Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Definition of Om Mani Padme Hum

There seems to be some confusion as to the true meaning of the most popular mantra/chant in the world "Om mani padme hum." Ask any number of individuals from Buddhist scholars to your buddy at yoga class and you'll get as many slants on the definition as the day is long. So here are three of the best definitions I could find. They work for me...but that's just me...

In Gassho,


H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama's definition:

"It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, 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 [...] symbolizes the practitioner's impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[...]"

"The path is indicated by the next four syllables. Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method: (the) altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.[...]"

"The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom[..]"

"Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility[...]"

"Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[...]"
-- H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, "Om Mani Padme Hum"[7]

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's definition:

"The mantra Om Mani Päme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.

"So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.

The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?"
— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones[8]

Karma Thubten Trinley's definition:

"These are the six syllables which prevent rebirth into the six realms of cyclic existence. It translates literally as 'OM the jewel in the lotus HUM'. OM prevents rebirth in the god realm, MA prevents rebirth in the Asura (Titan) Realm, NI prevents rebirth in the Human realm, PA prevents rebirth in the Animal realm, ME prevents rebirth in the Hungry ghost realm, and HUM prevents rebirth in the Hell realm."
—Karma Thubten Trinley[citation needed]


  1. A couple of years ago I bought a Mini Buddha in a Box. It is as the name said, a mini statue of Buddha, incense and holder, a little stand for him to sit on, and small well written book about the Buddha. It talked about the chant Om Mani Padme Hum. After the first reading it has stayed in my head. I notice that when I am stressed out I can hear myself chanting it in my head.

  2. It it wonderful to hear how you benefit from this great mantra. Om Mani Padme Hum is traditionally chanted to the benevolent Chenrezig for loving kindness. This mantra can be used for any reason. What I truly like about mantras is that you can say a mantra aloud or to yourself and your attention is centered on the mantra therefore stopping all outside distractions from coming in. It helps still my mind because all I'm focusing on is the mantra and not agendas, grocery lists, arguments or other stress filled things. Namo Amituofo is another beautiful mantra. It is a mantra of the Buddha of Infinite Light and Wisdom. People have been known to chant it thousands of times a day. It keeps one focused, clear minded, peaceful and in touch with all the positive attributes of the Buddha. We all can be Buddhas Amy! Pretty cool 'eh?

    In Gassho,



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