Pratiksha writes about the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.
Enlightened awareness is best explained in Tibetan spiritual texts through just one mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum. Literally, it means the ‘sound of silence, the diamond in the lotus’. Tibetan scriptures often discuss the music of silence. Tibetan seekers are hinting at the sound that’s beyond our senses.
Om Mani Padme Hum
is the flowering of wisdom
and an invoking
of the sound of silence
for inner exploration.
Although there is no writing form for Om or Aum, the sound is considered a state, a moment where you do not need texts and sound but just the silence, the ultimate state of spiritual being. Interestingly, it is the state in which everything else disappears, including all elements of your surroundings and thoughts. Various streams of eastern philosophy agree that sound, which is heard at the highest peak of silence, is similar to that of Aum. Although it doesn’t have any fixed alphabets, it has been depicted by the symbol, perhaps because sages experienced it and did not feel the need for words or letters.
Pure Inner Silence
What is required is pure inner silence, complete harmony and bliss. You don’t need to recite it. All you need is a sea of calm inside and a moment will come when everything, all your surroundings, will become silent and you will constantly hear the mantra, although you are not saying it and nobody around you is chanting it. That very moment, you will enter the door that leads to an inner journey. Om Mani Padme Hum does not require correct pronunciation, but, just your readiness for inner exploration.
In Tibet, a monk lived in a small monastery on top of the Kham hill, Dzado County. Seekers had to cross the Mekong River to reach the monastery where the ageing monk would give sermons. Once a learned man, conducting research on monasteries and Tibetan scriptures, went to interview the monk. He was asked to wait outside the monk’s room since he was in prayer, reciting the mantra. The researcher was shocked because he heard that monk mispronouncing it. When the prayer was over and both sat face-to-face over a cup of tea to discuss Tibetan scriptures, the researcher couldn’t control himself and asking the monk for forgiveness said, “I just wanted to correct your (mis)pronunciation of Om Mani Padme Hum.”
The monk said, “You are a learned man and I never went to school. I must be wrong. But can you please tell me the right way of chanting it? I’m feeling bad because all these 60-odd years, I’m chanting it the wrong way. Let me learn so that I get it right.”
The researcher taught him the right way of chanting. The monk repeated it several times and smiled. After the interview was over and the researcher was coming down to catch a boat, he was amazed that the ‘famous monk’ didn’t even know the right way to chant the most important mantra. He sat in the boat deep in thought. Suddenly, his thought was broken by the monk who was running on the river, barefoot, waving to the researcher, saying, “I’m sorry to trouble you, I forgot the technique you told me. This time I will write it down. Please help, because I don’t want to be wrong now.”
The researcher was startled. He saw the monk walking on water! He bowed his head saying, “Master, the mistake was mine, not yours. There is no technique and no correct pronunciation. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”
Way To Chant
So, it is obvious that the mantra is not about how you chant it. One should let the mantra sink deep into one’s being, just like the root of a tree is deep in the earth — for that ultimate cosmic experience.
When Master Marpa left his body, all his disciples were sitting around his bed. There was silence in the room except for the sound of Aum. The disciples were shocked. The master was gone and all were sitting silently. They tried to find out the source of the mantra sound. They realised it was coming from Marpa’s feet. Another disciple put his head on his hand and heard the same sound. Soon they realised that Marpa’s whole body was vibrating Aum. The mantra was so deep in the master that his cells were reverberating with the sound of Aum.
Om Mani Padme Hum is the mantra through which transformation of existence is possible. It is the sound through which body and mind can turn into Buddha. Aum symbolises ultimate purity of an enlightened soul and Mani is the jewel, the diamond hidden inside your being. Padme is indicative of the lotus, a symbol of wisdom. Hum is the sound of indivisibility, suggesting that path and wisdom can’t be divided. Om Mani Padme Hum is the flowering of wisdom and an invoking of the sound of silence that roots for inner exploration.
Article previously published in The Speaking Tree
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