THE MEANING OF OM MANI PADME HUM
H.H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast. The first, OM is composed of three letters, A, U, M. These symbolise the practitioners impure body, speech and mind; they also symbolise the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha.
Can impure body, speech and mind be transformed into pure body, speech and mind, or are they entirely separate? All Buddhas are cases of beings who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became enlightened; Buddhism does not asset that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults an 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 indicted by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolises the factors of method, the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion and love. Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty, or difficulties, of cyclic existence and of solitary peace. Similarly, just as a jewel fulfils the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfils the wishes of sentient beings.
The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolise wisdom. Just as a lotus grows from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so 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 realising impermanence, wisdom realising that persons are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that realises the emptiness of duality - that is to say, of difference of entity between subject and object - and wisdom that realises the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are many different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realising emptiness.
Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolised by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom. In the mantra, or vajrayana vehicle, it refers to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one undifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllable of Akshobhya - the immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.
Thus the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUM, mean
that in dependence on the practice of a path that 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 the Great Vehicle (Uttaratantra),
all beings naturally have the Buddha nature in their own continuum.
We have within us the seed of purity, the essence of a One Gone thus
(Tathagatabarbha) that is to be transformed and fully developed into
BENEFITS OF RECITING OM MANI
The benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM are like the infinite sky. Depending on how perfectly qualified ones mind is and on ones motivation, even reciting OM MANI PADME HUM one time can purify negative karma. For example, a fully ordained monk who has received all four defeats can completely purify that very heavy negative karma by reciting OM MANI PADME HUM one time. So it is very powerful.
Reciting One Thousand Mantras Each Day
In the teachings it is said the benefits of reciting OM MANI PADME HUM are so many that the explanation will never finish. It is explained that if one recites OM MANI PADME HUM one thousand times every day, then ones children up to seven generations will not be reborn in the lower realms. So if, for example, parents recite one thousand mantras every day then their children, their childrens children and so forth up to seven generations will never be reborn in the lower realms. So parents have quite a responsibility! This is one way that parents can benefit their children and grandchildren.
If one recites the OM MANI PADME HUM mantra one thousand times every day, then ones body becomes blessed. So when a person who recites one thousand OM MANI PADME HUM every day goes into water, into a river or ocean for example, that water becomes blessed. Whoever that water touches fish, tiny or big animals, or tiny insects, the negative karma of all those sentient beings is purified and they do not get reborn in the lower realms.
If one recites one thousand OM MANI PADME HUM every day, then at the time of death, when the body is burnt, even the smoke that comes from it purifies the negative karma of whoever it touches or whoever smells it. The negative karma of those sentient beings to be reborn in the lower realms is purified.
Fifteen Major Benefits
There are fifteen major benefits, which are the same for both the long and the short mantra. Actually, there are so many benefits but if one can remember these fifteen, these are the most important, the integrated outlines.
In all lifetimes, one will meet with virtuous kings - religious
kings like His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other virtuous leaders
- and by being in such a place where there is a virtuous king one
will have much opportunity to practise Dharma.
The Compassionate Buddha manifesting
in the form of the mantra leads us to enlightenment. In relation
to the Holy
Body of the Compassionate Buddha we make offerings, accumulate merit,
purify and meditate. Then the Compassionate Buddha manifests in the
form of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM. Reciting this mantra unifies
our negative karma and causes us to actualise the whole path from
guru devotion through renunciation, bodhicitta, and emptiness up
to the two stages of tantra. Then we are able to bring all sentient
beings to enlightenment. That is how the mantra benefits us. It is
the Compassionate Buddhas holy speech manifesting in an external
way in order to benefit us.
GAYATRI MANTRA -ITS MEANING