Enlightening chant charms meditation

After chanting a non-English mantra for some time, I finally learned its definition and discovered a gem of wisdom while contemplating its meaning. Meditating will never be the same, and I want to share with others a little of the enlightenment it’s provided me.

Om Mani Padme Hung.

It is from India and has been incorporated into the Buddhist practice in Tibet. Some claim the mere vocalizing of the words helps to clear the seven major chakras as each syllable corresponds to a different point within, stretching from the crown to the root chakras.

The meaning is difficult to translate into English. Losang Samten, a lama and spiritual leader of the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia, transcribed two separate versions in a “prayer book” for meditation on compassion. He wrote that “Om” stands for the body, speech, and mind, while “Mani” reflects the jewel; “Padme,” the lotus; and “Hung” (or “Hum”), as the “essence of compassion.”

Some practitioners say this is all one needs to know about the teachings of the Buddha.

Losang further explains that each syllable can be used as an “antidote” against the six imperfections of mankind. Om is the antidote for ignorance; Ma for hatredNi for miserliness; Pad for attachment; Me for jealousy; and Hung for negative pride.

I first heard the sound of “Om” when the Beatles met with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India and learned transcendental meditation in the 1960s. Indian background with om symbol. Vector illustration. - stock vectorOm is supposed to represent the sound of the universe. It is pronounced “Ooom,” as a long or over-long nasalized vowel. According to Ami Ray, the author of the book “Om Chanting and Meditation:

Om is not just a sound or vibration. It is not just a symbol. It is the entire cosmos, whatever we can see, touch, hear and feel. Moreover, it is all that is within our perception and all that is beyond our perception. It is the core of our very existence. . . . It is an eternal song of the divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, says that Om helps us to understand our basic selves. “Om is composed of three letters, A, U, and M.” he said. “These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.” (See this link for the full description.)

Mani symbolizes a jewel that can help transform us. “Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty . . . (or difficulties) 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 Dalai Lama said.

Padme means the lotus, a flower that rises above its base roots, in this case, muddy water, and provides the world with beauty. It represents wisdom, and “it is not sullied by the faults of mud,” according to the Dalai Lama.

Hung or Hum describes the “essence of compassion.” It can manifest in the final process of the chant. Practitioners say it purifies and helps a person focus on others rather than themselves, thereby lifting their own spirits by targeting someone else’s pain and suffering in an effort to console and help those in need.

I tried it.  Just thinking of helping someone else is amazingly uplifting. Try it yourself. It’ll work like a charm!

25 comments on “Enlightening chant charms meditation

  1. This is one of my favorite mantras. The other is “Om Tare, tottare, torae soha.”‘


  2. Arvind Verma says:

    Congratulations and thank you for the post. I love Om Mani Padme Hung mantra. I liked the meaning of the word Om, from the book “Om Chanting and meditation” by Amit Ray.



  3. contoveros says:

    If you place your mouse over and click on the name of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama above, you will hear the chant sung by a choir accompanied by a slide show.
    — mngt


  4. Serafina says:

    It is also the mantra of Quan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. 🙂


    • contoveros says:

      “Kwan Yin is the pre-eminent goddess in all of Asia. You find her in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and other countries. In the Buddhist tradition, she is the Celestial Bodhisattva of Compassion. A bodhisattva is someone who does spiritual practice with the goal of achieving full enlightenment, but just before she arrives at that point, she makes the decision not to receive full enlightenment until the rest of the world has as well. Then she steps into the world and works to alleviate suffering and to awaken beings to their true nature.”

      I gathered the above quote from a site describing some of her many attributes. (See: http://www.orderwhitemoon.org/goddess/KwanYin.html.)

      Beneath one of her several poses is Om Mani Padme Hum, translated as: “Hail to the jewel in the lotus!”

      Thank you, Serafina, for the information.


  5. talesfromthelou says:

    Do you know it’s also the E note? I use it to tune my guitar.


  6. MindMindful says:

    Reblogged this on MindMindful and commented:
    Very interesting commentary on one of the most widely chanted mantras in the world: Om mani padme hum


  7. MindMindful says:

    Very interesting! I’ve never heard the commentary about the syllables of omph being antidotes to the imperfections of humankind. LIKE IT! I always chant this when sitting w/ dying beings …………

    Ta da! I’m awarding you the Top Recent Commenter Award!! Yea YOU:) Here’s the link to my post, where you can read the ‘rules’ & get the badge to display on your blog. Thanks for the comments!! http://wp.me/p1zocx-18n


    • contoveros says:

      Congratulations and thank you for the nomination. Who would have thought when we were in our 20s (just a few years ago, right?) that we would be opening up to perfect strangers on something called a “Blog” where you’d meet some of the most considerate and compassionate people in the universe.

      You planned it this way, didn’t you?

      Keep up the good posts and always stay authentic.

      michael j


  8. rococonnor says:

    I was doing a lovingkindness meditation very recently and was astounded when I heard an ‘om’ sound. I stopped, and realised it was coming from my heart. This post is perfect timing! Thank you.


    • contoveros says:

      Isn’t it great to communicate from the heart? There’s a lot of loving kindness and compassion in that ‘ole ticker of ours if we just listen to its message.

      Thank you, Roco.

      michael j


  9. souldipper says:

    Thank you, Michael J. I appreciate learning this material.

    While this may feel “new age” in light of these teachings, I do enjoy going to this site and joining in: http://www.templeofsacredsound.org/


    • contoveros says:

      I harmonized and really enjoyed this, particularly, the “OM” chant. At first I closed my eyes as I tuned into the chamber’s music, but got an extra lift when I watch the wonderful cascade of colors and shapes.

      Very informative and very relaxing!


  10. saradode says:

    Thank you, Michael–that was…enlightening! 🙂 You just made me remember that the first time I ever heard the chant was on the soundtrack album for the musical “Hair” (I was probably about 8 at the time). It’s good to know, finally, what the words are meant to convey. I don’t chant when I meditate, but maybe I will try them silently, while thinking about what you’ve explained.



    • contoveros says:

      I’ve got to watch the movie “Hair” and listen for the words. We can learn a lot from “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.”

      The chant raises compassion among practitioners who concentrate on — of all things — “emptiness.”

      Great to see Saradode again!


  11. Beechmount says:

    Oom-when the monks chant it- is this not the sound of the infinite ubiverse- the echo of creation, the essence of all things?



    • contoveros says:

      Yes, the chanting of “Oom” is indeed “the sound of the infinite universe.” I wanted to say exactly that, but could not find the words.

      You did, and I thank for your essence!


  12. Viv says:

    When I visited the Samye Ling Tibetan centre in Scotland, it was explained to me that the lotus can only thrive in filthy waters. It transmutes the filth into the beauty(and glorious scent) of the flower.
    Thank you for reminding me of this mantra. I may be muttering this one under my breath at work from now on.
    peace to you, old friend.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.