Chenrezig and His Mantra: Om Mane Padme Hum

Chenrezig: An introduction

This form of Chenrezig is a bodhisattva who looks with unwavering eyes. He is the embodiment of all the buddhas' infinite compassion.
He is white in color. His first two hands are pressed together at his heart. This indicates his vow to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to protect all sentient beings from suffering. The hands hold a wish-fulfilling jewel, which symbolizes his compassionate Bodhichitta.4 armed Avalokiteshvara
His other right-hand holds a crystal rosary symbolizing his ability to liberate beings from Samsara.
It also reminds us to recite the six-syllable Chenrezig mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM which is further explained below in this article.
Click to view original Chenrezig Thangka
The stem of a blue Utpala flower in his left hand symbolizes his stainless and compassionate Bodhichitta motivation. The Utpala in full bloom together with two buds represents the three times. His compassionate wisdom encompasses past, present, and future.
 
The skin of a wild deer is draped over his left shoulder. This represents his compassionate and kind nature.  He is also capable of subduing the untamed delusions. 

A traditional commentary on the Deer Skin of Chenrezig:

This deer lives in mountains between snows and rocks. It has enormous physical strength. At this same time, he is extremely compassionate too.
 
One day, the hunters entered its territory and pretended to fight among themselves with swords. Upon seeing this, the deer becomes impatient. He then with compassion, emerges to mediate between them. This provided the hunters, the opportunity to kill the deer. But merely touching its skin with one's feet calmed the mind and endowed it with bliss. 

Significance of the Deer skin in spiritual practice

The deer skin also serves as a reminder to develop strong and stable concentration. This is a significant aspect of meditation. Ancient Indian traditions recommend that meditators sit on deer skins to insulate themselves from disruptive, earth-transmitted energies. This tradition is still followed to date.
Successful meditation requires the ability to control and direct mental and physical energies. This is a difficult aspect as we are continually distracted by external forces.
The full cross-legged position together with the other aspects of meditation helps to center our energies. We cannot benefit others if we ourselves are distracted by the shifting Worldly energies.

4 armed Chenrezig:

Chenrezig is dressed in the silken robes, to depict the Indian royal look.
He wears the eight bodhisattva ornaments, that includes
  • A Five-jeweled crown
  • Earrings
  • A short necklace
  • A belt
  • Bracelets
  • Anklets
  • A long necklace that reaches below the navel 
  • A shorter necklace that reaches to the breast
They symbolize his mastery of the perfections of generosity and morality. As a prince, he wears his black hair long, upper half knotted high on his head, and the rest flowing down to his shoulders. The five jeweled crown represents the five buddha families. He is seated within a transparent aura in a peaceful scene of hills and lakes.
He gazes upon the beings with heartfelt compassion. He wishes that they are separated from all kinds of mental and physical sufferings.
The Thousand Armed Chenrezig, also known as Avalokiteshvara.
Click here to read more about this form of Chenrezig:1000 armed Avalokiteshvara

Click to view Chenrezig thangka prints

This form is widely loved by Tibetans. Along with a jewel, rosary, and lotus, he is holding a vase, a bow, and a wheel. The rest of the hands makes the mudra of bestowing realizations.
 
He remains the patron deity of Tibet. Tibetans claim the descent from Chenrezig, in the form of a monkey, have sired the original inhabitants of Tibet.
 
He has appeared in many forms to propagate and defend Buddhist teachings.
 
He has been identified with the first of Tibet's great religious kings: Songtsen Gampo, Guru Rinpoche, Atisha's renowned disciple Dromtonpa and His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa, the head of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
 
Through the lineage of Dalai Lama, Avalokiteshvara's compassionate influence has poured into Tibet. The widespread activities of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, have radiated their influence far beyond Tibet. Tibetans recite the following four-line prayer regularly as long-life prayer.
 
In the heavenly realm of the snowy mountains,
The source of all happiness and help for beings
Is Tenzin Gyatso: Avalokiteshvara in person.
May his life be secure for hundreds of eons.

The Chenrezig Mantra:

Each syllable of his mantra OM MANE PADME HUNG is directed towards a specific realm.
  • OM     White        Gods
  • MA      Green       Demigods
  • NI        Yellow      Humans
  • PAD     Blue         Animals
  • ME       Red         Pretas
  • HUM    Black       Hell-beings
  • When we recite the mantra, we visualize the colored light radiating towards all beings in each realm. These lights pacify our particular suffering and guide us to the path to liberation.
    Mantras work on several different levels. On the most basic vibrational level, they derive their power from their very sound.
    The deep experiences of these words of mantras are filled with enlightening inspiration and blessings. Reciting OM MANI PADME HUM with strong faith is effective in countering the negative forces. These forces drag us down into the recurring miseries of the six samsaric realms.
     
    Mantra is also effective in various ways. All of the 84,000 teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha can be explained in terms of these six syllables, OM MANE PADME HUM.Om Mani Padme Hung
    Among many, here is one way to understand its meaning:

    Meaning of Om Mane Padme Hum

    The syllable OM appears at the opening of all mantras. It is composed of three elements in Sanskrit and stands for the three doors of our present body, speech, and mind.
     
    MANI means "jewel" and stands for an enlightened being's compassionate method. Compassion fulfills the desire of all beings to be separated from suffering.
     
    PADME comes from "The Padma" which means lotus. It symbolizes the wisdom of ultimate reality. A lotus is unstained by the mud out of which it grows. Similarly, wisdom is unstained by all hindering conceptions of inherent self-existence.
     
    Finally, the syllable HUM is made up of five elements representing the five Buddha families. Our ordinary mental and physical constituents are transformed when full enlightenment is achieved.

    Through the blessings of Chenrezig and the practice of method and wisdom, we transform our body, speech, and mind. We meet the full enlightenment of the five buddha families.

    The Blessings of Om Mani Padme Hum

    Om Mane Padme Hung can be regarded as an unfathomable form of compassion. This powerful mantra is very much heard of in the world though few seem to chant it with full devotion and connection with the words.

    According to Buddhist texts, Om Mani Padme Hung which sometimes people also write as Om Mani Peme Hung carries a myriad of meanings which ultimately totals to compassion indeed.

    According to the book 'Buddhist Fasting Practice' by Wangchen Rinpoche, Om Mane Padme Hung is related to Chenrezig. Several antidotes and stories of Chenrezig, who is also called Avalokiteshvara by different religious practitioners and believers, are popular in the world. Basically, he is an embodiment of compassion.

    The book says the letter Om equals to all the Buddha's body. This means the sound Om alone stands for the total essence of all the Buddhas of all the eras – past, present, and future. Whenever one pronounces the supreme word Om, it is regarded as a prayer to each and every Buddha. Additionally, one is also connecting to latent Buddha within oneself. This is just amazing. Because this reminds one of the possibilities of fanning the Buddha within and feeling liberated from the vices of the world.

    Even in Hinduism, the word Om is regarded as the supreme sound. The world alone is said to carry the essence of the entire universe. Many texts describe the word as the savior no matter in which condition a person is. They say reciting Om repeatedly takes one to the light from the ignorance and makes the surrounding equally pure. Practitioners are found to chant Om alone for a number of times. Chanting Om for certain number of times is believed to affect oneself and beyond in a certain way. Hindu temples are seen adorned with Om in various forms. The glory of Om is indeed inexpressible.

    Let's come to the meaning and vibration of Mani and Padme. The two sounds, according to the book, enhance the meaning of Om and vice versa. The text says that Mani and Padme actually make Om that powerful within this mantra. While Mani means jewels Padme stands for lotus.

    Bodhichitta is a quite popular word among spiritual seekers. This jewel represented by Mani in this mantra is the same bodhichitta, which means the enlightened heart. It is said that it requires an enlightened heart to respond to people's inner calling or wishes. Just like the outer wishes are fulfilled by different kinds of ornaments, Bodhichitta is said to reach a person's soul and help transform it. It is regarded as the lord of compassion, the lord Chenrezig.

    Similarly, the lotus signifies wisdom. The worldly creatures are always entangled in different affairs. Due to ignorance, they are restless. However, it does not occur to all to look for help in such a situation. But when one humbly asks for a clearer path, the divine beings come for help including the lord Chenrezig.

    According to various Buddhist texts, the will to realize the higher self leads one to the path of spirituality plotting the 'meetings' with the enlightened beings. The mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, even if someone recites without fully comprehending it, is believed to attract similar spiritual vibes making it possible for them to reach the source of knowledge and enlightenment.

    Lotus, which grows and blooms in muddy water, depicts the same reality. Just like a lotus remains in a dirty place and yet looks detached from it, humans are capable of being pure at heart despite being involved in worldly activities. Buddhist and Hindu texts thus place a great value on a lotus.

    When one recites the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hung, it is suggested to internalize the nature of the lotus and save oneself from worldly stresses and miseries.

    The last letter Hum is equally important. Hum holds the qualities of immutabilities and unity. Immutability is the quality of vajra. And this vajra quality of mind demonstrates the union of compassion and emptiness, which is Chenrezig's nature of mind. It further says that the immutable quality of his mind remains so stable that it endlessly takes care of sentient beings. Because a wavering mind cannot help others even if it tries to, the quality of stability or unwavering force is quite remarkable here. 

    "Practically speaking, when we recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM we are showing our faith and devotion to Chenrezig and the buddhas, taking refuge in them, seeking protection for all sentient beings, engendering bodhichitta, purifying negativities, shutting the door to the six realms and so forth

    The six syllabled mantra is so popular that it is recited in dozens of languages of different countries. Nepali, Assamese, Malyayalam, Roman, Sanskrit, Bengali, and many other communities are quite fond of the mantra.

    In Tibetan Buddhism, it is regarded as the most important mantra. It is practiced uniformly by ordinary people to great Buddhist masters. Monasteries and temples are seen reflecting in one or the other way. It is believed that the first known description of the mantra appeared in Karandavyuhastutra. This ancient sutra has claimed it to be the most beneficial mantra for all spiritual seekers. Om Mani Padme Hum can lead one to bliss as well as liberation, according to both the ancient and the modern Buddhist texts.

    Karandavyuhasutra says the mantra is the base or the pith of 'eighty-four thousand dharmas and chanting it repeatedly showers an equal amount of blessings on the one. Because it has to do with the inner heart of the practitioner, the mantra changes one rather swiftly than expected. Many spiritual texts have always claimed that the most difficult thing for a person to do is to change the heart or feel the purity within. Hence, the mantra is considered very precious for the human world. The sutra suggests following certain disciplines while chanting the mantra in order to get highly benefitted. Om Mani Padme Hum, on the other hand, even if is overheard is said to leave a great positive effect on the listeners.

     A popular practice centered upon this figure of universal compassion:
     
    A Noble Avalokiteshvara, a treasure of compassion,
    Together with your retinue, please listen to me.
    May you quickly rescue me and my fathers and mothers,
    the six kinds of beings, from drowning in samsara's ocean.
    I request that we may quickly attain
    The profound and vast Bodhichitta.
    May all our karma and delusion
    Accumulated since beginningless time
    Be purified by the nectar of your compassion.
    With your outstretched hands
    Please lead us to the Blissful Land.
    I request that you and Amitabha
    Become our spiritual masters in all future lifetimes.
    Guide us along the noble and flawless path
    And quickly lead us to Buddhahood.

    1 comment

    namaste.

    alunada October 21, 2021

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