Mantras are short phrases, usually in the Sanskrit language, that are used by Buddhists, especially in the Tibetan Mahayana tradition, to focus the mind with spiritual meaning. The most well-known mantra is probably” Om Mani Padme Hum” (Sanskrit pronunciation) or “Om Mani Peme Hung” (Tibetan pronunciation). This mantra is associated with Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (called Chenrezig in Tibet) and means “Om, jewel in the lotus, hum.”
- The first syllable, OM, is not a word but an evocation of spiritual power and the presence of the absolute. It is known throughout Asia in several religions, especially Hinduism.
- The word Mani means “jewel” or “bead.”
- Padme is the lotus flower
- Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment
For Tibetan Buddhists, “jewel in the lotus” represents bodhicitta and the wish for liberation from the Six Realms. Each of the six syllables in the mantra is thought to be directed at liberation from a different samsaric realm of suffering.
The mantra is most often recited, but devotional practice may also involve reading the words, or writing them repeatedly.
According to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche:
“The mantra Om Mani Pädme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.
- O’Brien, Barbara. “Om Mani Padme Hum.” Learn Religions, Feb. 11, 2020, learnreligions.com/om-mani-padme-hum-449849.