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Re: Mantras

Post by ground » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:46 am

Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?
Take the words of a sutra. Take these words as mere optical symbols when read and mere acoustical symbols when heard. These symbols are empty of meaning. They are utterly meaningless in that there does not inhere the slightest meaning in the symbols as such.

There is no difference between the words or syllables of a sutra and the syllables of mantras in their being empty of meaning.
The same holds true for all the words and syllables explaining the "meaning of mantras".

Where does "meaning" arise from?

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Re: Mantras

Post by Tilopa » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:10 am

Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?


H.H. XIVth Dalai Lama

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 is composed of three letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.

Can impure body, speech, and mind be transformed into pure body, speech, and mind, or are they entirely separate? All Buddhas are cases of beings who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into the pure.

How is this done? The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method — the altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion , and love. Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty, or difficulties, of cyclic existence and 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 two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom. Just as a lotus grows from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom. There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing that persons are empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality — that is to say, of difference of entity between subject and object — and wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are many different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realizing emptiness.

Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of method and wisdom refers to wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom. In the mantra, or vajrayana vehicle, it refers to one consciousness in which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one undifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the Five Conqueror Buddhas, HUM is the seed syllable of Akshobhya — the immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by anything.

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. It is said that you should not seek for Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within. As Maitreya says in his Sublime Continuum of the Great Vehicle (Uttaratantra), all beings naturally have the Buddha nature in their own continuum. We have within us the seed of purity that is to be transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood.

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Re: Mantras

Post by Tilopa » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:14 am

And this as well....

The Benefits of Chanting Om Mani Padme Hum by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

The benefits of reciting the Compassion Buddha mantra are infinite, like the limitless sky.

Even if you don’t have much intellectual understanding of Dharma, even if the only thing you know is om mani padme hum, still the happiest life is one lived with an attitude free of the eight worldly concerns. If you live your life with the pure attitude free of attachment clinging to this life and simply spend your life chanting om mani padme hum—this six-syllable mantra that is the essence of all Dharma—that’s the purest Dharma.

It looks very simple, very easy to recite. But if you think of the benefits, it’s not at all simple. Here, I’d to mention just the essence of its infinite benefits.

Reciting the Compassion Buddha mantra just once completely purifies the four defeats of breaking the four root vows of self-liberation and the five uninterrupted negative karmas.

It is also mentioned in the tantras that by reciting this mantra you achieve the four qualities of being born in the Amitabha Buddha pure land and other pure lands; at the time of death, seeing Buddha and lights appearing in the sky; the devas making you offerings; and never being reborn in the hell, hungry ghost or animals realms. You will be reborn in the pure land of Buddha or as a happy transmigratory being.

When one who recites ten malas a day goes swimming, whether in a river, an ocean or some other body of water, the water that touches that person’s body gets blessed.

It is said that up to seven generations of that person’s descendents won’t get reborn in the lower realms. The reason for this is that due to the power of mantra, the body is blessed by the person reciting the mantra and visualizing their body in form of the holy body of Chenrezig. Therefore, the body becomes so powerful, so blessed that this affects the consciousness up to seven generations and has the effect that if one dies with a non-virtuous thought, one is not reborn in a lower realm.

Thus, when a person who has recited ten malas of om mani padme hum a day goes into a river or an ocean, the water that touches the person’s body gets blessed, and this blessed water then purifies all the billions and billions of sentient beings in the water. So it’s unbelievably beneficial; this person saves the animals in that water from the most unbelievable suffering of the lower realms.

When such a person walks down a road and the wind touches his or her body and then goes on to touch insects, their negative karma gets purified and causes them to have a good rebirth. Similarly, when such a person does massage or otherwise touches others’ bodies, those people’s negative karma also gets purified.

Such a person becomes meaningful to behold; being seen and touched becomes a means of liberating other sentient beings. This means that even the person’s breath touching the bodies of other sentient beings purifies their negative karma. Anybody who drinks the water in which such a person has swum gets purified.

We are unbelievably fortunate to have met the Dharma and to have the opportunity to do recitation and meditation on the Compassion Buddha. It is an easy way of purifying whatever negative karma we have collected, in not only this life but in many previous lives as well.

Because we have met the Buddhadharma, and especially this method--the practice of Compassion Buddha and recitation of his mantra--it is easy to purify negative karma and collect extensive merit and thus to achieve enlightenment. We are unbelievably fortunate.

Therefore, there is nothing more foolish than not taking advantage of this great opportunity. Normally, we get continuously distracted and waste our lives. Not only that, but all the actions done with ego and with the three poisonous minds of anger, attachment and ignorance create negative karma, the cause of suffering. In all existence, there is nothing more foolish than using this perfect human body to create only suffering.

Even if you know the teachings on how to meditate on bodhicitta, you still need to receive the special blessings of the deity, Compassion Buddha. You receive these by doing the meditation and recitation we practice in the mani retreat. Therefore, recitation of om mani padme hum is one way to actualize bodhicitta--to transform your mind into bodhicitta and make your meditation on bodhicitta effective.

Generally, according to my experience, in my home of Solu Khumbu in the Himalayas of Nepal, there are people who live their lives chanting om mani padme hum but have no idea of the three principal aspects of the path--renunciation, bodhicitta and the right view of emptiness--not even the words. Even though they can’t read and don’t even know the alphabet, they have great devotion to compassion and bodhicitta and live their lives reciting om mani padme hum. Such people are warm-hearted, very kind, very compassionate. This is proof from my experience that it has the effect of transforming the mind into a good heart and compassion.

Without bodhicitta, you cannot cause all the happiness for all sentient beings. You cannot do perfect work for all sentient beings, and you cannot achieve the complete qualities of the realizations and cessation, even for yourself.

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Re: Mantras

Post by zangskar » Tue Oct 11, 2011 8:25 am

Mantras as aids for concentration is only one part of mantra traditions. But given only a one week test run all that you can hope to test for is your immediate individual response to different mantras as concentration aids.

I doubt most teachers would claim that some arbitrary "authentic" mantra would necessarily be better than some arbitrary but "inauthentic" mantra for this purpose, so therefore I fail to see much purpose for your test. But anyway, concentration exercises are good either way, I just wished to point out some limitations of the study. :)

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Re: Mantras

Post by mint » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:33 pm

dakini_boi wrote:Mantra A:

Om Ah Ra Pa Tsa Na Dhi

Mantra B:

Om Ah Ram Maha Lekhe Swaha

One of these is "real," one of them I made up. Maybe a week of each is too ambitious for an experiment, plus a waste of a week in practicing a fake mantra. Try 10 malas of one. Then, after a break of at least a few hours, 10 malas of the other one. Post your results.
Mantra A is the real one.

It's easier to remember and it rolls off the tongue a lot smoother than Mantra B, thus allowing for greater depths of samadhi. Both of these characteristics seem to be trademarks of mantras.

Mantra B required too much effort. I found myself constantly searching for the next syllable. "Was it Maha Ram, or Ram Swaha, or....?" It is also very clunky. After getting used to it, I did reach a certain level of samadhi. Maybe not as deep as Mantra A, but it could have been other surrounding environmental or physiological circumstances. This happens with other authentic, actual mantras like the Mani mantra. Sometimes it helps me to reach samadhi, other times it's cumbersome chanting.

I don't know if I'm right about Mantra A being the real one, but these are my observations as requested. Even if I'm right, this experiment hasn't completely sold me on the notion that the "right" flow of syllables couldn't help one reach samadhi.

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Re: Mantras

Post by PadmaVonSamba » Wed Oct 19, 2011 12:46 am

Also, depending on the native language of the person reciting the mantra, some of the sounds may be completely different. For example, Sanskrit: vajra, Tibetan: benza. Chinese: O Mi To Fo, Japanese: Amida Butsu
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Re: Mantras

Post by dakini_boi » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:02 am

Experiment a success. :smile: Now we have a true piece of "anecdotal evidence" to the effectiveness of authentic mantras.

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Re: Mantras

Post by Grigoris » Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:38 am

Some mantra do have a literal meaning, some do not. One function of mantra is to put the analysing, conceptual mind on hold. That's why the literal meaning is not always important. Another aspect of matnra is that they replace our gibbering monkey talk with pure speech, if you are busy reciting mantra you don't have the opportunity to cuss and gossip.

Another thing to contemplate. Instrumental music. It doesn't have lyrics but it can convey a feeling or a meaning, right? If music can do this why can't mantra? Mantra are also "just" sound.

As one of my favourite Mahasiddhas used to say: "A-wop bop-a loo-mop, a-lop bam-boom! Tutti Frutti, aw-rooty!"
PS :twothumbsup: to TMingyurs post! Spot on!
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Re: Mantras

Post by booker » Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:30 pm

TMingyur wrote:
Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?
Take the words of a sutra. Take these words as mere optical symbols when read and mere acoustical symbols when heard. These symbols are empty of meaning. They are utterly meaningless in that there does not inhere the slightest meaning in the symbols as such.

There is no difference between the words or syllables of a sutra and the syllables of mantras in their being empty of meaning.
The same holds true for all the words and syllables explaining the "meaning of mantras".

Where does "meaning" arise from?

Kind regards
As I understand this, the translation of mantra might be empty of meaning (some can't be even translated).
This however does not change the fact, that chanting mantra makes a result related to the energy associated with the particular mantras.

Same the word "fire" is empty of meaning - it can mean many things when someone says "fire", but the usage of actual energy of the actual fire will manifest according to it's energy, and you will get a burn, wheter you call it "fire" in English or "ogień" in Polish or you call it "agni" in Sanskrit. Whether you know or not what "agni" or "ogień" means, the actual physical fire which these words point to burn the same.

For instance, it's possible to "blow" energy linked with a mantra into material objects, and when you get in contact with such object, you get in contact with that particular "blown" energy. And if you are receptive instantly you get the feeling of this energy. It's something quite concrete, like it's something concrete to be burnt by the material fire. So when you chant mantra you "call" the energy linked to the mantra, and by that you get the particular energy to work, even if you haven't got a faintest idea what the meaning of mantra is.
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