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Om Ma Ni Pe Me Hung
Six Syllable Mantra
Buddha of Compassion
May All Beings Benefit!
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'On Compassion' by The Dalai Lama, from his book Stages of Meditation
What do we mean when we speak of a truly compassionate kindness? Compassion is essentially concern for
others' welfare -- their happiness and their suffering. Others wish to avoid misery as much as we do.
So a compassionate person feels concerned when others are miserable and develops a positive intention to free
them from it. As ordinary beings, our feeling of closeness to our friends and relatives is little more than
an _expression of clinging desire. It needs to be tempered, not enhanced. It is important not to confuse
attachment and compassion.... A compassionate thought is motivated by a wish to help release beings
from their misery.
Buddha of Great Compassion
Mantra: Om Ma Ni Pe Me Hung (Om Mani Peme Hung)
"There is not a single aspect of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha's teachings which is not contained
in Avalokiteshvara's six syllable mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum", and as such the qualities of the "mani" are
praised again and again in the Sutras and Tantras.... Whether happy or sad, if we take the "mani" as our refuge,
Chenrezig [Avalokiteshvara] will never forsake us, spontaneous devotion will arise in our minds and the
Great Vehicle will effortlessly be realized."
Training in compassion has the capacity to be both profound and vast -- both absolute and relative.
Compassion has the quality of being approachable and at the same time ungraspable. It manifests both the quality
of shunyata, emptiness, or egolessness, as well as the qualities of kindness and joyfulness. Therefore,
from the Mahayana point of view, compassion is the most important practice we could ever engage in.
It can lead us to the full realization of enlightenment without any need for other practices.
-- from Trainings in Compassion: Manuals on the Meditation of Avalokiteshvara
translated by Tyler Dewar under the guidance of The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Avalokitesvara Buddha (also known as Kwan Yin in Asia)
Praise To Kuan Yin
Kuan Yin's compassion for all beings is so vast and inconceivable, our gratitude cannot comprehend
nor fully express the magnitude of her blessings. Her body and garments of brilliant, translucent White Light.
Her adornments, a white vase of Compassionate Water in her left hand, The Sacred Willow Branch in her right hand.
Enlightened through infinite acts of compassion countless lifetimes ago.
Her feet rest upon a fragrant red lotus flower above a vast ocean. Her brows curved and radiant like the crescent
of an autumn moon. With the sweet dew drops she sprinkles from her vase, She relieves the suffering of beings
everywhere and always, for countless autumns.
Prayers for help arise from thousands of hearts, and thousands of prayers are answered by her vow
of eternal compassion: Beings in Samsara, who sail the ocean of suffering,
She will guide and deliver safely to the ultimate shore of enlightenment.
Buddha Avalokitesvara, known as Kuan (Guan) Yin to the Chinese, Chenrezig to the Tibetans,
and Kannon to the Japanese, is the buddha who embodies compassion.
The name Avalokitesvara has its root meaning as "he who observes the sounds of the world". The great
vow of Avalokitesvara is to listen to the supplications, and cries for help from those in difficulty in the world
and to provide them with aid. He takes many different forms....male, female, four-armed, thousand-armed,
human, non-human, teacher, student...whatever expedient means are needed to help people most effectively.
The popularity of Avalokitesvara is due to the personification of karuna (compassion) and prajna (wisdom).
While wisdom makes the Buddha close to the human minds, compassion makes him/her close
to the human hearts.
Buddha Avalokitesvara/Guanyin (Kwan Yin) occupies a unique place in the Mahayana Buddhist practice.
Buddhist sutras speak of several bodhisattvas but it is Avalokitesvara/Guanyin who is revered and adored
by followers of both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Despite three major setbacks suffered by
Buddhism in Chinese history, the symbol of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy however had continued
to prosper and flourish.
Avalokitesvara Six Syllable Mantra of Compassion
Om Ma Ni Pe Me Hung
Dalai Lama: Meaning of the Six Syllable Mantra
The Meaning of the Mantra
People who learn about the mantra naturally want to know what it means, and often ask for a translation
into English or some other Western language. However, Om Mani Padme Hum can not really be translated
into a simple phrase or even a few sentences.
really face the fact that suffering exists, we can look more deeply and discover its cause; and when we
discover that the cause is dependent on certain conditions, we can explore the possibility of removing
very different types and conditions and aptitudes of suffering beings. For those who had the capacity to
understand it, he taught the most powerful method of all, a method based on the practice of compassion.
It is known as the Mahayana, or Great Vehicle, because practicing it benefits all beings, without partiality.
It is likened to a vast boat that carries all the beings in the universe across the sea of suffering.
by entering directly into the awakened state of mind, or Buddhahood, without delay. Again, there are different
ways of accomplishing this, but the most powerful, and at the same time the most accessible, is to link one's
own mind with the mind of a Buddha.
The most direct method of linking one's mind with the mind of Avalokitesvara is through empowerment (wang)
from an authentic and qualified teacher ; and through one's own efforts in sincerely practicing
the meditation and mantra of Avalokitesvara.
Avalokitesvara Perceived That All Skandas Are Empty
Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom,
saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty, and so released himself from suffering.
His enlightenment is summarized in the Heart of the Prajna-Paramita Sutra, also called Heart Sutra;
which is the shortest and the most popular sutra in Buddhism.
During his practice of contemplation and illumination the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara attained Truth.
By means of his minutely subtle Dharma practice he penetrated the five skandhas, perceiving them as empty.
The five skandhas, namely form, feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness continually provide
five occasions for craving and clinging. Two types of craving and clinging characterize the human mind:
1) Craving and clinging to form and
2) Craving and clinging to mind.
Clinging to form is the domain of the form skandha; the remaining four skandhas constitute the domain
of the mind and the clinging to mind is generated in those four realms.
All our grasping, manifested in our attachments and aversions, is generated and developed due to the activity of these four skandhas. Craving and clinging emerge at birth, and the Buddhadharma aims to sever them.
The initial clinging is ego bound. Ego is the anchor of our volition to grasp and to possess, the root of our
attachments and aversions, and via these, the root of our suffering. Clinging to the body as the true self begins
to manifest in the early childhood: Normally, the six organs produce six types of data, six kinds of consciousness
and the four skandhas along with them; jointly these constitute the delusory ego. Craving and clinging is
spontaneous at birth; at that time, ego is formulated simultaneously with the form skandha. The rest of our
existence is built up by our countless ego-affirming acts involving all the skandhas, but most prominently
the skandha of feeling; its domain contains pleasant, unpleasant and neutral or indifferent types of feelings.
The body depends on the mind to be provided with pleasant occasions and protected from discomfort.
There must be thinking, i.e., perceptions, followed by action, and action means volition. They, in turn,
require established bases of knowledge, and that is the role of the consciousness skandha. Children are sent
to school to learn, to acquire knowledge that prepares them for the future. When there is sufficient knowledge,
there is action, invariably preceded by thinking as planning, imagining, remembering and so on. The body
then receives the support it needs. There is ego--grasping, and confusion is generated by the five skandhas as
the ego-notion imposes itself on the process of experience.
Once it has become clear beyond any doubt that this present body is not the self, that one can only say "mine",
or "my body", all delusion regarding the five skandhas is broken off, and ignorance along with it. What a pity
that worldlings get so deeply confused and completely fail to understand this brilliant doctrine; grasping
the skandhas and the ego-notion, they twist the data to fit their own picture as to how reality should be. Actually,
the body is not the self; it is like a house that I might call mine all right, but to consider it to be myself would be
a ridiculous error. In the same way, I can't say "this body is myself' but I can say "this body is mine."
What is the real self? Our Original Nature is our real self. It depends on the body temporarily; the body is not
different from a house. A house is completed and then gradually deteriorates; similarly, the body has birth and
death and the part in between. Our True Nature (real self), on the other hand, has neither birth nor death.
It is enduring and unchanging. The teaching of Real Self and of illusory ego is basic to all Buddhadharma.
When it is understood, clinging is easily broken off.
Thus did I hear. At one time the Buddha was abiding at Vulture Peak in Rajgrha with a great assembly of monks
and a great assembly of bodhisattvas. At that time, the Buddha entered into a samadhi on the categories
of phenomena called “perception of the profound.” Also at that time, the bodhisattva, the mahasattva,
the noble Avalokiteśvara beheld the practice of the profound perfection of wisdom and saw
that those five aggregates also are empty of intrinsic existence. Then, by the power of the Buddha,
the venerable Śariputra said this to the bodhisattva, the mahasattva, the noble Avalokiteśvara,
“How should a son of a good lineage who wishes to practice the profound perfection of wisdom train?”
He said that and the bodhisattva, the mahasattva, the noble Avalokiteśvara said this to the venerable Śariputra,
“Śariputra, a son or a daughter of good lineage who wishes to practice the profound perfection of wisdom
should perceive things in this way: form is empty; emptiness is form.
Emptiness is not other than form; form is not other than emptiness.
In the same way, feeling, discrimination, conditioning factors, and consciousness are empty.
Therefore, Śariputra, all phenomena are empty, without characteristic, unproduced, unceased, stainless,
not stainless, undiminished, unfilled. Therefore, Śariputra, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling,
no discrimination, no conditioning factors, no consciousness, no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue, no body,
no mind, no form, no sound, no odor, no taste, no object of touch, no phenomenon,
no eye constituent up to and including no mental consciousness constituent, no ignorance,
no extinction of ignorance, no aging and death up to and including no extinction of aging and death.
In the same way, no suffering, origin, cessation, path, no wisdom, no attainment, no nonattainment.
Therefore, Śariputra, because bodhisattvas have no attainment, they rely on and abide in the perfection of wisdom;
because their minds are without obstruction, they have no fear. They pass completely beyond error and go
to the fulfillment of nirvana. All the buddhas who abide in the three times have fully awakened into unsurpassed,
complete, perfect enlightenment in dependence on the perfection of wisdom. Therefore, the mantra of the
perfection of wisdom is the mantra of great knowledge, the unsurpassed mantra, the mantra equal to the unequaled,
the mantra that completely pacifies all suffering. Because it is not false, is should be known to be true.
The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is stated thus: [om] gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.
Instructions for Spiritual Practice by Shakyamuni Buddha
from the Kalama Sutta (Anguttara Nikaya Vol. 1, 188-193 P.T.S. Ed.)
Do not believe in anything (simply) because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything (simply) because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis when you find that anything agrees with reason
and it is conductive to the good and benefit of one and all –
then accept it and live up to it.
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