Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes the powerful blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. In most religious traditions one prays to the deities of the tradition in the hopes of receiving their blessing, which will benefit one in some way. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, however, the blessing and the power and the qualities of the enlightened beings are not considered as coming from an outside source, but are believed to be innate, to be aspects of our own true nature. Chenrezig and his love and compassion are within us.
The mantra originated in India; as it moved from India into Tibet, the pronunciation changed because some of the sounds in the Indian Sanskrit language were hard for Tibetans to pronounce.
It is the most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, and open to anyone who feels inspired to practice it. It does not require prior initiation by a lama (meditation master).
It is said that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra. Om Mani Padme Hum can not really be translated into a simple phrase or sentence. The most common meaning offered for the mantra is usually something like “Behold! The jewel in the lotus!” But it is almost impossible to give one exact meaning since it has been interpreted in many ways.
There is not a single aspect of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings which is not contained in Avalokiteshvara’s six syllable mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum”, and as such the qualities of the “mani” are praised again and again in the Sutras and Tantras. Whether happy or sad, if we take the “mani” as our refuge, Chenrezig will never forsake us, spontaneous devotion will arise in our minds and the Great Vehicle will effortlessly be realized.
– Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
– From the album Tibetan Incantations
– Karandavyuha Sutra