Meditation Blog: Om Mani Padme Hum

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At tonight’s meditation group, I introduced the class to the famous mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum.’ This is the heart mantra associated with the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, known in China as the goddess Guan Yin, and in Japan as Kannon. S/he is a representation of the purest emanation of universal compassion. Chanting his mantra directly activates that source of infinite compassion within us, and is a great way of opening our hearts and minds. Whatever hardness, cruelty, or rigidity there is within us can be softened and dissolved through using this mantra.

Avalokitesvara’s name is often translated as ‘Regarder of the Cries of the World’ or ‘The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion’). Omnipresent and omniscient, he is aware of all the suffering in the world, and has vowed not to enter nirvana until he has attained liberation for all beings.

Tibetans have a special relationship with Avalokitesvara, whom they call Chenrezig. Every Dalai Lama is believed to be an incarnation of Chenrezig, including the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Let’s take the mantra apart for a moment, and examine its inner meaning:

Om is one of the most ancient sacred syllables of the Sanskrit language. Expressing the inexpressible profundity of the source, it is believed to the background tone of the universe. Sages have often reported hearing it in deep trance, and the same has been acknowledged by DMT experimenters.

Mani means ‘jewel’ and ‘padme’ means lotus, and so is often translated as the ‘jewel is in the lotus.’ But, given the spiritual depth of these words, it is better to conceive of them as sonic symbols, as opposed to the playthings of grammar.

The jewel is symbolic of the jewel of Buddhahood that resides within us, often without us being aware of it. The lotus symbolizes our physical being which, though planted in the mud of the world, is still capable of blooming to a state of glorious infinite awareness. So, the infinite is within the temporal – the Buddha is within the muck – that is the central message encoded in this teaching.

Hum is another sacred syllable included at the end of many mantras. If Om represents the primordial energy of the universe, then Hum is the portion of that energy we are able to channel through ourselves, and consciously or unconsciously use to contribute to creation. John Blosfeld associates it with the concept of Te or Tao in Action in Taoism.

Make this mantra this single-point of your attention, and it will bring you inexhaustible happiness.

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2 thoughts on “Meditation Blog: Om Mani Padme Hum

  1. Yes, these are fine verses of a fine tradition. So many illustrations taken straight from life, the secret life, the inner life, the sacred life, and a mythology which if not reliant on realized or actual incarnations, are still the raw materials from which to explore human experiences. I am of the Christian tradition, though I believe Buddhists attain their own bliss, but would soften the strictures of your discipline and belief to encourage the notion that once we are deceased we are ever at rest in an ego body that does not recycle. I see no problem with God, or Gods being carnate at certain times. There is Christ’s resurrection. There may be some gnostics who come back to serve the world from the end, the eschatons who have witnessed the end, selfless beings such as Guan Yin, but personally I evoke and envisage a paradise wherein God resides and all that is good or desirable is made manifest, Nirvana, the Buddha field. The symbols of Christianity are well know. I feel admiration for Buddhists, it is a far more exacting religion than Christ. Our holy spirit flows, but on a personal basis I feel I have benefited from the acquaintance with other faiths. Our faith in Christ, in our scripture pin everything in imparting belief, and attached values, In Buddhism you have more of a plan, a philosophy a mystical tradition of which I suspect the majority of Christians do not suspect. There are gifts of the spirit, as encouragement, but your lessons have stood the test of time. Om Mani Padme Hum. Julian.

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  2. Thank you for your response, Julian. An egoless, bodiless state is ultimately what we all hope to return to, but, wanting to help those who are easily misled, or not so far advanced, we choose to continue incarnating to point the direction to others. Reincarnation is not some I believe out of a doctrine, but something which I am aware of through my consciousness of having lived before, and living many lives right now. Many early Christians believed in reincarnation, and I imagine many still do. But, whether recycled, or at rest, there is no real division, for it all stems from the same source. And, while yes, Buddhism is very demanding and exacting, there are many great Christians who have been no less. If you place the lives of all the great mystics side by side, it’s almost impossible to find any differences between them, besides cultural coloration. Many Buddha Paradises and Heavens are also spoken of. Once again, I say from my own experiences that there are limitless numbers of supernal realms, heavens, paradises, etc., – truly impossible to categorize, but all ultimately indivisible – it’s just our human ratoicination that tries to catalogue and tabulate them! Thank you for reading, my friend. I hope you carry on learning from me, as I in turn learn from you.

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