At the time of reciting:
Neither too fast nor too slow,
Neither too loud nor too soft.
It should be neither speaking
This most ancient and venerable Sanskrit mantra is especially important in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It is associated with the Buddha of Compassion and includes the meaning "jewel in the lotus." A rough translation might be, "My heart is the jewel in the lotus," or "Hail to the jewel in the lotus." The jewel is equated with the enlightenment-mind, which arises in the lotus of human consciousness. The symbolism is deep and beautiful far beyond our ability to describe it here, nor do we claim any great understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, but perhaps we can begin to explore this powerful mantra in the spirit of "Beginners Mind."
Say this mantra to yourself, either aloud or silently--OM MANE PADME HUM--(AH-OWM MAH-NAY PAHD-MAY HOOM) Let the sound, or the mental representation of the sound, fill your mind and body. Let the vibrations surround you and infuse your body.
Make your repetition of the mantra neither too fast nor too slow, neither too loud nor too soft, but continue to repeat it as you visualize its meaning.
Allow yourself to soak in the beauty of this mantra knowing that these syllables have been chanted innumerable times in the spirit of compassion by innumerable beings of great wisdom and compassion. As you express the chant, your vibration merges with the vibration of the chants of all those beings still echoing through the universe.
PADME means lotus. In the area of your heart, visualize the beautiful many petalled lotus flower. This glorious water lily is rooted in the mud of the earth, but its flower is exposed to the pure light of consciousness. See it blooming in the center of your chest radiant and pure, untouched by any defilement. The lotus represents compassion. Revel in the presence of compassion in your heart.
With the sound MANE think of a jewel in the center of the lotus. This jewel is the pure crystal of enlightened consciousness. It is many faceted and perfect. Its brillance illuminates the lotus and shines forth from your heart. As you recite the mantra hold these images in your mind. Allow them to become real for you. Realize that he beauty of a jewel in a lotus is the beauty of your consciousness when it resides in compassion. Let your capacity for consciousness arouse your compassion. Let your compassion draw you to greater consciousness.
May all being be free from suffering.
May all beings realize enlightenment.
References: The Shambala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, Shambala, Boston, 1991.
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche, HarperSanFrancisco, New York, 1994.
© 2002 Tom Barrett