Pith Instructions on Mahamudra from Mahasiddha Tilopa: The Ganges Mahamudra Upadesha
Learning from the Teachers Video 1: Four students ask Zasep Rinpoche meditation questions — resting the mind in a natural way in Mahamudra; foundation practices; being your own Guru, and meditative “realizations.”
Four Questions the Buddha Would NOT Answer and Why: Is the Cosmos Finite in Space?; Is the Universe Finite in Time?; Is the Self Different From Body?; Does the Buddha Exist After Death?
Advice from the Teachers Video 10: Struggling with Visualizing Your Heart Bond Yidam. How to Choose One, How to Improve Clarity and Concentration.
BW Interview with Geshe Thubten Sherab: Skillfully Teaching Traditional Tibetan Buddhism for Western Students
Video Buddhist Advice 9: How Can Advanced Vajrayana Students Simplify and Manage Commitments and Practice? Answered by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Thich Nhat Hanh’s Translation: The Sutra on the Eight Realizations of the Great Beings “Torches That Help Light My Path”
Movie: Walk With Me — Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village on the Big Screen: “Mindfulness is to always arrive in the here and now.”
Inspired by H.E. Garchen Rinpoche, Galgamani Art Project Aims Personalize the Tibetan Prayer Wheel: Interview with Micha Strauss
Prayer Wheels Growing in Popularity; Benefiting Sentient Beings and Practicing Right Livelihood: Interview with Shea Witsett of The Prayer Wheel Shop
Wheel of Dharma: Why Prayer Wheels May be the Ideal Buddhist Practice for Busy People; Benefits to Self and Sentient Beings: What the Teachers Say
This is the Great Happiness: Mangala Sutta, The Sutra on Happiness, the Tathagata’s Teaching
Wealth Deities: Generating Karma for Prosperity by Practicing Generosity
Purifying Negative Karma Advice Video: How to Purify Obstructions and Defilements with Vajrasattva Practice and Other Buddhist Meditations, Answered by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
How a Home Retreat Helps Busy People Manage Time and Save Money; How to Do It, and Why it is Necessary
Buddhist Teacher Advice Video 7: Keeping Motivated in Your Daily Practice, Answered by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
8 Rights: The Noble Eightfold Path — the Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
BW Interview: Theodore Tsaousidis, a Teacher Who Focuses on Healing Practices in Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Meditation and Shamanism
EVENT: Lamrim The Stages on the Path to Enlightenment Lecture Series on Thursdays at Gaden Choling Toronto
Scientific Buddhist: Why Incense is More Than Just a Pleasant Backdrop to Meditation; Research Reveal Brain Health Benefits
Teacher Advice Video 6: What Advice Would You Give to a Student New to Buddhism as Starting Practices? — — Answered by Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
Female Enlightened Manifestations and Female Teachers and Lamas — Wisdom in Action; Reader Poll and Interview with Lama Shannon Young
EVENT: Geshe Thubten Sherab Weekend Teachings March 24-28, 2017 in Greater Toronto Area: Lama Tsongkhapa Meditation Practice and Lamrim
The Science of Mantras: Mantras Work With or Without Faith; Research Supports the Effectiveness of Sanskrit Mantra for Healing — and Even Environmental Transformation
Mama Buddha Tara: Compassionate Action; Stories of Tara the Rescuer
Happy Losar: How to Bring in the Auspiciousness of the Fire Bird and Celebrate the Traditions and Fun of Tibetan New Year of the Rooster. Tashi Delek!
BW Interview: Emma Slade Gave Up a Career in Finance to Become A Buddhist Nun After a Traumatic Incident; She Went On to Author Set Free and to Spearhead Fundraising for Special Needs Children in Bhutan
Happy Dakini Day! An Introduction to the Wisdom of the Female Enlightened Dakinis in Buddhism.
Illness and Cancer Advice: Video, Buddhist Teachers Answer  — — Advice for students with aggressive illnesses such as cancer, supportive practices Medicine Buddha and Black Manjushri (with full Medicine Buddha Sutra)
A Great Teacher Has Passed: The Learned and Inspiring Gelek Rimpoche of Jewel Heart International Passed Away
Karma is Not Fate: Why Karma is Empowering
Scientific Buddhist: Peer Reviewed Studies Demonstrate Buddhist Metta Loving Kindness Meditation Can Slow Aging, Increase Brain Matter, and Decrease PTSD and Schizophrenia —Ten Benefits of Compassion
Video: Students Ask the Buddhist Teacher: What advice would you give for a student who is dealing with the loss of a pet? Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
“Get Away From Her!”: Like Ripley in the movie Aliens, Palden Lhamo, the Terrifying Enlightened Emanation of Tara, Drives Off Your Inner and Outer Demons and Obstacles
Using Mindfulness to Combat Memory Loss, Early Alzheimers or Dementia: Helpful Video Advice from Buddhist Teacher Venerable Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, with the full Satipatthana Sutra
Video: Celebrating 40 Years of Dharma Practice in Remote Tasmania! One of the oldest Dharma centers in the West Commemorates with Retreat, and a Party
Mantra Part 2: Good Vibrations

Mantra Part 2: Good Vibrations

“Of what is the body made?” asked George Leonard in The Silent Pulse. “It is made of emptiness and rhythm.” He went on to describe how science views matter: “We can see the fully crystalline structures of muscle fiber, waving like wheat in the wind, pulsing many trillions of times a second. As we move closer to the nucleus, it begins to dissolve. It too is nothing more than an oscillating field that upon our approach dissolves into pure rhythm.”

Part 1 of our Mantra Series: Healing Mantras, Setting the Mind Free>>

Part 3 of our Mantra Series: There’s a Mantra for That>>

Part 2 of Buddha Weekly’s Special Series on Mantra: Mantras in Buddhist Practice

All matter in the universe, in some theories, are nothing but vibrations. Sounds are vibrations. Mantras are vibrations. Mantras are “made of emptiness and rhythm.” So, it seems is matter.

Mantras can be chanted or realized silently during sitting meditation, alone or in groups.

 

In the beginning

Religious traditions around the world acknowledge the power of sound, whether it be prayer, mantra, the word of Saraswati or the Biblical God, “In the beginning was the Word.” Just as vibrations are theorized by some scientists to be the underlying “structure” of the matter, it seems religions all around the world understood this aeons ago.

Mantra is universal

Mantra practice is often no more than an act of dedication. But at a practical level, mantra goes beyond devotion, and can be used in spiritual growth, healing, even worldly affairs.

 

 

Mantra is not solely a Buddhist or Hindu practice. Most religions have similar practices. Sufi master Vilayat Inayat Khan said, “The practice of mantra actually neads the body with sound. The delicate cells of the elaborate bundles of nerves are subjected to a constant hammering, a seizure of flesh by the vibrations of divine sound.”

What can mantra do?

According to Thomas Ashely-Farrand in his book Healing Mantras: Using Sound affirmations for Personal Power Creativity and Healing, “Mantra can help you feel more peaceful or more energized. It can help you cope with illness and it can sometimes help effect physical healing. It an help you bring your wishes to fruition and create reality from your dreams. Mantra is a dynamic, individual, nonviolent way to approach conditions you wish to change.”

A wonderful resource for mantras is the popular site Visible Mantra (http://visiblemantra.com). Mantras are normally in the mother tongue of Sanskrit, root language of most modern languages, and can be written in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Siddham script and other scripts including transliterated English.

 

How does mantra work?

Mantra is effective. Mantra practice “works.” The question is “how does mantra work?” There are many ways mantra works, according to various experts:
• the effect of sound vibrations on matter, made predictable by centuries of spiritual experimentation
• the inherent spiritual meaning of the mantra that conditions the mind
• mantras connect us to the compassion of a Buddha or enlightened being
• mantras connect us to our Buddha within
• mantas induce mindfulness
• mantras have inherent power (the supernatural meaning) — not entirely to be discounted easily, based on plenty of anecdotal evidence
• centuries or thousands of years of practice and millions of practicers have created “collective consciousness” equity (a far fetched theory that never-the-less has been demonstrated in Rupert Sheldrake’s theories and several credible studies on remote learning)
• mantras induce an altered state of mind, helpful for healing and stress reduction.
• and a long list of more esoteric reasons.

In short, after thousands of years of practice, and a heavy weight of anecdotal evidence, mantras work at one level or the other. And, for those of use who are practicing mantra out of simple devotion, none of this matters. Tradition, heritage and a “feeling of rightness” and dedication to the sacred just makes it part of practice.

Below: Play the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra, here chanted by monks to a musical repeating phrase to get the sense of power. Close your eyes and chant along.

 

Om Mani Padme Hum

Arguably, Om Mani Padme Hum (Om Mani Peme Hung in Tibetan), the mantra of Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin in Chinese Buddhism), is the best known Buddhist mantra. Around the world, millions chant this precious mantra, seeking to connect with the Bodhisattva of compassion. Does the mantra mean anything? There is an English translation, but the meaning is not immediately relevant. Mani means “jewel” and padme translates as “lotus,” so it can be translated as “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus.” But the true power of this jewel of mantras lies in its hidden meanings, upon which many sages have expounded. And the hidden cadence of “emptiness and rhythm.”

A Prayer Wheel with thousands of Om Mani Padme Hum mantras printed inside, is a powerful way of empowering mantras in Buddhist Practice, sending out the benefits and vibrations of the sacred compassion mantra to all beings as it is spun in one hand.

 

Chanting Om Mani Padme Hum can bring us closer to compassion and helps us find the Bodhisattva.

Mantra practice principles

These practice principles are my own and teachers may ask you to practice differently. This is just what has worked for me:
1. Purpose of mantra recitation
Whether the mantra chanting is for devotion, spiritual progress, mindfulness meditation or to help with worldly issues (such as healing), it is a good practice to have a goal in mind at the beginning of a practice session.
2. Repetition of mantra
Many paths or teachers will specify the number of repetitions. This isn’t a formula necessarily, so much as a discipline. Generally, 108 is the minimum number of repetitions per practice session, although most practices call for much more than this. 108 repetitions corresponds to the 108 delusions that afflict life. There are six varieties of delusions: delusions of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. Each of these is multiplied by three — past, present, future — then by the two conditions of the heart, pure and impure, and the three sentiments (like, dislike, indifference.) When multiplied, this results in 108, long held by many religious traditions (Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic and others) to be significant.
3. Daily practice
Daily practice is the best approach to mantra, but often mantra can be accomplished faster in a full retreat. There will normally be a “formula” or number or repetitions, recommended by a teacher, your inner guide, or a tradition, but ultimately, more is better with mantra.
4. Place of practice
Mantra is about sound vibrations, which transcend place, but it is often helpful to practice in quiet, meditative environments, such as before your shrine, in a temple, or out doors in nature. Ultimately, though, mantra can calm the mind in any scenario. Often, people in distress chant mantras to great effect in the midst of storms, wars or disasters. A quiet space is not a requirement, only a help.
5. Chant with sincerity
Mumbling through a mantra is not a practice. It’s mumbling. Remain mindful of the mantra, and practice meditation techniques (such as detached watching, mindfulness, etc). But put your full mindful commitment to the practice. It’s not a ritual, it’s a practice that can change your life.


To Mala or not to Mala

Mala’s are an aid to counting at a very basic level. Also known as rosary, worry beads or prayer beads, malas are not simply a “counter.” Most traditions consider malls to be a Dharma object, therefore due the respect of an ancient spiritual tool that has been used for centuries. Malas can be made of anything, and value is irrelevant. You can make them yourself or buy them. But once you begin using a mala, if you do, treat them with great respect. Use of a mala can strongly reinforce mantra practice, but is not necessary. Part 4 in this series is all about malls.

Seed Mantras

Part 3 of this series will list the more popular Buddhist mantras. A good foundation mantra for any practice can just involve one of the seed syllables. Most Buddhas have seed syllables, which help you connect.

Or you can begin working with the “primal” purification mantra Om Ah Hum (Om A Hum.) Often Om Ah Hum precedes other mantras in a practice session, with 108 or more recitations of Om Ah Hum followed by the other mantras. There are different ways to think of Om Ah Hum, such as the traditional Body, Speech and Mind. Or as the primal vibrations—Om as primal source vibration, Ah as primal speech vibration (and also the female aspect) and Hum as the mind vibration..

Lama Thubten Yeshe teaches the purification mantra this way: Purification of Body —”Concentrate on the white OM in your brain. Recognize that this white OM is the pure energy of the divine body of the buddhas and bodhisattvas.”Purification of Speech — “Concentrate on the red AH at your throat chakra, like the sun at sunset. Recognize that this red AH is the pure speech of the buddhas and bodhisattvas.”Purification of Mind — ” Your heart is pure, cool and calm, opened by the radiant light of the moon and the HUM. Infinite blue light radiates from the HUM. All narrow thoughts disappear; all indecisive minds disappear; all obsessed minds disappear.”

Leave a reply

Are you a Sentient Being? *

Copyright Buddha Weekly 2007-2017. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to excerpt stories with full credit and a link to Budddha Weekly. Please do not use more than an excerpt. Subject to terms of use and privacy statement. All information on this site, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote  understanding and knowledge. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, including medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Buddha Weekly does not recommend or endorse any information that may be mentioned on this website. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is solely at your own risk.