Mantra of Compassion - Om Mani Padme Hung
The Meaning of the Mantra Excerpted from Chenrezig Lord of Love by Bokar Rinpoche (Chapter One, The Nature of the Deity)
Mantras are a sound manifestation coming from emptiness.
They are the authentic sound of emptiness.
Mantras are very often the names of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, or deities. For instance, OM MANI PADME HUNG is a way of naming Chenrezig. From an absolute point of view, Chenrezig does not have a name, but he is designated by names in the domain of the relative or literal meaning. These names are the vector of his compassion, grace, and the strength of the wishes he makes for the benefit of beings. In this way the recitation of his name transmits these qualities of his mind. Herein lies the explanation for the beneficial power of his mantra, which is also his name. As we assimilate ourselves to our own name and are at one with it, in the same way, on the relative level, the mantra is identical with the deity. They form a single reality. When one recites the mantra, one receives the grace of the deity; by visualizing the deity, one receives the same grace without any difference.
The mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG sometimes gives rise to fanciful or mysterious translations. As we have just said, however, this is simply one name of Chenrezig placed between two sacred and traditional syllables, OM and HUNG.
-OM represents the body of all Buddhas; it is also
the beginning of all mantras;
When we recite this mantra we are in fact continually repeating the name of Chenrezig. In itself this exercise may look strange. Let us suppose there is a person named Sonam Tsering and that we ceaselessly repeat his name in the manner of a mantra. Sonam Tsering, Sonam Tsering, Sonam Tsering, and so on. This will seem very odd and will certainly be useless. If, on the other hand, the recitation of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG has a meaning, it is because this mantra is invested by the grace and power of the mind of Chenrezig who himself gathers the grace and compassion of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In this view, the mantra is endowed with the capacity to purify our mind from the veils that obscure it. The mantra opens the mind to love and compassion and leads it toward awakening.
The deity and the mantra being one in essence means that one may recite the mantra without necessarily doing the visualization. The recitation still retains its effectiveness.
The authentic qualities of each of the six syllables of the mantra are explained through many correspondences.
First, let us consider that each syllable allows us
to close the door of painful rebirths in one of the six realms composing
Each syllable is then seen as having a genuine purifying
Each syllable is itself a prayer:
The six syllables correspond to the six paramitas,
the six transcendental perfections:
The six syllables are also related to the six Buddhas
reigning over the six Buddha families:
Lastly, one links them to the six wisdoms:
In Tibet, the mantra of Chenrezig was recited by everybody. Its popularity and simplicity, rather than lessening its greatness, conferred on it an even greater value. This was expressed in a humorous saying:
At the beginning, no suffering in not knowing it,
Ignorance of logic, medicine, astrology, and other sciences is painful because one must spend much energy and effort and accept much fatigue to learn them. A few seconds, however, are sufficient to learn Chenrezig's mantra. No suffering has to be faced in going from ignorance to knowledge of it. This is why, "At the beginning no sufferinig in not knowing it."
After one has spent many years aquiring a difficult science and has obtained fame or social position, one risks being self-satisfied and believing oneself superiour to others. The simplicity of Chenrezig's mantra puts this danger to rest. Thereore, "In the middle, no pride in knowing it."
Last, if we do not maintain it, the knowledge that we have accumulated in medicine, astrology, or other sciences may be lost little by little. It is impossible not to remember the six syllable mantra. OM MANI PADME HUNG. Therefore, "At the end, no fear of forgetting it."
Also, from my notes from "A Continuous Rain To Benefit Beings":
-OM is the colour WHITE ;
The Mantra can be summarized thus: "I beseech the embodiment of the five forms and the five transcending awarenesses, He who bears the gem and lotus for protection fro the sufferings of the beings of the six realms.
OM MANI PADME HUNG is the epitome of the collection
of the direct knowledge of all Buddhas. The instructions embodied in each
of the six syllables, which are the essence of the Masters of the Secrets
of the Five Families of Buddhas, are the source of all qualities and deeper
happiness, the root of all beneficial and happy accomplishments, and the
great path to higher existences and freedoms.
The benefits of reciting Compassion Buddha mantra are
infinite, like the limitless sky.
Even if one doesn't have much intellectual understanding
of Dharma, even if the only thing that you know is Om Mani Padme Hum,
still the happiest life is a life lived with an attitude free of the eight
worldly concerns. If one lives one's life with that pure attitude free
of attachment clinging to this life and then just spends one's life chanting
Om Mani Padme Hum - this six-syllable mantra that is the essence of all
Dharma - that's the purest Dharma.
Here I'm going to mention just the essence of the infinite
It is also said in the discourse called Exalted Eleven-Faced
It is also mentioned in the tantra that one achieves the four qualities of being born in the Amitabha Buddha pure land and other pure lands, at the time of death, one will see Buddha and lights happen in the sky (meaning white light or different colored clouds appear), the devas make offerings, and one never goes to the lower realms [the hell, hungry ghost and animals realms]. One will go to the pure land of Buddha or one will be reborn as a happy migrator being.
It is written in the tantra text Padma Chöpen
It is said that up to seven generations of that person's
descendents won't get reborn in the lower realms - hell, hungry ghost
and so forth. The reason for this is that due to the power of mantra,
the body is blessed by the person's reciting the mantra and visualizing
their body in form of the holy body of Chenrezig. Therefore, the body
becomes so powerful, so blessed that this affects the consciousness up
to seven generations and has the effect that if one dies with a non-virtuous
thought, one is not reborn in lower realm.
That person who does the meditation and recites the
mantra when they go into the water, even to swim or play in the water,
saves the animals in that water from the most unbelievable suffering of
the lower realms. If that person is walking in the road and the wind touches
that person's body and then goes on to touch insects, their negative karma
gets purified and it causes them to have a good rebirth.
Such a person becomes meaningful to behold; being seen
and touched by others all becomes a means to liberate other sentient beings.
If a person who did Nyung Ne well is on top of a mountain and down below
someone else sees that person, their negative karma gets purified.
A very high Amdo lama, Kungthang Jampelyang, said:
This is mentioned in a tantra text that this lama quotes.
Kungthang Jampelyang also said:
It is also written in the sutra called Samato go pe
"If it is said that there are such limitless skies of benefits from remembering the qualities of Arya Compassionate-Eyed One and remembering the kindness and blessings and even just reciting the holy name, then one must attempt to practice, making offerings and requests and so forth."
These comments come from a text by Geshe Jampa Chodrak
and I also say the same thing.
Therefore, there is nothing more foolish than not taking
advantage when one has this great opportunity. Normally, one gets distracted
continuously, and wastes one's own life. Not only that, but all the actions
done with ego and with the three poisonous minds [anger, attachment and
ignorance] create negative karma, the cause of suffering. Using this perfect
human body to create only suffering - nothing more foolish than this can
be found in existence. If you're feeling guilt in your life, through purification,
you overcome this.
The retreat is not just chanting mantras with sadhanas,
but also includes taking eight Mahayana precepts, if not every day, at
least frequently. That day, whatever merit you collect increases 100,000
times. This becomes such an easy way, a quick way, to purify, collect
extensive merit, achieve enlightenment and liberate sentient beings from
unimaginable sufferings and bring them to enlightenment quickly.
Therefore the recitation of this mantra is one way to actualize bodhicitta, to be able to transform the mind into bodhicitta, and to make your meditation on bodhicitta effective. Generally, according to my experience, in my home Solo-Khumbu in the Himalayas in Nepal, there are people who live their life chanting Om Mani Padme Hum and have no idea of the three principles of the path, not even the words. They can't read or even know the alphabet, but have great devotion to compassion and bodhicitta and live their lives reciting Om Mani Padme Hum. Such people are warm-hearted, very kind, very compassionate. This is a proof from my experience that it has effect of transforming the mind into a good heart and compassion.
Without bodhicitta, you cannot cause all the happiness for all sentient beings. You cannot do perfect work for all sentient beings. That cannot happen, and you cannot achieve the complete qualities of the realizations and cessation, even for yourself.
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