Though many of us practice yoga on a daily basis, and feel a connection with Buddhism and its teachings, it’s safe to say we could all learn a little bit more about this ancient religion.
Within yoga practice, many different words and phrases are uttered in Sanskrit, and we aren’t able to understand their meaning during that time.
If you’ve been practicing yoga or meditation for a while, perhaps one common phrase that you’ve come across is ‘om mani padme hum’, which is an incredibly widespread and popular phrase.
If you’ve found yourself what this really translates to in English, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. More and more people are attempting to become more knowledgeable about the ancient texts that drive their practice.
Below, we’ve compiled a handy guide that we hope will help to tell you all there is to know about the phrase ‘om mani padme hum’. We also look at some other popular phrases that are used within practice, and their meaning too.
To find out more, simply keep reading, as we take a closer look.
What Is The Meaning Of Om Mani Padme Hum?
So, why don’t we just jump straight in and answer the question at hand? What is the meaning of Om Padme Hum? Well, this is a tricky question to answer, as it’s not all that straightforward.
If you’ve been attending yoga classes for a while, you’ll probably agree that this is the most commonly spoken phrase within your practice. This is true the world over, and it’s known as being an incredibly powerful set of words.
The trouble is, what it means is still up for debate. If we were to translate this phrase into English, then we would be left with the words, ‘praise to the jewel in the lotus’.
For many of us, this translation isn’t satisfactory, and doesn’t convey what we expected it to. Despite this, the Dalai Lama claims that it’s one of the most powerful phrases in Buddhism, and its meaning is “great and vast”.
The Dalai Lama even said that om padme hum was evocative of all of the great Buddha’s teaching, wrapped into one simple phrase.
Where Does Om Mani Padme Hum Come From?
If we want to delve in deeper, and learn more about this popular phrase, then it’s helpful to look at its origins, and where it really comes from. So, where can we trace the phrase ‘om mani padme hum’ to?
Well, it first makes an appearance in the Mahayana Karandavyuha Sutra.
Many of you will already be familiar with this ancient text which was compiled during the 4th century. It demonstrates all of the virtues and powers of the Bodhisattva, and shows his journey and transformation into becoming the most important figure within Buddhism.
In this ancient text, we actually see Buddha uttering this phrase, and saying that it’s one of the most beneficial and important mantras within the religion.
It’s thought to be an incredibly condensed version of all of the Buddha’s sayings, grouped into one short phrase. It’s a way to connect with the teachings in an easy, quick, and accessible way.
The Associations Of Om Mani Padme Hum
Now that we’ve covered where this phrase comes from, we can move on to discuss some of the relevant associations. So, why did the great Buddha say that this was such an important phrase? Well, one of the primary reasons is because it’s associated with Shadakshari.
For those of you reading this article who don’t know who Shadakshari is, please allow us to give you a brief overview. Shadakshari is known as a four armed God, who holds two of his hands to his chest.
This is an incredibly important gesture within Buddhism, as it shows adoration for all things.
Shadakshari is well known for being a great symbol of immense compassion. He is also responsible for watching over all of the living beings on the planet. The goal of Shadakshari is to help to drive us toward spiritual liberation, and free us from all of our shackles.
So, why is ‘om mani padme hum’ commonly associated with Shadakshari? Well, the great Buddha said the reason why this phrase is associated with Shadakshari, is because ‘om mai padme hum’ helps to evoke compassion.
The more you repeat the phrase ‘om mai padme hum’, in the form of a mantra, the more compassion you’ll have for the living beings around you.
As you’ll already know, compassion for all living things is the foundation behind Tibetan Buddhism, and so this is why it’s such an important and common mantra within the religion.
As well as developing compassion, it is said that if you repeat this phrase enough, you will also achieve the six perfections.
What Are The Six Perfections?
So, if repeating the mantra, ‘om mani padme hum’, can help to drive us toward spiritual enlightenment, how does this all work?
So, as we mentioned above, repeating this phrase within Buddhism can help you to achieve what are called, ‘the six perfections’. But what are the six perfections, we hear you ask.
Well, the six perfections are what we need to aspire towards if we want to experience any satisfaction in life. They help us to solve our problems, and they help us to aid others too. Below, you will find a list of each of the different perfections, and their meanings.
The first perfection within Buddhism is generosity. Generosity is an incredibly important facet within Buddhism, and means aiding others when they need help. Generosity isn’t just practiced for the sake of other people however, but also you yourself.
Generosity is an incredibly important part of developing as a person, as it helps to combat feelings of worthlessness and low self esteem.
The more that we help other people, the more we’re able to increase feelings of our own self worth. It can also help to combat negative states of mind, where we feel stingy, and cling to our resources.
The second perfection that we find in Buddhism is self discipline. Self discipline is important within all aspects of Buddhism, and involves steering clear of any behaviors that could be considered destructive.
As human beings, we’re often guilty of overindulgence, and engaging in things such as overeating, binge drinking, smoking, and recreational drug use.
All of these would be considered destructive within Buddhism, and self discipline is required in order to combat them. By practicing discipline, we gradually gain more control over ourselves, and ultimately, our actions too.
This helps to build our self esteem, and allows us to feel far calmer too.
Finally, having self discipline also prevents us from harming those around us with our negative behavioral patterns.
The next perfection that we’re going to be taking a look at is patience. Patience is incredibly important within Buddhism, and means that we should be able to tolerate difficult times within our lives, without reacting in a negative way.
By practicing patience, we are able to see our situation more clearly, and realize that all things, good and bad, are transient. We’re better equipped to deal with the negative aspects of life, purely because we know they won’t last.
By practicing patience, we’re also able to help those around us too. Oftentimes, we get angry with people if they’re not adequately following our advice, or behaving in a way that we deem to be appropriate.
This can cause us to become frustrated and impatient with those around us, and spread the negative energy to others too.
Practicing patience makes us an overall better person to be around.
The fourth perfection within Buddhism is perseverance. Perseverance is incredibly important for achieving anything that you want in life.
As time goes on, we’ll face many difficulties that will test us and tempt us to leave our path, but perseverance ensures that we can power through these difficult times, and face any obstacle in our way.
In addition to helping us to overcome obstacles within our lives, perseverance also helps us to build up feelings of self worth.
By continually practicing perseverance, we can rid ourselves of things such as laziness, and also procrastination. It can help to drive us toward being better human beings.
Perseverance also helps us to aid others, even if they’re incredibly difficult to deal with. Not giving up on people shows that all of us are able to improve ourselves.
The fifth Perfection within Buddhism is concentration. If you’ve been practicing yoga or meditation for a while, then you’ll already know the importance of concentration.
By working on our concentration, we can help to combat a whole host of negative emotions.
For example, concentration is one of the main tools in our box when it comes to working through mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
We can help to train our thoughts, and to reframe our mindset so that we don’t get stuck in a pattern of negative thinking.
Finally, concentration also helps us to be more present in the current moment. For example, oftentimes when we’re speaking to others, our mind trails off in other directions, and we’re not giving them our full attention.
By actually being present in the moment and concentrating, we’re better able to hear what they’re saying, and ultimately, help them too on their journey.
The sixth and final perfection that we’re going to be taking a look at is wisdom. This is probably the most important, and debatably the most difficult perfection to achieve. Wisdom means that we’re able to ascertain what is morally correct, and what is not.
As human beings, we often have lapses in judgment, and these can lead to a whole host of different problems and difficulties.
By adapting and gaining a greater sense of wisdom, we can then see more clearly, and know how we should act and behave in different situations.
In addition to this, wisdom helps to give us a greater sense of clarity, and this prevents us from making decisions that we might come to regret later on.
What Is Enlightenment?
Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the six perfections, we can move on to discuss enlightenment. As we mentioned earlier, chanting ‘om mani padme hum’, can help to drive us towards enlightenment.
Although this is something that we hear about often within the context of Tibetan Buddhism, many of us don’t fully understand what it means.
Essentially, enlightenment is a state of being that is achieved after the six perfections have been reached. Once somebody reaches enlightenment, this means that they will no longer have to go through the cycle of rebirth.
In Buddhism, each of us is reborn again and again, until we can eventually reach this cycle. Once you’ve reached enlightenment, then you will go to Nirvana.
Nirvana means the complete cessation of desire, and hence, the end of suffering too.
A Breakdown Of Om Mani Padme Hum
When it comes to Buddhism, phrases are less important than individual words. It’s helpful to break down the phrase ‘om mani padme hum’.
Each of the individual words in the phrase have a separate meaning, and it’s a good idea to break all of these down so that we have a clearer understanding of the thing as a whole.
It’s no mistake that the phrase ‘mai padme hum’ is composed of six different words. In Buddhism, six is a sacred number, because it is representative of each of the different perfections.
They help to heal and empower us as human beings, and drive us towards a specific goal. It is helpful that when you next partake in a yoga class, or when you meditate, that you keep each of these in mind.
These will help to provide a feeling of purpose in your meditation.
- Om – Om is representative of the powers of the universe, and means divine energy, ultimately ridding yourself of any ego.
- Ma – The next part of the mantra is ‘Ma’. This essentially means purifying yourself of negative energies and emotions such as jealousy or anger towards other human beings. It also means having strong ethics that drive you and dictate your actions.
- Ni – Ni means to practice patience, and to rid yourself of negative qualities such as excessive desire or feelings of want.
- Pad – For our next word, ‘Pad’ essentially means practicing diligence in all things, and getting rid of any unnecessary judgment towards other people.
- Me – Me means concentration, and gets rid of any attachment to physical objects and things.
- Hum – Finally, ‘Hum’ means wisdom, and being able to see the unity of all things in the universe. It also means fully ridding yourself of any hatred towards physical beings.
Why Do You Chant Om Mani Padme Hum In Buddhism?
So, why is it so common to chant ‘om mani padme hum’, in Buddhism.
As we’ve explored in depth, the phrase has a great deal of meaning in Tibetan Buddhism, and is highly representative of the six perfections, which are states of being that you need to achieve in order to gain enlightenment.
But, not everyone who practices yoga, or meditation exercises is trying to achieve this goal, or fully recognize the six perfections, so why is it still so common?
Well, it’s essentially because it’s so soothing, and it can help to bring peace to each of your different chakras.
If we’re talking about chanting in a very general sense, this is known to be a very beneficial activity for human beings. Human beings, when they chant, experience energy shifts within the body.
These energy shifts can help you to feel more grounded and attuned to the present moment.
In addition to this, chanting also helps to develop a feeling of unity with the people around us too.
For example, when you’re in a yoga class, and you’re all repeating the same words and phrases in unity, this helps to build a sense of community, and gives us a feeling of oneness that ultimately makes us feel less alone.
In addition to all of this, now that you know the meaning behind ‘om mani padme’, this can also allow you to focus on the individual words, and use them as affirmations that will bring you towards the kind of life you’d like to lead.
To sum up, ‘om mani padme hum’, literally translates to ‘praise to the jewel in the lotus’, although this isn’t a satisfying enough explanation for Westerners practicing Tibetan Buddhism.
There is, in fact, a deeper meaning to this phrase, and it’s all to do with the six perfections. For those of you who don’t know what the six perfections are, they’re essentially varying qualities that a person must aspire towards in order to reach a state of enlightenment.
The six perfections consist of generosity, self discipline, patience, perseverance, concentration, and wisdom.
If a person is able to practice these fully, and recognize these qualities within themselves, then this means that they’ve fully reached a state of Nirvana.
When you break down the phrase, ‘om mani padme hum’, each of the individual syllables in the phrase represent one of these perfections.
So if, when we meditate, or when we practice yoga, we chant this phrase, this can help to remind us about the type of person that we’d like to eventually be.