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Om Ma Ni Pe Me Hung
Six Syllable Mantra
Buddha of Compassion
May All Beings Benefit!
Palyul Changchub Dargyeling Dallas
Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and Study in the Nyingma Tradition
Summer Retreats at Palyul Ling Upstate NY Retreat Center
On the Meaning of OM MANI PEME HUNG
(The Six Syllable Mantra)
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the14th Dalai Lama
It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME (pronounced ‘peme’) HUNG, 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 pure letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner's impure body,
speech, and mind; they also symbolize 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 being who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became
enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults and
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 indicated by the next four syllables. MA NI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factor
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 fulfills the wishes of sentient beings,
so the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.
The two syllables, PAD ME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom.
Just as a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of
putting you in a situation of non- contradiction where as there would be contradiction if you did not have
wisdom. There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing that persons are empty of self-sufficient
or substantial existence, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality (that is to say, of difference of entity
between subject and object), and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence.
Though there are may different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realizing emptiness.
Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable,
HUNG, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom
refers to one consciousness in which there is a full form of both wisdom affected by method and method affected
by wisdom. In the mantra, or tantra vehicle, it refers to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both
wisdom and method as one indifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the five conqueror Buddhas,
HUNG is the seed syllable of Akshobhya Buddha - the immovable, the unfluctuating;
that which cannot be disturbed by anything.
Thus the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUNG, mean that in dependence on the practice -
which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind
into the pure 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 GREAT VEHICLE (UTTARA TANTRA) -
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 (TATHAGATAGARBHA),
that is to be transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood.
New Jersey.) Transcribed by Ngawang Tashi (Tsawa), Drepung Loseling, MUNGOD, INDIA
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