Om Mani Padme Hum

Interpretation and meaning.

I  sing this chant during classes and am often asked about it's origins and meaning.

It come from the Buddhism tradition and Tibetans,  typically pronounce the mantra as “Om mani peme hung.” 


The most common meaning offered for the mantra is usually something like “Behold. The jewel in the lotus.” or “Praise to the jewel in the lotus.”

But it is almost impossible to give one exact meaning for “om mani padme hum,” since it has been interpreted in many ways. 

Also, we might say that its meaning as a spiritual sound goes beyond the literal meaning of its syllables.



Below, you can see His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s interpretations.


From His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Dalai Lam and Wikipedia3

It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast …. The first, OM … symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…. The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the … altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassionate and loving…. The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom…. Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility…. Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha….


From Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones,  ISBN 0-87773-493-3

The mantra Om Mani Päme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching.

When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.

So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?


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