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.
Om Mani Padme Hum is the six-syllabled Sanskrit Mantra considered as the condensed form of all Buddhist teachings. Many people recite the mantra thousands of times in a day as part of their daily prayer practice. In English, this rhythmic chant translates to “Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus.”
"the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean 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". H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama.
To better understand the intention behind any mantra practice, we must know what the mantra means. In the Tibetan culture, to deeply know this mantra and to bring it into the very depths of someone’s being, is to attain enlightenment.
Let’s Break Down Om Mani Padme Hum
Below is the common understanding of the mantra, agreed upon by the majority of Buddhist practitioners:
OM, is not a word but an evocation of spiritual power and the presence of the absolute. Buddhists believe that the sound vibration of Om cleanses away pride. Om helps us dissolve our ego and cultivate kindness and generosity whenever we recite it. Its color is White. OM sets the intention for our practice.
Ma represents ethics and purifies jealousy. Reciting Ma can help loosen our jealous attachments while cultivating more ethical behavior. It is commonly represented in Green.
Ni is believed to dissolve our attachments to desire and passion while representing patience, with ourselves and others. It is commonly represented in Yellow.
The entire word, mani, means "jewel". Mani helps us get in the right heart space for the practice, in the same way OM guides us to the right headspace.
Pad purifies ignorance and judgment, while cultivating the quality of perseverance. Pad is typically associated with the color Blue.
Me helps dissolve our attachments to being possessive, while improving our concentration. It is commonly associated with the color Red.
Together, Padme means "lotus," and represents wisdom. Padme reminds us to not be attached to the every-day quarrels.
Hum represents the spirit of enlightenment, wisdom, and purifies hatred. Hum is associated with the color Black.
The Jewel is in the Lotus
Om Mani Padme Hum is a powerful mantra with a lot of meaning. It is often translated by “The jewel is in the lotus,” or “Praise to the jewel in the lotus.”. This is to say that within all of us, the lotus, is a jewel. It often is covered up and needs to be spruced up.
Reciting this mantra, with the right intention, is believed to heal and purify until we are as sparkling, pure, compassionate, and wise as the lotus flower itself.
According to a lecture given by the Dalai Lama, while it’s a good idea to recite this mantra, one must simultaneously meditate upon the meaning of each syllable. In other words, we have to practice with the appropriate intention and understanding of the mantra.
Remember, Intention is everything.