This post is brought to you by Emma. Listen to her recording of the song below, and read on about her personal connection to this particular mantra.
In university I was deeply interested in Tibetan Buddhism. I began to study with a Buddhist nun at the Kitchener Public Library every week. In my third year of university I was fortunate enough to participate in a study-abroad program at a spiritual community in Northern Scotland. Right across the road from the wind turbines, green roofs and colourful gardens of the Findhorn Foundation community, was the Shambhala Retreat Centre, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation centre. Every morning I rose early and walked down the gravel path to attend meditation in the colourful meditation hall. It was at the Shambhala Retreat Centre that I learned the Om Mani Padme Hum chant, and connected it to my meditation practice.
Om Mani Padme Hum is connected to the revered boddhisattva named Avalokiteshvara. Avalokiteshvara appears differently in the many forms of Buddhism but in general is understood to embody the compassion of all of the Buddhas. The Avalokiteshvara that I encountered in my study of Tibetan Buddhism had one thousand arms to help him in his determination to bring all sentient beings to enlightenment. This is one of the definitions of a boddhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism: a being who has touched/experienced enlightenment and then from the experience of enlightenment, commits to bringing all beings to this experience of enlightenment (or, out of suffering).
I’ve heard/read that Om Mani Padme Hum is said to contain all the teachings of the Buddha, and so cannot be translated into a simple phrase. I’ve also seen it translated as the simple phrase “The Jewel is in the Lotus”: the jewel referring to deep wisdom, and the lotus referring to the core of one’s heart. My personal interpretation of this chant (which is not that of an academic or a serious Buddhist practitioner) is to see it as a reminder to keep developing trust of myself, and my own internal compass, and to learn to act and live from that awareness.
Click here to download Emma’s version of “Om Mani Padme Hum”.
Emma Dines is the manager of Queen Street Yoga. She loves writing, visiting thrift stores and going for walks in the woods. She also loves cartwheeling, sewing and making her own kimchi.