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A Talk On

Om Mane Padme Hum

by his holiness the Dalai Lama

    It is very good to recite the mantra Om Mane Padme Hum, but why you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and fast. The first, Om is composed of three letters, A, U, and M. They symbolize the practitioners in your body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the fewer exalted body, speech, and mind of Buddha.

    Can impure body, speech, and mind be transformed into pure body, speech, and mind, or are they entirely separate? Although it is our cases of beings who were like ourselves and then independence on the path became enlightened; laser does not assert that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into the pure.

    How is this done? The path as indicated by the next four syllables. Mane, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method -- the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love. Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty or difficulties, of cyclic existence and of solitary peace. Similarly, just as a jewel fulfills the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.

    The two syllables, padme, meaning Lotus, symbolize wisdom, just as a Lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom. There is wisdom or realizing impermanence, wisdom or realizing that persons are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existence, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality -- that is to say, of difference of entity between subject an object -- and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are many types of wisdom, the mane of all these is the wisdom or realizing emptiness.

    Purity must be achieved by an invisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates invisibility. According to the sutra system, this into visibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom. In the mantra or tantric vehicle, in her first to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one undifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the 5 conqueror Buddhas, hum is the seed syllable of Akshobhya -- the movable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.

    Thus the six syllables Om Mane Padme Hum, meaning that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an individual union of method and wisdom, you can transform your into pure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of Buddha. It is said that you should not seek for Buddhahood outside yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within you. As Maitreya says in his sublime continuum of the great vehicle (Uttaratantra), all beings naturally have the Buddha nature in their own continuum. We have within us the seed of purity, the essence of a one gone thus (tathagatagarbha), that is to be transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood.

[Taken from Kindness, Clarity, and Insight, by the 14th Dalai Lama his holiness Tenzin Gyatso, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins, tell edited by Elizabeth Napper. Snow Lion Publications, 1984]


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