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Meditating on Tibetan Mantra: Aum Mani Padme Hum

There are more than several similarities between Traditional Indian Schools of Yoga and Tibetan traditions of Buddhism and Tantra Yoga. Tibetan teachings date back to roughly 200 BC (while the Vedas which forms the Upanishads, date back to roughly 1,200 BC). Many seekers and teachers including myself, believe that the original teachings were from one same source, and over the earliest years of our current civilization, had gotten dispersed.

Tibetan Yoga focuses substantially on Mantra Invocations. Sound has become something that many commercial Yoga centers leave out nowadays. Many conventional Yoga gyms and studios have avoided the practice of Mantra and Meditation to attract more customers and avoid possibly coming across as religious.

(More about that misconception of Yoga appearing ‘religious’ in another discussion.)

There are many similarities between the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and the Upanishads; although I like both, personally I feel the deepest connection to the Upanishads more than anything else. Each time i read a verse from any of the 12 major texts, it seems to be talking right at me, and it feels like home.

However, something about Tibetan Buddhism catches my attention – the Mantras.

The word Mantra comes from the root word ‘Man’ which means “Mind”. Mantras are sound invocations to adjust the control panels of our Mind. And it is totally cool because these invocations work even if the reciter does not understand the full meaning of a Mantra. As long as full attention and feeling is given when singing the Mantra, the effects would be felt.

One time, in a TV interview, the host asked the Dalai Lama his Holiness to translate and explain the meaning of the well-known Tibetan Mantra “Aum Mani Padme Hum”. Smiling with the innocence of a child, and shaking his head gently he said “Oh no no no, it is impossible to translate into English.”

That is the superiority of Mantra over language. Be it English, French, Mandarin, or any other language, regardless of the richness of the history, it is still a meaning-based tool, and bears little power over working on the subtle entities of thought and emotion. In fact, language is often a subject of our thoughts and emotions. We speak a certain way because we have a certain thought or emotion.

While we could attempt to understand roughly the vibrational meaning of a Mantra, it is simply not possible to capture the full meaning of a Mantra into words.

Let’s look at the Mantra in a little bit more detail:

Aum

Containing 3 pronunciations – Ah – Uh – Mm, this sound represents the past, present and future dimensions. It also symbolizes the cleansing and transformation of impurities of the body, mind and speech.

Mani

This sound is given to mean ‘Jewel’ or a ‘Precious Stone’. It symbolizes the preciousness, and purity of our intention. That in all that we say and act, we base our intention on compassion. Compassion for ourselves and others.

Padme

This symbolizes the flower ‘Lotus’. Think of the Lotus flower that is grows from mud, and yet keeping its head above water and looking clean, beautiful and serene. In the same way, this invocation reminds us to always keep our head above water, to maintain our ‘Lotusness’ even in the face of mud. One can also take the meaning further to understand that the spiritual journey involves mud coming into life, and that mud is inevitable. But we can still remain Lotus-like, and we have the power and discernment to choose people and situations that perpetuate our Lotusness.

Hum

This symbolizes the methodology and wisdom for transforming impure to pure. So that when we call out the Mantra, we will find the right method towards the right wisdom.

The right method brings us right wisdom; and then we will have wisdom to choose the right method. 

Brilliant and beautiful isn’t it? I hope you may find this useful, and that you would start using this Mantra for meditation.

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

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