ॐ मणि पद्मे हूँ
Mantras may be interpreted by practitioners in many ways, or even as mere sequences of sound whose effects lie beyond strict semantic meaning.
The middle part of the mantra, maṇipadme, is often interpreted as being in the locative case, “jewel in the lotus,” Sanskrit maṇí “jewel, gem, cintamani” and the locative of padma “lotus”.
The Lotus is a symbol present throughout Indian religion, signifying purity (due to its ability to emerge unstained from the mud) and spiritual fruition (and thus, awakening).
Maṇipadme is preceded by the oṃ syllable and followed by the hūṃ syllable, both interjections without linguistic meaning, but widely known as divine sounds.
First, the nature of a mantra and what it means: In the Buddhist tradition, special words are repeated over and over again until they begin to gather a certain “emptiness”. This is not “emptiness” in the traditional sense where we imagine an experience of nothing…rather it’s experiencing ourselves in the moment without the usual attachment of ego. We become free or ’empty’ of everything but inner awareness. That form of enlightened awareness gives us the intuitive knowledge to save ourselves from suffering.
The 6 Syllables and Their Relationship to Suffering
Interestingly, each of the 6 syllables has certain Sanskrit meanings that are important. These oppose certain internal forces that cause suffering.
- Om (ohm)- Om is the sound or “vibration” of the universe. This sound is the most important of all; but in the context of chanting and mantras, it is meant destroy attachments to ego and establish generosity.
- Ma (mah)- Removes the attachment to jealousy and establishes ethics.
- Ni (nee)- Removes the attachment to desire and establishes patience.
- Pad (pahd)- Removes the attachment to prejudice and establishes perseverance.
- Me (meh)- Removes the attachment to possessiveness and establishes concentration.
- Hum (hum)- Removes the attachment to hatred and establishes wisdom.