.
May they satisfied by an endless stream of treasure from your hand,
And may your fingers loose the knot of their clinging, Chenrezig.
Some, in the realm of animals, eat one another.
They are exploited and killed for their meat and skin.
When they become enveloped in the thick darkness of ignorance,
Light the torch of wisdom, Chenrezig.
Some, in the realm of jealous god,
Fight and wage war and suffer helplessly in battle.
May the cool shadow of the great mountain of equanimity
Block the wind of envy, Chenrezig.
Some enjoy bliss in the realm of the gods.
Heedless of the passing years, they die and fall.
May they cross the ocean of desire
On the wonderful ship of compassion, Chenrezig.
Into the ocean of the three kinds of suffering
Where the waves of grasping and fixation sway like dancers,
Human beings are swept by the four rivers of birth, old age, sickness and death.
Rescue them with the iron hook of compassion, Chenrezig.
From the parents of self-grasping are born children
Wearing the armor of grasping and fixation.
They hurl a rain of weapons of the five poisons.
Bring these maras to the Dharma, Chenrezig.
As a fly is attracted to filth,
We see samsara as happiness and there, without rest,
We invite the causes of sorrow with body, speech, and mind.
Stop these meaningless actions, Chenrezig.
May all beings attain a body capable of religion
And attend authentic spiritual friends.
May they respect them, and may their minds be ripened by the teachings.
May they see them as the Buddha, Chenrezig.
Having understood the meaning of the absolute and relative Dharma through hearing,
Having actualized the Samadhi of calm abiding and insight through contemplation,
And having gained the realization of the view free of boundary through meditation,
May they see the mother, mind-as-such, Chenrezig.
By our planting the seed of morality with the power of a renounced mind,
The leaves and branches of bodhicitta grow, benefiting others.
From them arise the blossoms of the developing and completion stages of the secret mantra.
Ripen the fruit of the three trainings, Chenrezig.
May we properly practice what is to be taken up and what is to be abandoned,
And increase the two accumulations by practicing the six perfections.
We are tightly bound by the eight worldly dharmas and our expectation of great fame.
May we cut the rope of that attachment, Chenrezig.
May we fully accomplish the qualities of the paths and stages,
And attain the state of the buddhas who have abandoned all faults and possess supreme qualities.
Having attained the nirmanakaya,
May we spontaneously benefit others, Chenrezig.
In all my relationships, whether good or bad,
With all sentient beings, especially my parents,
May I not attain enlightenment until they do.
May I benefit them as you do, chenrezig.
Through ignorance, beings mistake the path and are tortured by suffering.
They are difficult to tame and were not chosen for rescue by the buddhas of the past.
May my cultivation of bodhicitta, benefiting beings,
Surpass that of all the buddhas of the three times, Chenrezig.
May my suffering be sufficient for the greater suffering of all beings,
And may I offer them all my virtue and prosperity.
With joy, may I offer my life for their benefit, Chenrezig.
With a mind of steadfast equanimity toward all,
Whether they are superior, inferior, or common,
May I purify the karma of those who, with hatred, cause harm like a poisonous snake and
May I fully liberate them, Chenrezig.
May we constantly think only of others’ benefit
And not think of our own comfort even for an instant.
If negative thoughts arise, contrary to Dharma,
Transform them into Dharma, Chenrezig.
By the power of the pure expanse of Dharma, and of the Three Jewels that are without deceit,
By the power of the accomplished deities and the altruistic thought,
And by the virtue of samsara and nirvana,
By the truth of all these, may this aspiration quickly be accomplished, Chenrezig.
By this prayer, may I always follow without interruption the glorious lama of many lifetimes
And the supreme Padmapani, the sugata of the three times.
May this quickly be accomplished, Chenrezig.
Thus, this supplication to the Arya for the benefit of oneself and others was written by the bhikshu Könchog Ratna, who was chosen by Chökyi Gyalpo, the Vajradhara of Drigung.
May virtue increase!
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Last updated on 2014-05-03.