Remember: Om Mani Padme Hum is a well-known Buddhist mantra, which is generally translated as “The jewel is in the lotus”.
It is not for nothing that the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is at the heart of many Buddhist traditions.
This is because all of the Buddha’s teachings are believed to reside in this powerful mantra. It is repeated again and again to invoke the qualities of love and unconditional compassion.
Whether spoken aloud or silently to oneself, this mantra is one you will want to practice to connect with your innate loving and compassionate nature.
Using a mani with the mantra
In northern India, Nepal and Tibet, you will often see this beloved mantra carved in stone.
People like to buy rings with the mantra engraved on them, as it is said that simply looking at the mantra will produce the same benevolent effects. Prayer wheels of different sizes, also called mani, are also used for Om Mani Padme Hum meditation.
Buddhist practitioners spin these large prayer wheels or small hand wheels while meditating or chanting the mantra, simultaneously receiving its many blessings.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that every time a prayer wheel completes a full rotation, it is equivalent to the merit gained during a year’s retreat.
Understanding its meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum
To truly know our intentions and motivations behind any mantra practice, we need to know exactly what the mantra means.
This gives more meaning to our practice and makes it more personal.
Many people call this mantra simply the Mani mantra, as it is the most beloved and widely used among the Buddha’s disciples. (To learn more, see 5 Powerful Mantras and Their Sacred Meanings).
According to the Dalai Lama, Om Mani Padme Hum has the power to:
“transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.”
Tibetan culture tells us that to know this phrase deeply – to bring it to the depths of one’s being – is to achieve enlightenment.
That’s saying a lot! If so, we will all want to practice this mantra with great discipline and devotion.
Deciphering the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum
Translating Sanskrit into English is challenging because the language has many layers of meaning. Below is a basic understanding of the mantra, accepted by the majority of Buddhist practitioners.
Om (or Aum)
The sound Om is considered the primordial sound of all creation.
The universe was created with Om and contains everything that is, has been and will be.
Buddhists believe that the sound vibration of Om purifies pride. They also believe that the syllable of Om lives in the samsaric realm of the gods.
Om helps us dissolve our ego and cultivate kindness and generosity every time we recite it. (To learn more, see the 5 benefits of reciting OM.)
Want to know more about the Aum symbol? Read more :
The syllable ma of mani is associated with the dissolution of jealousy and attachment to fleeting pleasures.
He lives in the samsaric realm of the jealous gods and reciting ma over and over helps us release our jealous attachments while cultivating ethical behavior. (To learn more, see Freedom in Letting Go).
The syllable ni in particular is believed to dissolve our attachments to desire and passion while cultivating our ability to be patient with ourselves and others. It resides in the samsaric realm of the human being. The whole word, mani, means “jewel.”
Pad is a syllable that dissolves our attachment to the many prejudices and judgments we have, while cultivating the quality of perseverance.
She lives in the samsaric animal kingdom.
This syllable helps dissolve our attachment to possessiveness while cultivating our power of concentration. (To learn more, see Practicing Aparigraha (non-attachment).
He resides in the samsaric realm of the hungry ghost.
Together, padme means “lotus” and represents wisdom.
With the syllable hum, we strive to dissolve our attachments to aggression and hatred.
Instead, we cultivate our own innate wisdom.
Hum is said to be found in the samsaric realm of hell. Hum also indicates that which cannot be disturbed by anything.
He is unshakable and immutable.
The jewel is in the lotus
As you can see, this is a powerful and meaningful mantra. The phrase that sums it all up is: “The jewel is in the lotus”: “The jewel is in the lotus” or “Praise to the jewel in the lotus”.
This means that the lotus flower is in each of us, but it is covered with a lot of mud and filth.
Reciting this mantra over and over again, with the right intention, is meant to rid us of mud and dirt 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 is good to recite this mantra over and over again, one must at the same time meditate on the meaning of each syllable.
In other words, we must practice with the proper intention and understanding of the mantra. (For more, see Svadhyaya: Spend a Lifetime Knowing Yourself and Deepening Your Yoga Practice).
Intention is everything.