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Avalokitesvara mantra

Oṁ Mani Padme Hūṁ / Om Mani Padme Hum

Mani stone, carved with Om Mani Padme Hum. Click here for more details.
Avalokiteshvara (or Avalokitesvara) is a Bodhisattva who represents compassion, and his mantra also symbolizes that quality. Avalokiteshvara means "The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion)".

There are various forms of Avalokitesvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan). The four-armed form is shown here. There is also a 1000-armed form — the many arms symbolizing compassion in action. And in the far east, Avalokiteshvara turned into the female Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin.

Om, as I’ve explained before, has only a mystical meaning — suggesting primordial reality. Mani means jewel, while Padme means lotus. Hum, like Om, has no conceptual meaning. Overall, the mantra is suggestive of the bringing together of the qualities of wisdom (the lotus) and compassion (the jewel).

Just as the lotus can exist in muddy water without being soiled, so wisdom can exist in an impure world without becoming contaminated.

The mantra is often “translated” as “Hail to the jewel in the lotus” but the Sanskrit simply can’t mean that. The central element, manipadme, seems properly to be a name, Manipadma (“The Jewel Lotus One”) with the -e ending signifying the vocative case, meaning that Manipadma — is being invoked (“O Jewel Lotus One”). If this is the case, assuming that the mantra is in classical Sanskrit, then Manipadma would have to be a feminine figure, but it’s unknown which figure that would be! Some have suggested that it might be an invisible consort of Avalokiteshvara. If the mantra was originally in a non-Sanskrit language with different grammatical rules, however, and the vocative -e ending was applicable in that language to a masculine figure, then Manipadma could be Avalokiteshvara himself. The mantra would them mean “Om, O Jewel Lotus One, Hum” — the “Jewel Lotus One” being Avalokiteshvara.

om mani padme hum bracelet
Om Mani Padme Hum bracelet

And the Dalai Lama points out that just as a jewel can relieve poverty, so the compassionate mind takes away the poverty of unhappiness that exists in the world and replaces it with the wealth of wellbeing.

This is probably the best known Buddhist mantra. I swear I remember hearing it chanted on an episode of the BBC Sci-fi series, Dr Who, when I was a young kid back in the 1960s, and even before that, in the 1940’s it featured on an American radio show called the Green Lama.

This mantra is very widely chanted in Tibet, and not only chanted but carved onto stones, printed onto flags, and embossed onto prayer wheels. The illustration above shows the mantra’s six syllables, which from left to right are: Om Ma Ni Pa Dme Hum.

Tibetans find Sanskrit hard to pronounce (so do westerners, actually, but in different ways) and so Tibetans pronounce "Padme" as "peh-may".

We’ve created a YouTube video of images of Avalokitesvara, accompanied by the mantra:

Click below to listen to an MP3 version:

Pronunciation notes:

o is pronounced like o in ore
a is pronounced as u in cut
e is pronounced as a in made
ū is like oo in cool
m in hum is pronounced ng

The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Avalokiteshvara)

Avalokiteshvara’s name means "The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion)."

Avalokiteshvara forms a protective trinity along with Manjushri and Vajrapani. He is the protector of the Lotus family of deities, which also includes Amitabha and Tara.

In Tibet, Avalokitesvara is known as Chenrezig, and the Dalai Lama is said to be an emanation of this Bodhisattva. In the far east, Avalokiteshvara turned into the female Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin (Chinese) or Kannon (Japanese).

Avalokitesvara is also popularly known as Padmapani, or "Holder of the Lotus."

Avalokiteshvara

To western eyes, the depiction of Avalokiteshvara as having four arms can seem bizarre or alien. The first time that I saw a picture of this Bodhisattva I was mildly repelled, and couldn’t help wondering about how all those arms joined to the body!

Later I came to realize that this is simply an iconographic convention, and one that we also have in an important Western art form, the comic strip. How does a comic strip artist show that a character is running? Often this is done by having motion lines behind a figure to show movement, or by showing multiple versions of the same image, like a stroboscopic photograph.

Similarly, Eastern artists, trying to depict the multifarious compassionate activities of Avalokiteshvara, chose to depict him as having four arms. Avalokiteshvara’s compassion and wisdom have too many dimensions to be represented by a conventional human figure, and so each arm represents a different aspect of his compassionate nature.

The central pair of hands clasps the mani, or jewel, to Avalokiteshvara’s heart in a prayer-like attitude. The jewel represents compassion, which is his principle attribute. The jewel is held to his heart because compassion is central to Avalokiteshvara’s being. Compassion is Avalokiteshvara’s essence.

Om mani padme hum protection pendant.

The outer arms hold a mala (rosary) and a lotus flower, as if as gifts. These are Avalokiteshvara’s offerings to the world — his compassionate activity extending into the world. The lotus symbolizes wisdom, while the mala represents the gift of meditation, and also comments on the necessity for the constant repetition of skillful activities in order to attain enlightenment.

This multi-limbed approach was taken to another level in the thousand-armed and eleven-headed form of Avalokiteshvara. According to legend, Avalokiteshvara made a vow, in the presence of the Buddha Amitabha, to manifest in all the realms of existence in order to save all sentient beings. He also vowed that if he were to lose his compassion for even a moment, that he would shatter into a thousand pieces.

At one time, having worked tirelessly for the welfare of beings, Avalokiteshvara, at Amitabha’s prompting, looked back and saw that there were still uncountable beings suffering in samsara. At that point he became discourage, fainted, and shattered into a thousand pieces. Amitabha gathered up the pieces and reassembled them into a form with thousand arms and eleven heads.

The eleven heads symbolize the eleven directions of space, suggesting that Avalokiteshvara’s compassionate gaze is infinite in scope. Each of the thousand hands, which are arrayed like an aura around the standing figure of Avalokiteshvara, has an eye in the center of the palm, suggesting that his beneficial activities are informed by transcendental wisdom. Many of the hands bear implements, suggesting the skilful means that Avalokiteshvara employs in saving sentient beings from the sufferings of samsara.

Although he is associated with compassion, Avalokiteshvara is, like all Bodhisattvas, symbolic of wisdom as well. He is connected with the Heart Sutra in particular, and that text is in fact a teaching he gave on the topic of emptiness (shunyata) to Shariputra. He is also associated with the Lotus Sutra.

Avalokiteshvara is the spiritual father of Tara, who is said to have been born from a lotus that grew in a lake formed by the tears he shed as he gazed in compassion at the infinite sufferings of the world.

Comments

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Comment from chris
Time: June 24, 2007, 10:12 pm

Thank you very much for the useful information. I have been making prayer flags for the meditation area in my yard, and this information has been inspiring. May you reach enlightenment quickly.

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Comment from Mbeleck Mandenge
Time: July 12, 2007, 11:16 am

O.K.
Thank you very much.
Can I ask a broader question?
In my life I have never been in contact with confessional Buddhism excepting the Sokka Gakkai variety. By temperament I am not inclined to this variety. All the other varieties as I have some acquaintance in literature it seems to me please my heart. Does it make sense for me to identify myself with Buddhists when I have never been in the company of anyone especially of any initiate from whom I can actually see the practice? And to what extent would the chanting of a mantra in my manner suffice for my yearning to feel the identity of a Buddhist?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 12, 2007, 1:13 pm

That’s a good question, Mbeleck. Many people when they encounter Buddhist teachings find that they have a heart response of feeling that they’ve come home. There’s a sense of the inherent and natural truth of Buddhist teaching. So in the West especially there’s a tendency for people to discover — in isolation — that they have an affinity with Buddhist practice. And I believe that to be an entirely appropriate response.

Traditionally, one is a Buddhist when one has “Gone for Refuge” to the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the spiritual community). This means in essence that one has decided that Enlightenment (the open-ended development of awareness and compassion) is one’s goal in life, that the Dharma is the best way to attain that goal, and that one aspires to attain that goal in the company of others.

Not all these Refuges come into focus in our lives at the same time. It sounds like the first two have for you, and that your task is now to find an appropriate context in which to practice. Exactly which spiritual community one joins is often a matter both of personal preference and of geography!

I wish you good fortune in finding an appropriate sangha for your needs.

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Comment from Mbeleck Mandenge
Time: July 23, 2007, 9:04 am

Thank you for the considered response I get to my queries:perhaps in you, for the time I have found a teacher. Would you suggest a Buddha image [or a bodhisattva image] I can post on the wall of my room, and some Buddhist text which may be practical accompaniment?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 24, 2007, 8:07 am

Hello again, Mbeleck.

The choice of a Buddha image is really a very personal thing, and I’d suggest that you find an image that you’re simply attracted to.

My first Buddha image was a Nepalese woodcut of Akshobhya. I just found that I liked the image when I saw it in a local shop, and I’d no idea who Akshobhya was (or even that the figure was Akshobhya) but when later I did some investigation I discovered that he was associated with qualities that particularly fascinated me (for example the element Water and the Mirror-Like Wisdom).

So I’d suggest that you follow your heart (or your eye) on this matter and find what interests you — then explore the iconography and mythology of that figure to deepen your sense of fascination. Vessantara’s book, “Meeting the Buddhas” is an excellent resource for getting background information, by the way.

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Comment from Mbeleck Mandenge
Time: July 27, 2007, 11:57 am

I will be delighed to be specifically instructed on how to practice the chanting of the Avalokitesvara mantra and be hinted on events in my mental and spiritial life I would be watchful for which would nean progress of some sort. I do not know whether this request of mine is a sensible one. I earnestly would engage on the life of discipline as The Buddha would prescribe and I wish there anyone I would go for inspiration in a practical way. Can you give me this?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 10, 2007, 3:04 pm

Hello Mbeleck,

It’s always worth asking! Unfortunately because of lack and time and resources we’re not really able to take on the role of being your spiritual teacher. I’d encourage you to look for a local Buddhist group, if that’s at all possible. Unfortunately I don’t know where you live or whether there are such groups in your locality. If you write to us through our contact form we might be able to make some recommendations. But I wish you well with your practice.

With best wishes,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Wahab Abayomi Omiwole
Time: January 7, 2008, 11:42 am

I have listened to the audio of chant “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Could you, please, teach me how to chant and how many times per day, etc

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 7, 2008, 10:42 pm

Hi Wahab,

I’d hope there’s enough guidance here for you to learn to chant the mantra. There’s no set number of times that a mantra should be chanted per day. You can simply call the mantra to mind as often as possible — for example when waiting in a queue, or when walking, or when waking up or going to sleep.

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Comment from PRASAD B
Time: April 19, 2008, 4:29 am

In 1996 when i was seriously ill doctors diagnoised it as thrombosis and heart is damaged. They suggested some medicines and called for a review after on month. Within this one month duration i used to go for net browsing and suddenly like a boon i got this “mani” mantra. Daily i used to spend 7 hours in net surfing and studied in detail about this mantra. The benefits are numerous but as far as i am concerned my health is rapidly improved. Now this mantra is always in my breath viz., in every inhale and exhale. Particularly when going for a long walk in the early hours it will really show its benefits. Now i am a regular practitioner of this mantra and gaining all merits. When i am asleep this chanting is always there in my mind i used to see glittering stars, a blue coloued light in the sky and sometimes feel sitting with famous buddhist monks who were chanting this mantra rythemic.

When the review meet with my doctors they got wondered and could not trace out any heart trouble symptoms.

So it is my appeal to every one who see this reponse in site to practise this mantra and reap the benefits.

I trusted this mantra
Practised it vigorously and benefitted out of it………

Buddham saranam gachhami
Sangham saranam gachhami
Dharmam saranam gachhami

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Comment from doubtful
Time: May 7, 2008, 4:04 am

may i ask what is the correct pronunciation of this mantra?is it om mani pa mi hung or om mani pe me hum?which pronunciation is correct or both are correct?between what do we have to do after chanting the mantra?thanks

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 7, 2008, 1:08 pm

Hi Doubtful,

There’s a pronunciation guide above :)

It’s Hung and not hum.

I’m not sure what you meant by your last question, I’m afraid. Can you rephrase that?

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Comment from Pradeep
Time: June 6, 2008, 8:27 am

Is it helpfull if we keep a photo of lotus & jewel while chanting om mane padme hum.
will it help to concentrate better.
please tell me what should i keep in mind while chanting a mantra

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 6, 2008, 8:51 am

Hi Pradeep,

This is the kind of thing you might want to experiment with, although in my experience it’s enough simply to pay attention to the sound of the mantra and so see what, if any mental images come to mind.

Although a familiarity with what jewels and lotuses look like can certainly help prime the mind for this kind of spontaneous visualization, it might be best to look at these kinds of photographs outside of meditation. And I wouldn’t suggest that in your meditation you try to reproduce in your mind the images you’ve seen on a photo, but instead (as I suggested above) allow any images to emerge naturally.

In mantra practice the object of our meditation is paying attention to the sound of the mantra, and perhaps also to a mental or physical image of the Buddha or bodhisattva.

I hope this helps.

With metta,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Earthshine
Time: June 28, 2008, 4:54 pm

Namaste
Radiant beings of Buddha-nature.

As an invocation of Avalokitesvara, the general pronunciation of the mantra is: Om Mani Padme Hum.

As an invocation of Cherenzig, the Tibetan pronunciation of the mantra is: Om Mani Peme Hung.

May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness.
May they abide in equanimity, free from attachment or aversion.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 28, 2008, 8:05 pm

Hi Earthshine,

Chenrezig is just the Tibetan name for Avalokiteshvara (it’s a rough translation) and so the two are the same figure. The Tibetan form of the mantra is just a Tibetan (mis)pronunciation, so they’re not two different mantras for different figures.

I hope that’s helpful.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Earthshine
Time: June 28, 2008, 10:34 pm

Hello Bodhipaksa,

I concur. They are only avatars, manifestations or embodiments of the same essential nature of love and compassion. Kind of like you and I. My previous comment was in response to doubtful’s inquiry, to which you had pretty much already elucidated. It would be most enjoyable to converse further about Vajrasattva, Zen koans, Kundalini or anything else present in the collective unconcious. Bodhi means “enlightened, luminous”; what does paksa mean?

It is always helpful.

Peace,
Earthshine

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 29, 2008, 12:11 pm

Paksha means “wings” — so my name is “Wings of Enightenment.”

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Comment from Earthshine
Time: June 30, 2008, 3:13 am

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
-T. S. Eliot Four Quartets

This web site is beyond the Beyond. It is crazy good. Overflowing with true compassionate support and good ol’ bhakti yoga. Bodhipaksa, I would just like to say: You the man! The Wingman! You are a beacon of the Light of humanity and your speech is of the unfolding of the Dharma. So… the first, primordial buddha is Samantabhadra, Siddhartha is the fourth buddha Sakyamuni and then there’s the fifth, future buddha, Maitreya. Could you possibly further clarify concerning the nature or energy of the five historical buddhas?

Until then,
Wu-wei

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 1, 2008, 9:22 am

Hi Earthshine,

Thanks very much for your kind comments. It’s encouraging to receive expressions of appreciation.

I’m afraid I don’t know much about these other Buddhas. There seem to be various lists in different traditions, with differing numbers of supposedly historical Buddhas. Dipankara, Shakyamuni and Maitreya make up the set of Buddhas of the past, present, and future. There’s also a list of five Buddhas of the present kalpa, but I know next to nothing about them. I’m not even sure that there is much information out there on the topic! It may be that there are sutras waiting to be translated that give more information on these other Buddhas, or they may be, in effect, no more than placeholder names that outline a supposed lineage. Or it may be that there’s information out there that I just haven’t come across yet — and that’s quite probable since I haven’t ever thought to do any research on this. My own background is rooted in a study of the Pali scriptures (plus practice of largely Theravadin meditation) as well as study of the more common Mahayana scriptures. There’s a lot of more exotic stuff out there that I’m simply unfamiliar with. If you find any good sources please let me know!

Getting back to these other Buddhas, though: one problem is that the tradition became very stereotypical. It was assumed that the legends surrounding Shakyamuni provided a basic framework that described the life of all historical Buddhas, and so if you come across a “biography” of another Buddha (and I do remember reading an account of either Dipankara or Kashapa — I can’t recall which) you’ll notice that it runs through the same patterns: born to a rich family, renounces the world, becomes enlightened, has two chief disciples and an attendant, etc.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from debbie
Time: July 20, 2008, 5:46 pm

how are these names pronounced avalokiteshvara and chenrezig

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 20, 2008, 6:33 pm

Hi Debbie,

I’ve added a rough pronunciation guide — just hover over the first instances of these two names on this page to see it. These are very approximate, I’m afraid.

Take care,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Haryanto
Time: November 5, 2008, 3:40 am

Namo Buddhaya, I just want to add to this forum about my self experience occured when practising the chanting of the mantra. There were very bright light surrouinding, body seems to be elevated and the mind were filled with energy of compassion for all . Sadhu sadhu sadhu

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Comment from yanjiaren
Time: November 28, 2008, 5:05 pm

I love Avalokiteswara so much and cry all the time when I think that He wants to save everyone. I never knew he had made this vow and I was shocked because when I was in a temple and contemplating i got the message that if Buddha is Compassionate, He can’t leave anyone behind..hence Avalokiteswara..it really shocked me that Avalokite is alive and around..Like Kidhr A.s. is to Muslims, the Green Immortal that helps people when they need it. i know this may sound soppy but I imagine Avalokite embracing the Planet with those 1000 arms, it’s a nice snug thought at bedtime that makes me not fear death anymore.
Love and peace to you all.

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Comment from Brandon
Time: March 18, 2009, 1:16 pm

Thank you for the info. Om Mani Padme Hum

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Comment from Sareena11
Time: April 11, 2009, 5:33 pm

I had picked up a tapestry of Avalokitishvara the teacher when I was 19. Amazing! I did not know what a wonderful tool this was when I have hung it in my abode. I feel deeply connected to this presence.

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Comment from Buddhist Believer
Time: April 13, 2009, 4:27 pm

Avalokitishvara is also known as Kwan Yin Pusa. She is a female Goddess of Compassion. She can be a male or female. I believe, it is said that, when appearing in front of all the male monks, Avalokitishvara is shy and so, she transform herself into a male Buddha. She disguised herself. Truely Avalokitishvara is a SHE. I even saw her in my dreams a few times standing by the beautiful clear water river or lake with many collectible rocks, smiles at me and spoken a few words to me. She mostly appearing riding on a green dragon and by the river. She appear in white robe and bared foot.

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Comment from urgyen tsering
Time: July 3, 2009, 1:11 am

Please explain more elaborately the mantra of THOUSAND ARMED BODDHISATTVA OF COMPASSION. May your spring forth with
thousand branches and thousand fruits.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 4, 2009, 10:50 am

I did some work a few years back converting the dharani of the 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara from mangled Tibetanized Sanskrit into something resembling proper Sanskrit, and on a translation. Some of it was pure guesswork though, so I’ve just emailed my work to Jayarava to get his opinion. If he’s happy to do check out my work on the mantra I’ll be happy to post our joint efforts.

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Comment from Ritzy
Time: July 28, 2009, 3:46 pm

pl tell me the pronounciation of OM MANI PADME HUM. I am so upset. I chant: OM MANI PADME HUU (m silent)

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 28, 2009, 3:59 pm

Hi Ritzy,

May I suggest reading the article?

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Comment from liquidquick
Time: October 18, 2009, 10:14 pm

‘lo,

was just curious to know when one would recite the mid-length great compassion mantra vs. when one would recite the longer version? do the two have different purposes/effects, or are they equivalent from a practice standpoint?

(the lazy-butt in me is hoping the latter, since i already have the mid-length memorized, and have been reciting it for weeks as part of my meditation routine…)

thanks,
lq

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Comment from giri
Time: October 20, 2009, 11:58 pm

may lord of compasionate will blessed us may his guardian will always stayed inside us
om mani padme hum
namo avalokitesvara bodhisatva

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Comment from Ritu
Time: November 9, 2009, 1:29 am

HI i m thoroughly confused about pronounciation,,do we say like this–Om ma nee pad mae om?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 9, 2009, 10:34 am

Hi Ritu,

It would be helpful if you could tell me precisely what in the pronunciation guide and in the audio posted above in unclear. I’ll be happy to change the guide is there’s some ambiguity. To reply to your final question, what you’ve written could be pronounced in a number of different ways, but the last syllable is definitely incorrect. “Hum” is not pronounced “om.”

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Comment from Audrey
Time: December 9, 2009, 3:31 am

Hello there, I was hoping to find someone who can help me understand this Avalokiteshvara Mantra I’ve been listening to:

Namo Ratna Trayaya
Namo Arya Jnana
Sagara, Vairochana
Byuhara Jara Tathagataya
Arahate, Samyaksam Buddhaya
Namo Sardwa Tathagate Bhyay
Ar-hata Bhyah
Samyaksam Buddhe Bhyay
Namo Arya Avalokite
Shoraya Bodhisattvaya
Maha Sattvaya
Maha Karunikaya
Tadyata, Om Dara Dara
Diri Diri Duru Duru
Itte We, Itte Chale Chale
Purachale Purachale
Kusume Kusuma Wa Re
Ili Milli Chiti Ja-valam Apanaye Shoha

Do you know where this mantra is derived? And what merits are there in learning this by heart and chanting it everyday?

Thank you so much.

With kindest regards,
Audrey

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Comment from liquidquick
Time: December 9, 2009, 2:05 pm

audrey,

this is a form of the great compassion dharani that i mentioned in a comment slightly farther up – also known as Arya Ekadasa Mukha Dharani, mantra for the holy eleven faced avalokitesvara. i have been chanting this mantra in this form daily since september and have found it to be quite effective for bringing about a sense of active compassion. go to wikipedia and look up nilakantha dharani – it will show you the full length mantra along with translations and listing of benefits for its recitation.

originally, i had questioned whether there was an advantage to reciting the full length great compassion dharani over this version (besides the obvious exercise in mindfulness associated with memorizing and learning to pronounce a longer, somewhat more complex version), but all of the information i have found points to no – that this version embodies the same seed principle as the full version and is just as efficacious provided your heart-intent is present and sincere.

the only place that i have seen this exact version used outside of personal practice is in a formal sadhana to white chenrezig… and now i can’t find the link… but i’ll keep digging – unfortunately, i’m approaching this from an outsider perspective who can’t read tibettan or sanskrit or chinese, so that’s making the gathering of information somewhat more difficult.

-lq

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 10, 2009, 10:50 pm

Yes, this is the mantra of the 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara. The version I have, which is an attempt to correct a corrupted Tibetan version is:

Namo Ratna Trayāya, (homage to the triple gem)

Namah Aryā Jñāna Sāgara, (homage to the ocean of noble wisdom)

Vairocana, (the illuminator)
Vyuharajāya (to the king of the host [also the name of a bodhisattva])

Tathagatāya, (to the tathagata)

Arhate, (to the arhat)

Samyak sambuddhāya, (to the perfectly awakened one)

Nama Sarva TathagatebhyaH (homage to all tathagatas)

ArhatebhyaH, (to the arhats)

Samyak SambuddhebhyaH, (to the fully and perfectly awakened ones)

Nama Aryā Avalokiteshvarāya (homage to noble Avalokitesvara)

Bodhisattvāya, (to the bodhisattva)

Maha Sattvāya, (to the great being)

Maha Karunikāya, (to the greatly compassionate one)

Tadyatha (thus):
Om Dhāra Dhāra, (bearing)

Dhīri Dhīri, (firm)

Dhuru Dhuru (bearing a burden)

Itte Vatte, (??)

Cale Cale, (moving, trembling, shaking)

Pracale Pracale, (moving, trembling, shaking)

Kusume (in flower)

Kusume 
Vare, (in the circumference)

Hili Mili (??)

Citi Jvālam, (blazing understanding)

Apanaye Svāhā. (leading away) hail!

The “translation” towards the end involves a lot of guesswork. Even Jayarava, who’s pretty hot on the Sanskrit these days, couldn’t make much of it.

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Comment from Audrey
Time: December 11, 2009, 1:56 am

Thank you liquidquick, bodhipaksa!

A rinpoche my mother was once hosting, adviced me to chant the Green Tara Mantra because it would help me. But I enjoy listening to this Great Compassion Mantra (that’s what it’s called right?) and would really love to memorise this by heart one day if I can.

I think listening to the music and singing along with it (as if it were some pop tune) also helps? It’s doesn’t have to be a sombre, serious affair whereby I have to sit down and meditate and chant it in a repetitive manner?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 11, 2009, 9:56 am

Rock it, Audrey!

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Comment from R
Time: February 25, 2010, 3:36 am

Is it ok if i chant all 3:
1. OM MANI PADME HUM
2. NAMO GUAN SHI YIN PUSA
3. NAM MYOHO RENGE KYO

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 25, 2010, 12:26 pm

Hi, R.

Sure, why not. Thanks for sharing the Guan Yin, mantra, by the way. I hadn’t come across it before.

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Comment from cal
Time: March 13, 2010, 6:46 am

hi R, while it is ok to chant all 3 in general, for practise, it is still wise to choose one that correspond to your heart mostly.

“om mani padme hum” is the well known mantra that invokes the 2 main qualities of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva for your very own spiritual well being – that is compassion (mani) and wisdom (padme).

“namo guan shi yin pusa” is the chinese translation of Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattava’s name. Following the popular “Universal Door Chapter” of the Lotus Sutra, Chinese Buddhism popularise the chanting of the Bodhisattva’s name because the chapter taught the many merits one can gain by reciting the Bodhisattva’s name, especially when one is in danger or feeling helpless.

“namo myoho renge kyo” is not really a practise that has direct connection with Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva though. while it is made popular by Nichiren Sect (Japanese), Nichiren Sect itself till today may still has some hierarchy problems in connecting themselves to the mainstream of East Asian Buddhism due to some differences in the teachings. but still that is a buddhist sectarian problem. there is nothing wrong, in fact, with chanting “namo myoho renge kyo” because that is a japanese translation of “Homage to the Lotus Sutra”. in fact, the Lotus Sutra itself also taught the merits of upholding the name of the sutra.

hope i did not confuse you or anyone else. if you feel more inclined to Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva and would like to learn Buddhism through him/her, you can choose from a dozens of methods that has direct connection with him/her. but whatever method you choose, all methods of Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva is to teach and invoke the compassion and wisdom in oneself.

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Comment from sudhocitta
Time: March 25, 2010, 9:14 am

I have been reciting the full version of great compassion mantra in Sanskrit everyday repeatedly untill finally i master it by heart . Anyhow, i have doubt about my pronounciation in sanskrit form. So, can anyone please show me any weblink available for Sanskrit chanting of Great Compassion mantra .Thank you.

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Comment from john
Time: April 4, 2010, 10:59 pm

Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a practice directly connected to Avalokitesvara. The compassion of Avalokitesvara and his wisdom as “As the Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds” are described in the 25th Chapter of Myoho Renge Kyo (Mystic Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra). The strongest Japanese proponent of chanting the title of Lotus Flower Sutra was Nichiren in the 13th century. Nichiren said “this chapter is is one of profound secrecy…it deals with averting disaster…prolonging one’s life span…the king among pivotal sutras…through it one may carry on the teachings of the highest stage of enlightenment.” Nichiren concludes “the ‘Preceiver of the World’s Sounds’ represents the essence of the Lotus Sutra…(and Avalokitesvara’s)..essence is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”.

For me, the important point is “universal gateway perceiving sounds”. That is, pay more attention to empty space which sound appears in. Again, gateway.

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Comment from Guy Davidson
Time: July 6, 2010, 6:07 pm

The Dr Who story you’re thinking of is Planet Of The Spiders, 1974; this is also where I first heard the chant

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 6, 2010, 6:13 pm

Wow! Thanks! I must see if I can get hold of a copy.

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Comment from Guy Davidson
Time: July 6, 2010, 6:26 pm

having said that, it appeared earlier in a 1967 story called The Abominable Snowmen, set in Tibet: I suspect that might be the one you remember. Only exists as audio now though.

http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/5-2.htm

http://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/11-5.htm (you can get this on DVD)

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 6, 2010, 6:33 pm

Yes, that sounds more like it. I did in fact remember it as being in an episode featuring the abominable snowman, but I assumed, given what you said in your last post, that I’d misremembered. I’m only seeing “Planet of the Spiders” on VHS on Amazon. Ah, just checked on Wikipedia and it says it’s coming out on DVD later this year. Fantastic! Thanks very much for the leads.

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Comment from Clarence Hill
Time: July 24, 2010, 10:30 am

Thank you very much. I am also new at this and have a great interest in studying this and other Buddhist practices. I just found out about the Aryaloka Buddhist Center and the Triratna community and I am very interested in knowing more. I live in the Tilton, N.H. area so Newmarket is a little far for me. Is there a small group that I could perhaps contact in this area?
I have read you comments on a number of differant topics and you have been very heplful. You are of great service to so many, great blessings and peace to you.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 24, 2010, 11:40 am

Hi Clarence,

Thanks for your kind words. I teach at Aryaloka myself.

There’s no group closer to you than Newmarket, I’m afraid, except for the prison classes that meet on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings in concord. That might not exactly be what you’re looking for, and to participate you’d have to go through a prison volunteer training course, so it’s not ideal.

There are some all-day events at Aryaloka at weekends, and it’s not really that far to travel for a full day. Perhaps that’s the best solution?

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Comment from Sean
Time: November 2, 2010, 8:45 pm

Chanting this mantra has really inspired my practice, I always visualise Avolokitisvera as a kind wise old man resting his hands on my shoulders, while chanting. It has really helped me to generate some very positive emotions which I carry with me throughout my day. Found this very beautiful version of it on youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILFgoExfegQ&feature=related

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Comment from Clint
Time: February 6, 2011, 3:58 pm

Hi there, just a quick question to Bodhipaksa, what do you think of Nichiren Buddhism? I’ve heard a lot of controversy regarding the Sokka Gakkai but I have heard a lot of very positive things about the Nichiren Shu sect. Since Nichiren Shu goes for refuge to the Three Jewels etc they are regarded as being followers of Buddha Shakyamuni but my question is, what do you make of their teaching that the Lotus Sutra is the highest of Buddha’s teachings? I’ve tried chanting their chant and it does really calm the mind. I just wanted your input :-)

Thanks
Clint

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 6, 2011, 4:20 pm

As I understand Nichiren’s teachings (which I’ve never studied, so this is all second-hand), he claimed that all Buddhist schools but his were heretical and did not lead to enlightenment, and that the only authentic way to gain enlightenment was through the Lotus Sutra. So it seems that he didn’t just regard it as the highest Buddhist teaching (it isn’t one of the Buddha’s teachings, of course, coming centuries after the parinirvana) but as the only effective Buddhist teaching. I find all this very offputting. That’s not to say that there might not be many fine, open-minded, and tolerant followers of Nichiren’s teachings, but I disagree with Nichiren’s perspective. I don’t think there’s anything in the later Buddhist tradition that’s more profound than the Pali scriptures. Sangharakshita once said that there are higher teachings, only deeper understandings. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Later teachings are not necessarily “higher.” They just have different emphases and new metaphors. But they’re different emphases concerning the same truths that the Buddha outlined and that were later recorded as the Pali canon.

It doesn’t surprise me that chanting the “mantra” calms the mind. I think chanting virtually anything calms the mind, because it takes up mental space that would otherwise be occupied with the hindrances!

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Comment from Rayno
Time: February 9, 2011, 9:05 am

Hello Mr. Bodhi

I have found that this mantra has a variation: Om Mani Padme Hum Hrih. Hrih is secretly chanted. Is that true?
How to chant Hrih?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum#Variation

thank you

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 9, 2011, 10:14 am

I’ve never come across that particular variation.

But I do explain the pronunciation of hrih here.

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Comment from nishka
Time: April 1, 2011, 12:07 am

hello

i have been searching for this answer for long ….can you help me??
I love listening to the mantra of Avalokiteshwara and have even found the lyrics….yet can you tell me how to pronounce the words for they sound different from the written text.

Namo Ratna Trayaya,
Namo Arya Jnana
Sagara, Vairochana,
Byuhara Jara Tathagataya,
Arahate, Samyaksam Buddhaya,
Namo Sarwa Tathagate Bhyay,
Arhata Bhyah,
Samyaksam Buddhe Bhyah,
Namo Arya Avalokite
shoraya Bodhisattvaya,
Maha Sattvaya,
Maha Karunikaya,
Tadyata, Om Dara Dara,
Diri Diri, Duru Duru
Itte We, Itte Chale Chale,
Purachale Purachale,
Kusume Kusuma Wa Re,
Ili Milli, Chiti Jvalam, Apanaye Shoha

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 1, 2011, 12:17 am

Hi, Nishka.

You’ll find the same mantra further up this page. I’ve posted (also on this page, in one of the comments) a version in corrected Sanskrit (to the best of my ability). Sanskrit pronunciation is very phonetic, so any guide to Sanskrit pronunciation will tell you how it’s pronounced. If it’s a Tibetan chanter you’re comparing the written form to, be aware that Tibetans utterly mangle Sanskrit pronunciation.

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Comment from nishka
Time: April 1, 2011, 12:42 am

Thanks:) i am listening to the tibetian version so i guess i should hear the sanskrit version to decipher!!

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Comment from Rayno
Time: April 1, 2011, 4:22 am

Helllo again Mr Bodhipaksa, hope you well and happy

@Nishka:

here is the video, contained the dharani you had searched.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oazI_zsrlko

that is the short version of Maha Karuna Dharani, this short version is popular in Vajrayana

enjoy!

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Comment from kunal
Time: April 21, 2011, 1:56 pm

hello bodhipaksha,
im buddhist by religion but i dont follow it very seriously. but todays i coincidently found ur site and im really thankful 2 u. i feel reconnected with the religion again……….from now on ill try to chant these mantra regularly………….thanks again………..OM MANI PADME HUM….

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Comment from Maleesha
Time: June 17, 2011, 7:48 am

Hello,

Nice to see this site. i am Buddhist (therawada) but last few years i am also following Mahayana. Specially Bhodhisatwa ‘s way…… i am didnt know some engish world to expane that thing pls i am sorry.

i ll tell special one thing. i belive and trust Avalokitheshwara Bhodhisathwa Mahasathwa….

in ur life at any time or any point if ur helpless please be remebr and talk to Avalokitheshwara to help me….. if some body try to hit u r fightng with u. rember his name and call him to give a help to me…. then u can sold ur problem harmoney and peace

rember Avalokitheshwara Bhodhisathwa is more powerful when u call his name to “help me Aalokitheshwara” sure u can sold ur problem. he have 1000 arms (but the meaning is he is very powerful)

Aalokitheshwara is the most kindest Mahasathwa then he will help every onea and he is very powerful. his power is expanded all univers….. trust me. i am following his way!!!!!!!!!

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Comment from Sangay linkins
Time: July 29, 2011, 2:17 am

Is there a Tibetan pronunciation of the great compassion mantra, sutra of the past vows of earth, the surangama sutra, the mantra of rebirth, the diamond sutra and the mahastamaprapta sutra to amitabha yhuangtongzhaung? I am Tibetan and find that the Tibetan sutras are easer to pronounce than the Chinese and sanskrit ones. Please help!

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 29, 2011, 8:18 am

I’m afraid I don’t know, but perhaps someone else here can help you.

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Comment from Sangay linkins
Time: July 29, 2011, 11:07 am

Can someone please help me with the translation of the short palden lhamo and set rap Chen mantra.

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Comment from Jill
Time: August 21, 2011, 9:31 am

Thank you very much. I have just discovered this site. I am only just beginning with buddhism but feeling at home so much. My deepest love and peace to all sentient beings

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Comment from Clint
Time: September 6, 2011, 3:35 pm

Hi there! I’d just like to ask if anyone knows the Mantra of Buddha Maitreya? Thanks!

Clint

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 6, 2011, 6:55 pm

It’s oṃ maitri mahāmaitri maitriye svāhā.

Jayarava has a page on the mantra here: http://www.visiblemantra.org/maitreya.html

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Pingback from Heart Sutra short version — Udumbara Garden
Time: September 14, 2011, 6:53 pm

[…] Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva,when pursuing the deep prajñaparamita,recognized the five skandhas as completely emptyand passed beyond all vexations and distress. […]

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Comment from kevin
Time: December 31, 2011, 4:02 pm

Whats the difference between Chenrizig and Bhaisajyaguru? Ca one chant both mantras during the day or should you just stick to one for focus purpose?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 31, 2011, 6:51 pm

Hi, Kevin.

You can chant both mantras, no problem.

I’m not sure what you’re asking in the first part of the question. They’re different figures, and I’d suggest reading the descriptions if you want to see what the differences are.

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Comment from kevin
Time: January 2, 2012, 8:04 pm

Thanks Bodhipaksa. I was curious about the qualitative difference between Bhaisajyaguru and Chenrizig. It seems that one is a Buddha and one a Bodhisattva. The question now is where can one find a qualified teacher? I live in Cleveland and unless you got 500$+ to spend in a nearby state its no dice for beginning a practice. What do you think?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: January 2, 2012, 8:30 pm

I’m glad you managed to find the answer to your question.

There are some good Buddhist groups in Cleveland. You’d probably be in good hands with either the Shambhala folks (http://cleveland.shambhala.org) or the Insight Meditation people (http://insightmeditationofcleveland.org/). These aren’t in my own tradition, but they’re organizations I respect a lot.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from confused
Time: March 25, 2012, 7:33 pm

i dont have much knowledge about bhuddism but im curious to know if there was 1 buddha then why are there so many sects paractising and chanting different mantras….what is d difference between om mani padme hum and nam mayoho renge kyo.is the latter one part of orignal buddhism?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 25, 2012, 10:48 pm

Well, every religion and philosophy evolves, and Buddhism is no exception. This evolution takes place in response to the developments in individual people’s practice, to developments in the surrounding culture, and to encountering entirely new cultures. So you get new mantras emerging, and mantras changing over time. Neither Om Mani Padme Hum not Nam Myoho Renge Kyo were part of original Buddhism, which no longer exists and can’t even be fully reconstructed. The first is an Indian mantra connected with Avalokiteshvara (aka Manipadma) and the second is the Japanese mantra of the While Lotus Sutra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka).

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Comment from Brandon
Time: March 26, 2012, 12:06 am

@ Confused, also there are an infinite number of buddhas through out the Universe, not just one.

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Comment from confused
Time: March 26, 2012, 3:15 am

thank you for the answer.

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Comment from sriram
Time: March 28, 2012, 1:18 pm

If the mantra is so powerful then why do some of the tibetan monks who recite this mantra day in and day out immolate themselves.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 28, 2012, 5:06 pm

I don’t really understand your question. It’s not as if they’re killing themselves because they’re depressed. They’re sacrificing themselves as a way of protesting, in order to save their culture, and their people, from annihilation. I don’t approve of such actions, but I can understand why they’re driven to such extremes. If someone were to burn to death running into a building in order to save people, we don’t question their actions. From the point of view of these self-immolating monks and nuns, they are in effect running into a burning building in order to save an entire culture. There’s certainly courage involved. Whether or not these actions are wise, I can’t say. It may be that these extreme protests simply lead to more repression by the Chinese.

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Comment from kevin
Time: March 29, 2012, 4:28 pm

hey just cuz some guy sets himself on fire in protest that shouldnt reflect on the teachings or the methods of buddhist practice. come on sriram, that question is unfair. countless beings derive benefit from those mantras. clearly those guys are in need of attention….i dont agree with those acts and the exiled tibetan authorities do not agree with it either.

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Comment from Richard Alcott
Time: August 6, 2012, 10:17 am

How can I replay the mantras?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 6, 2012, 10:18 am

Are you having problems, Richard? If so, can you be more specific about what the problem is?

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Comment from Kim
Time: September 24, 2012, 5:20 am

Thanks for compiling the site, it was a great read :) and I also enjoyed reading everyone’s different experiences in their different methods of meditating. I think it’s this understanding, flexibility and open minded approach that is the reason why I relate so much more to Buddhism than any other religion – Kim

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Comment from Michael Phillips
Time: March 11, 2013, 9:55 pm

Thanks for this article. I have been increasingly drawn towards Buddhist thought recently. I have recently also read “The Lotus Sutra”. I have been chanting Nam-Myoho-Rengo-Kyo. My understanding of Nichiren Buddhism is that it is more of a lay Buddhist path designed to build faith in the Buddha and the path to Enlightenment. Most people are not ready to become a monk, but may be willing to set up their karma in such a way that full on pursuit of Enlightenment might be possible later on.
Having felt a need for compassion during some difficult times recently, I’ve been thinking about Avalokitesvara a lot recently. Just thinking about him gives me a warm feeling in my heart. So I will now be chanting Om Mani Padme Hum as well. Is it proper to hold a specific need in mind while doing this?

Also, the prior posts on the Doctor Who episode are correct, both stories mentioned featured “Om Mani Padme Hum” being chanted. In the “Planet of the Spiders” it was used for nefarious purposes by the villains (like that’s possible! but it was a fantasy). The producer of the show during that time, Barry Letts, was a devout Buddhist. He later admitted he knew nothing about Tibetan Buddhism at the time and had used the mantra incorrectly in the story.

The one you’re probably thinking of is “The Abominable Snowmen” though, which is set in Tibet in a Buddhist monastery. An alien intelligence has possessed the Lama. The Doctor implores his companion Victoria to chant the Jewel of the Lotus mantra during the finale. You’re lucky to have seen it! The BBC has since thrown all but one episode of the story away.
–Michael

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Comment from D Ong
Time: April 29, 2013, 5:29 am

Hi,

I prayed to Avalokiteshvara in temple. However, it is only in recent months that I started to read and understand the teachings of Buddha. I also read the Universal Door Chapter and chant the Great Compassion Mantra daily when possible.

But I am not sure if there is a proper procedure to start/end a chanting session which may include the Three Refuge, Transfer of Merit etc. How often it should be done? When is an appropriate time and place? Can somebody advise on this?

Also, how should I start/end my prayer if I would want to pray for something? e.g. good health to somebody, safety etc.

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Comment from ANdrew Weeks
Time: July 25, 2013, 9:53 pm

I was raised Christian but over the last 17 years have been exposed to Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, Native American Sweatlodge, Judaism. Have learned different spiritual practices within those faiths,but still cannot decide which path suits me. Can you offer any advice on where to start? I love Jack Kornfield and Sharon Salzberg and Pema CHodron. I am at intermediate level in meditation but need a community of friends badly!! What should i do?

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Comment from Janet Pal
Time: September 8, 2013, 8:10 am

Bodhipaksa, I have a question and I apologize if it has been answered and I’ve missed it. I had a wonderful opportunity to see Thich Nhat Hanh in Toronto recently and was so moved by the monks and nuns chanting of Namo Valokiteshvara. Throughout the chant, Thay repeated several mudras, beginning with his hand over his heart, followed by his hand held in front of him with the thumb touching the tip of the third finger and the other fingers extended, and then I think the same finger positions with the arm extended. I’m guessing that the mudras represent feeling our own suffering, seeing it clearly and with compassion, and then extending that compassion to the suffering in the world. Do you happen to know if that is correct? Thanks in advance!

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 8, 2013, 10:21 am

Hi, Janet.

You’d really have to ask someone from Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition what the precise meaning is. It sounds like a gesture of blessing, but I can’t be sure. Sorry!

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Stable Mountain Pine of the Heart
Time: September 21, 2013, 11:47 am

To Andrew Weeks-
Maybe you want to google search
for sanghas in or near your location. Or search Thich Nhat Hanh sanghas in your are.
Peace

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Comment from LingXi
Time: September 29, 2013, 11:08 pm

Buddham saranam gachhami
Sangham saranam gachhami
Dharmam saranam gachhami

I read these during my teens with the translation. But I forgot totally bout it now. Can u give me the translation. Is it part of a mantra. When shd I chant it. I mean under what circumstances.

Thank you

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 2, 2013, 11:24 am

I’ve written something about the refuge formula here, LingXi: http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/refuges-precepts

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Comment from Yvonne
Time: December 8, 2013, 9:39 am

What an excellent article on the angel avalokitesvara. he has an important role in esoteric traditions, and is a wonderful personal exemplar. we are learning more and more in these times about the beings that support us as we journey upwards…thanks for sharing your experience, this blog is a keeper! blessings to you

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Comment from Deepti
Time: June 11, 2014, 12:34 am

The mantra om mani padme him is truly wonderful. I started chanting the mantra 1000 times a day when HH Dalai Lama appeared in my dreams and kept his hand over my head. I experienced pure bliss at that moment and vowed to chant the mantra everyday till my last breath. I noticed that my fiery temper is reducing in its intensity day by day and I feel more tolerant and compassionate towards other beings..which is a wonderful feeling. I had a serious chronic ailment and took refuge in Tibetan medicine. What 15 allopathic doctors couldn’t heal, Tibetan medicine worked wonders within a month and now I am completely free from the disease. Hail the Buddha and his greatness!!

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Comment from isvasu
Time: July 26, 2014, 8:13 pm

Bodhipaksa highly appreciated for your translation here.
I did not realize until now that many words are very familiar in Thai. I would like to compare these words to the words in Thai (to help the Thai to recognize it). Thanks.

Namo Ratna Trayāya, นะโม รัตนตรัย (homage to the triple gem)

Namah Aryā นามะ อารยะ Jñāna Sāgara สาคร, (homage to the ocean of noble wisdom)

Vairocana ไวโรจน์, (the illuminator)
Vyuharajāya พยุหราชาย์(to the king of the host [also the name of a bodhisattva])

Tathagatāya ตถาคต, (to the tathagata)

Arhate อารหัต , (to the arhat)

Samyak sambuddhāya, (to the perfectly awakened one)

Nama Sarva สรรพ TathagatebhyaH (homage to all tathagatas)

ArhatebhyaH, (to the arhats)

Samyak SambuddhebhyaH, (to the fully and perfectly awakened ones)

Nama Aryā อารยะ Avalokiteshvarāya อวโลกิเตศวร (homage to noble Avalokitesvara)

Bodhisattvāya, (to the bodhisattva)

Maha Sattvāya, (to the great being)

Maha Karunikāya, (to the greatly compassionate one)

Tadyatha (thus):
Om Dhāra Dhāra, (bearing)

Dhīri Dhīri, (firm)

Dhuru Dhuru ธุระ (bearing a burden)

Itte Vatte, (??)

Cale จล Cale, (moving, trembling, shaking)

Pracale ประจล Pracale, (moving, trembling, shaking)

Kusume กุสุเม(in flower)

Kusume 
Vare, (in the circumference)

Hili Mili (??)

Citi จิตติ Jvālam ชวาลา , (blazing understanding)

Apanaye อาปนะ Svāhā สวาหะ (leading away) hail

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Comment from brock wood
Time: October 15, 2014, 7:22 pm

Amazing informative website.

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