"In our world today, we tend to say: “These are my parents, this is my country, this is my property etc.” From the point of view of Dharma, we look at all beings and deeply wish that they are liberated from suffering and reach enlightenment. If we generate bodhicitta in this manner, we practice bringing benefit to others. This thought is crucial not only for Dharma activities, but also for any kind of activity in our life.
If, keeping in our mind that we want to bring benefit to others, we say just one mantra ÓM MANI PÄME HUNG, it will help others achieve liberation from suffering and reach Buddhahood."
-- This teaching was given by the 16th Karmapa during his lecture at the Colorado University in 1980
Meaning of Six Syllables’
The Six Syllables are the name mantra of the Noble One: OM is a syllable summarising the timeless awareness of the five Buddha bodies, MANI means ‘jewel’, PADME stands for ‘with lotus’, ‘With Jewel and Lotus’ (MANI PADME) is a name of Avalokiteśvara. HŪNG represents the enlightened activity which protects from the suffering of the six classes of beings. So the meaning of the mantra is:
“Essence of the five bodies and five wisdoms, the one with jewel and lotus, please protect the six classes of beings from their suff ering!”
‘With Jewel and Lotus’ Chenrezig, skt. Avalokitesvara
The actual benefits
The benefi ts of having done the meditation and recitation of the noble Avalokiteśvara in this way have no limit and thus only a few core points are mentioned. First, there are the benefi ts through meditating on the enlightened body and calling it to mind. The Padmajālamūlatantra says:
"Practising just one mandala of enlightened body, Includes all the Buddhas: The body of Avalokiteśvara, the Protector. To meditate thus and calling him to mind Purifi es the harmful acts with immediate consequence?
In the Karandavyūhasūtra it is taught:
“This is the perfect essence of Avalokiteśvara’s powers.” Those who constantly embrace and recite the Six Syllables, this great vidyamantra, will be endowed with immense merit: When reciting it, Buddhas, as many as the sand grains on the Ganga river’s bed multiplied by 99 will gather and Bodhisattvas in number equal to the number of atoms. It also contains the practice of the six pāramitās"
Through the power of a Tathāgata’s wisdom, one can count the number of all the atoms, the number of sand grains on the grounds of the oceans, all the water drops in the rivers of the four continents, the number of all types of grains, the number of all sentient beings’ hair combined, the number of leafs of all the trees there are, and even the number of rain drops which would fall on earth during twelve years of uninterrupted rain. However, one is not able to measure the mass of merit acquired by just a single repetition of the Six Syllables. The summarised meaning of the various sūtras and tantras that extensively praise the mantra is in turn clarifi ed in the Khachem (The Testament) of the Dharma King Songtsen Gampo. His advices of the Avalokiteśvara practice-cycles, too, are mainly and solely about the Six Syllables. In short, it is said that with regard to all the mantras one may repeat there is nothing comparable to the great benefi t of the Six Syllables, the supreme enlightened speech. It is thus appropriate to put constant eff ort in only this.
Detailed explanation of the six syllable mantra
OM MANI PEME HUNG
OM MANI PADME HUM
Again, concerning the Six Syllable secret mantra: The union of the wisdom power of all Buddhas is Avalokiteśvara. That which summarises and extracts the power and capacity of all of noble Avalokiteśvara’s compassion and activity is the Six Syllable mantra itself.
The white OM is the syllable that unites enlightened qualities, arising from the natural expression of the Noble One’s five wisdoms. It is the nature of the pāramitā of meditative stability. It purifies the affliction of pride as cause and the general results it.creates. In particular, it purifies the suff ering of the transition and downfall of those reborn as gods. It is inseparable from the enlightened form and actions of the Sage of the Gods, Indra Kauśika, and the embodiment of the inherent radiance of the Wisdom of Equanimity. It leads the six classes of beings to the Glorious Realm in the south, Śrīmat, and lets them attain the form of Buddha Ratnasambhava.
The green MA is the syllable of enlightened action. It arises from the natural expression of immeasurable love, the Noble One’s compassion towards all beings. It is the nature of the pāramitā of patience. It purifies the affliction of jealousy as cause and the general results that jealousy creates. Specifically, it purifies the suffering of quarrels and conflict of the demigods (asūras). It is inseparable from the enlightened form and actions of Asūras’ Sage Vemacitra and the embodiment of the inherent radiance of the All-accomplishing Wisdom. It leads the six classes of beings to the Realm of Consummate Activity in the north and lets them attain the form of Buddha Amoghasiddhi
The yellow NI arises from the Noble One’s great, effortless and allembracing compassion. It is the indestructible (vajra) wisdom, the union of all enlightened body, speech, mind, and activity; the syllable that spontaneously transmutes cyclic existence into the expanse of nirvāna. It is the nature of the pāramitā of good conduct. It purifies the cause – the taint of ignorance – dualistic clinging – and the general effects it creates. Particularly, it purifies the four great rivers of human suffering: birth, old age, sickness, and death. It is inseparable from the enlightened form and actions of the Sage of the Humans, Śākyamuni. It is the embodiment of the inherent radiance of the Spontaneously Present Wisdom. It leads the six classes of beings to Akanistha, the pure realm of dharmadhatu, and lets them attain the enlightened form of Vajradhara, the sixth Buddha.
The clear blue PE is the syllable of the enlightened body. It arises from the natural expression of the Noble One’s impartial compassion, immeasurable equanimity. It is the nature of the pāramitā of superior knowledge, wisdom. It purifies the cause, the affl iction of ignorance as well as the effects that ignorance creates in general. Specifically, it purifies the suffering of animals: dullness, speechlessness, and being exploited. It is inseparable from the enlightened form and actions of the Sage of the Animals, Dhruvasinha, Steadfast Lion. It is the embodiment of the inherent radiance of the Wisdom of Dharmadhātu. It leads the six classes of beings to the pure realm in the centre, Ghanavyūha, the Densely Arrayed, and lets them attain the enlightened form of Buddha Vairocana.
The red ME is the syllable of enlightened speech. It arises from the natural expression of immeasurable joy, the Noble One’s compassion that is equal to all. It is the nature of the pāramitā of generosity. It purifies the cause of desire-attachment and greed, and the general results they create. In particular, it purifies the suffering of hunger and thirst of the hungry spirits. It is inseparable from the enlightened body and actions of the Sage of the Hungry Spirits, Jvālamukha, Blazing Mouth, and the embodiment of the inherent radiance of Discriminating Wisdom. It leads the six classes of beings to the Realm of Joy in the west, Sukhāvatī, and lets them attain the enlightened form of Buddha Amitābha.
The black HŪNG is the syllable of enlightened mind. It arises from the natural expression of immeasurable compassion, the compassion of the Noble Ones that watches over all beings as if they were one’s own children. It is the nature of the pāramitā of superior knowledge. It purifies the cause, dualistic clinging and aversion, and the general results they create. In particular, it purifies the suffering of extreme heat and cold of beings in hell existences. It is inseparable from the enlightened form and actions of the Sage of the hell realms, Dharmarāja, King of Dharma, and is the embodiment of the inherent radiance of Mirror-Like Wisdom. It leads the six classes of beings to the Realm of True Joy, Abhirati, and lets them attain the body of Buddha Aksobhya.
In such a way these very Six Syllables, the king of mantras, gather into one point all power and force of the immeasurable enlightened activity that completely extricates the six classes of beings from the depths of cyclic existence. By reciting it, one obtains limitless benefi ts and blessings! Thus, at any time, be it during the sessions or in the breaks – the four situations of daily life – one should energetically recite it uninterruptedly, like the continuous stream of a great river. One should practice as instructed:
"One deity contains all Victors – Avalokiteśvara;
One mantra contains all essential mantras – the Six Syllables;
One dharma contains all creation and completion stages – bodhicitta.
Aware that knowing one frees all, recite the Six Syllables!"
Text from the book Buddha of Compession by Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche