Osho explains the expression ‘om mani padme hum’, its secrets and the Tibetan angle
Would you like to say something about the famous Tibetan Mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum”?
The only country in the world which has devoted all its genius to the inner exploration is Tibet. Its findings are of tremendous value. Om mani padme hum is one of the most beautiful expressions for the ultimate experience. Its meaning is “the sound of silence, the diamond in the lotus.”
Silence also has its sound, its music… although the outer ears cannot hear it, just as the outer eyes cannot see it. We have six outer senses. In the past man knew only that we have five outer senses; the sixth is a new discovery. It is inside your ears; hence people failed to recognize it. It is the sense of balance. When you feel giddy or when you see a drunkard walking, it is the sense of balance that is affected.
Just as these six senses are used to experience the outer, exactly the same six senses exist to experience the inner – to see it, to hear it, to feel its utter balance, its beauty. It is invisible to the outer eyes but not to the inner. You cannot touch it with your outer senses, but the inner senses are absolutely immersed in it.
OM is the sound when everything else disappears from your being – no thought, no dream, no projections, no expectations, not even a single ripple – your whole lake of consciousness is simply silent; it has become just a mirror. In those rare moments you hear the sound of silence. It is the most valuable experience because it not only shows a quality of the inner music – it also shows that the inner is full of harmony, joy, blissfulness. All that is implied in the music of OM.
You are not to say it. If you say it you will miss the real thing. You have to hear it, you have to be utterly calm and quiet and suddenly it is all around you, a very subtle dance. And the moment you are able to hear it, you have entered into the very secrets of existence. You have become so subtle that now you deserve that all the mysteries be exposed to you.
Existence waits till you are ready.
In the East all the religions without exception agree on this point, that the sound which is heard in the final, highest peak of silence is something similar to OM.
The word OM is not written alphabetically in any language of the East because it is not part of language. It is written as a symbol; hence the same symbol is used in Sanskrit, in Pali, in Prakrit, in Tibetan – everywhere the same symbol, because all the mystics of all the ages have reached to the same experience, that it is not part of our mundane world; hence it should not be written in letters. It should have its own symbol which is beyond language. It does not mean anything as far as mind is concerned, but it means tremendously much as far as your spiritual growth is concerned.
All music, particularly the classical music, has been trying to catch the sound of silence so that even people who have not entered into their beings can experience something similar. But the similar is not the same, it is a very faraway echo. Even the greatest musician has to use sounds, but howsoever beautifully he arranges them, he cannot be absolutely silent. He gives gaps of silence in between; the whole play is between sound and silence. Those who don’t understand hear the sounds, and those who understand hear the silence, the gaps between two sounds.
The real music is in the gaps.
It is not created by the musician – the musician is creating the sounds and leaving the gaps as a contrast, so that you can experience something of what happens to the mystic in his inner world.
OM is one of the great achievements of the seekers of truth. There have been cases which are absolutely unbelievable, but they are historical….
When Marpa, a Tibetan mystic, died, his closest disciples were sitting all around him…because the death of a mystic is as tremendously valuable as his life, perhaps more. If you can be close to the mystic when he is dying, you can experience many things, because his whole consciousness is leaving the body – and if you are alert and conscious, you can feel a new fragrance; you can see a new light, you can hear a new music.
When Marpa died he was living in a temple. And all his disciples became suddenly surprised – they looked all around – from where is the sound of OM coming? Then finally they realized that it was not coming from anywhere – it was coming from Marpa! They heard it by putting their ears to his feet, to his hands, and they could not believe it – inside his whole body there was a vibration creating the sound of OM. He had been hearing that sound for his whole life since he became enlightened. Because of his constant inner experience of the sound, the sound had entered even into his physical cells. Every fiber of his body had learned a certain synchronicity, the same wavelength.
But it has been experienced with other mystics also. The inner starts radiating, particularly at the moment of death when everything comes to a crescendo. But man is so blind and so utterly unintelligent: knowing that the mystics experience the music of silence within them and they name it OM, people started repeating OM as a mantra, thinking that by repeating it they will also be able to hear it.
By repeating it you will never be able to hear it. Your mind is functioning when you are repeating it. But perhaps I am the first person to tell it to you; otherwise for centuries people have been teaching: Repeat OM. That creates a false experience, and you can be lost in the false and you will never discover the real.
I say to you not to repeat it but simply be silent and listen to it. As your mind becomes calm and quiet, suddenly you will become aware: like a whisper, the OM is arising within your being. When it arises on its own, it has a totally different quality. It transforms you.
Modern physics says that everything in the world is constituted of electrical energy. According to modern physics even sounds are nothing but electric waves. The physicists have been working from the outside.
The mystics say just the opposite, but I don’t see that they are contradictory. They say the whole existence is made up of the soundless sound OM. And even electricity or fire are nothing but a certain condensed form of the sound.
In the East it has been known: there have been musicians who could create by their music a flame on an unlit candle. As the music falls over the unlit candle suddenly the flame arises. It was a test in the ancient days, that unless a musician could create light, fire, flame, with his music he was still amateur. He was not recognized as a master.
The explanations of physics and the mystics look different, but perhaps there is some deeper source which can withdraw the contradiction and opposition. Perhaps it is only a different interpretation, because the mystic is coming from the inside and the physicist is looking at the outside. What the physicist feels as electricity, the mystic feels as the music of the whole existence. They are both saying the same thing in different languages. And if there is a choice, I would choose the mystic, because he is experiencing it in his very center. His experience is not just an experiment on objects, his experience is an experiment on his own consciousness. And consciousness is the very cream of existence.
This mantra has many secrets in it. The first wordless word is OM, and the last is HUM. The first is the flowering and the last is the seed.
The Sufis don’t use the whole name of Allah – that is the Mohammedan name for God. They use allah hoo, and slowly, slowly they change allah hoo into simply hoo, hoo. They have found that the sound of hoo strikes exactly at the life source just below the navel. You were connected with your life, with your mother, from the navel. Just below the navel is the source of your own life.
Just try: when you say hoo the hit is below the navel. That’s what we are using in our Dynamic Meditation. It is a Sufi discovery, but it can also be done in the Tibetan way. Rather than hoo – hoo seems to be a little harsh – hum seems to be a little softer. But the softer will take a longer time to wake up your energies. It is possible that in the particular climate of Tibet, the softer was perfectly good. They did not need such a harsh sound in order to hit the life source. But in the harsh desert of Arabia where Sufi mystics started using hoo….
I had a choice when I was working on the Dynamic Meditation, whether to use hum or to choose hoo. I tried both and I found that perhaps in India, hoo is better than in the colder heights of Tibet where things are bound to be different. Just hum is perfectly right for them.
Hum is the hit to create OM in you.
If you hit the seed of your life it starts disappearing in the soil and green leaves, sprouts start growing. Between the two – OM and hum – is mani padme. I don’t think anybody has been able to express the ultimate experience, the ultimate beatitude, better than mani padme. You have to visualize it. The lotus flower in the East is the most beautiful, the biggest flower. And if you put diamonds on the lotus flower in the early morning sun, you will have a tremendously beautiful experience… the lotus flower with diamonds.
It is very difficult to say anything about the ultimate experience, but Tibetan mystics have tried the best. Many things have been said about it, but “diamond in the lotus” seems to be the best expression – because it is the greatest, most beautiful experience, and they have chosen two of the most beautiful things of the ordinary world, the lotus and the diamond. It is just a visual expression of the beauty that you come to see within yourself.
This mantra om mani padme hum has a whole philosophy within it. Start with hum, the last word, and the first will arise on its own accord. And when your inner being is filled with the sound of silence, you will also have the beautiful experience of seeing a lotus with a diamond in the early morning sun. The diamond is radiating. The lotus is so soft, so feminine, so delicate – it has no comparison in any other flower.
It became so important to the mystics… you must have seen Gautam Buddha’s statues sitting on a lotus. They are showing symbolically that he has reached the ultimate; his own inner lotus has flowered. And not only the lotus has flowered, the diamond hidden behind it, inside it… as it opens its petals, you find a Kohinoor. The diamond has a quality – that’s why it has been chosen. It is symbolic of eternity. The diamond is for ever, it knows no death; it is immortal. The experience is beautiful and eternal.
But unfortunately, Tibet has fallen into a darkness. Its monasteries have been closed, its seekers of truth have been forced to work in labor camps. The only country in the world which was working – a one-pointed genius, all its intelligence in the search for one’s own interiority and its treasures – has been stopped by the communist invasion of Tibet.
And it is such an ugly world that nobody has objected to it. On the contrary, because China is big and powerful, even countries which are more powerful than China can ever be, like America, have accepted that Tibet belongs to China. That is sheer nonsense – just because China is powerful and everybody wants China to be on their side. Neither the Soviets nor America have challenged the claim of China. Leave America and the Soviets aside – even India has not objected. It was such a beautiful experiment, and Tibet had no weapons to fight with, they had no army to fight; they had never thought about it. Their whole thing was an introverted pilgrimage.
Nowhere has such concentrated effort been made to discover man’s being. Every family in Tibet used to give their eldest son to some monastery where he was to meditate and grow closer to awakening. It was a joy to every family that at least one of them was wholeheartedly, twenty-four hours a day, working on the inner being. They were also working but they could not give all their time; they had to create food and clothes and shelter, and in Tibet it is a difficult matter. The climate is not very helpful; to live in Tibet is a tremendous struggle. But still every family used to give their first-born child to the monastery.
There were hundreds of monasteries… and these monasteries should not be compared with any Catholic monasteries. These monasteries had no comparison in the whole world. These monasteries were concerned with only one thing: to make you aware of yourself.
Thousands of devices have been created down the centuries so that your lotus can blossom and you can find your ultimate treasure, the diamond. These are just symbolic words, but the destruction of Tibet should be known in history, particularly when man becomes a little more aware and humanity a little more humane….
This is the greatest calamity of the twentieth century that Tibet has fallen into the hands of materialists who don’t believe that you have anything inside you. They believe that you are only matter and your consciousness is only a by-product of matter. And all this is simply without any experience of the inner – just logical, rational philosophizing.
Not a single communist in the world has meditated, but it is strange – they all deny the inner. Nobody thinks about how the outer can exist if there is no inner. They exist together, they are inseparable. The outer is only a protection for the inner, because the inner is very delicate and soft. But the outer is accepted and the inner is denied. And even if sometimes it is accepted, the world is dominated by such dirty politicians that they use even the inner experiences for ugly ends.
Just the other day, I came to know that America is now training its soldiers in meditation so that they can fight without any nervous breakdown, without going mad, without feeling any fear – so they can lie down in their ditches silently, calm and cool and collected. No meditator may have ever thought that meditation can also be used for fighting wars, but in the hands of politicians everything becomes ugly – even meditation. Now the army camps in America are teaching meditation so that their soldiers can be more calm and quiet while killing people.
But I want to warn America: you are playing with fire. You don’t understand exactly what meditation will do. Your soldiers will become so calm and quiet that they will throw away their weapons and they will simply refuse to kill. A meditator cannot kill; a meditator cannot be destructive. So they are going to be surprised one day that their soldiers are no longer interested in fighting. War, violence, murder, massacre of millions of people – this is not possible if a man knows something of meditation. Then he also knows not only himself, he knows the other whom he is killing. He is his brother. They all belong to the same oceanic existence.
In the Soviet Union, also, they are interested in meditation. But the purpose is the same – not realization of yourself, but making you stronger so that you can kill and bomb and use nuclear weapons and missiles to kill whole nations.
But they are both going on a dangerous path, unknowingly. It is good, they should be helped. Once meditation spreads among their soldiers, those soldiers will become sannyasins! So I am immensely happy that their idea is different, and they don’t know anything about meditation. They have only heard that it makes people calm and cool so they can fight without any fear, without looking back. Meditation gives them a feeling of immortality; hence their fear will disappear.
But meditation not only gives them the experience of their own immortality – it also gives them the experience that everybody is immortal. Death is a fiction. Why unnecessarily harass people? They will be living, you cannot kill them. Not even your nuclear weapons are going to kill them.
Krishna, in the Gita, has a beautiful statement: Nainam chhindanti shastrani; naham dahati pavakahr. “Neither can any weapon destroy me nor can any fire burn me.” Yes the body will be burned, but I am not the body….
Meditation gives you the feel, for the first time, of your authentic reality.
If humanity were a little more aware, Tibet should be made free because it is the only country which has devoted almost two thousand years to doing nothing but going deeper into meditation. And it can teach the whole world something which is immensely needed.
But Communist China is trying to destroy everything that has been created in two thousand years. All their devices, all their methods of meditation, their whole spiritual climate is being polluted, poisoned. And they are simple people; they cannot defend themselves. They don’t have anything to defend themselves with – no tanks, no bombs, no airplanes, no army. An innocent race which has lived without any war for two thousand years… It disturbs nobody; it is so far away from everybody – even to reach there is a difficult task. They live on the very roof of the world. The highest mountains, eternal snows, are their home. Leave them alone! China will not lose anything, but the whole world will be benefited by their experience.
And the world will need their experience. The world is getting fed up with money, power, prestige, all that scientific technology has created – people are getting fed up. They are finished with it. People in the advanced countries are no longer interested in sex, are no longer interested in drugs. Things are falling away, and a strange despair like a dark cloud is descending on the advanced countries – of deep frustration, meaninglessness, and anguish. They will all need a different climate of meditation to dispel all these clouds and bring again a new day into their lives, a new dawn, a new experience of themselves, a discovery of their original being.
Tibet should be left as an experimental lab for man’s inner search. But not a single nation in the world has raised its voice against this ugly attack on Tibet. And China has not only attacked it, they have amalgamated it into their map. Now, on the modern Chinese map, Tibet is their territory.
And we think the world is civilized, where innocent people who are not doing any harm to anybody are simply destroyed. And with them, something of great importance to all humanity is also destroyed. If there were something civilized in man, every nation would have stood against the invasion of Tibet by China. It is the invasion of matter against consciousness; it is the invasion of materialism against spiritual heights.
The word mantra is untranslatable in English, in any Western language, but its meaning, its significance, can be explained to you. A mantra is not just something to chant. It is not chanting. A mantra is something to let sink deep in your being, just as roots go deep into the earth. The deeper the roots go into the earth, the higher the tree will go into the sky. A mantra is something like a seed to be allowed to go deep into your being so that it can send its roots to the sources of your life and finally to the universal life. Then its branches, its foliage will go high into the sky, and when the right time comes, when the spring comes, it will be filled with thousands of flowers.
Unless a tree blossoms, it knows no blissfulness. It goes on feeling something is missing. You may have all the pleasures and comforts and luxuries of the world, but unless you know yourself, unless your inner lotus opens, you will go on missing something. You may not be certain what you are missing but a feeling… that something is being missed, that “I am not complete,” that “I am not whole,” that “I am not what existence wanted me to be.” This “missing” feeling goes on nagging everybody. Only the expansion of your consciousness will help you to get rid of this feeling, of this nagging, of this anguish, this angst.
Even people like Jaspers, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Marcel, Jean-Paul Sartre, the highest geniuses of the West, are agreed on a few things: that life is nothing but boredom, that life is nothing but anxiety, anguish, that life is accidental, it has no significance… that it is absolutely futile to search for any blissful space; there exists none. And when great philosophers like these agree on such points, the ordinary masses simply follow them.
Whatever they are saying is absolutely wrong, because none of them has ever meditated, none of them has entered into his own subjectivity. They are just in their heads. They have not even moved to their hearts, what to say about their beings? What to say about their disappearing into the universal?
Unless you disappear into the universal ocean just like a dewdrop, you will not find significance. You will not find your real dignity. You will not find that existence showers so much joy and so much celebration on you that you cannot contain it; you have to share it. You become a raincloud which is so much burdened with rain that it has to shower. A man of deep insight, a man of intuition, a man who has reached to his being becomes a raincloud. He is not just a blessing to himself, he becomes a blessing to the whole world.
This Tibetan mantra om mani padme hum is a condensed form of the whole inner pilgrimage. It says how to start, what will happen when the flower opens, what will be your ultimate experience of your inner treasures.
Eastern languages are very rich in the sense that they have made very condensed statements which can be unfolded into big scriptures. The reason was that when these mantras were created there was no writing. People had to remember them. When people have to remember them, you have to be very telegraphic, as condensed as possible. Once writing came into existence, that condensedness disappeared. Now you can explain with page after page of writing. But have you ever thought that when you receive a long letter… the longer the letter, the less is the meaning. But when you receive a telegram, naturally… just eight or ten words, but the meaning is immense and the impact is immense.
These are telegrams. They can easily be remembered, they can be passed from one generation to another generation without any fear that they will be distorted.
You have not to repeat the mantra, you have to understand its meaning and let that meaning sink into you. Sitting silently, be utterly quiet, unmoving. Watch your mind. A few thoughts will be there, but as you become silent those thoughts will disappear, and suddenly you hear a humming sound all around you.
That humming sound is not made by you.
It is at the very center of existence.
It is the sound of the skies.
It is the sound of space.
It is the sound of the universe; it is its indication of aliveness. It is vibrating with dance and music.
This OM is perhaps the greatest symbol in the whole world.
Osho, Om Mani Padme Hum, Ch 1, Q 1