Twice in my life I have said Om Mani Padme Hum 108,000 times. Each occasion this mantra filled the spaces between work and sleep. It ran through every bead in my mala. It buzzed in my head. It beat in my heart. It whispered between the membranes of my cells. It fell off my tongue and the visceral resonance of it hummed in me for a long while afterwards even in my dreams I could hear it.
The practice entrained my mind into a place of silence. A space so vast and quiet it stunned me. No thoughts. Just the breath rising and falling. Fully present in the body. I could deeply listen to the sounds near and far in some hyper stereo surround sound. My eyes saw the world with out the attachment of past judgments and prejudices. I was free.
It never lasts though. That is why it is a practice. More mantras. Another bead rolling over my finger. Repeat. Mantra. Bead. Stillness . Breath. Repeat…. This rhythmic tactile activity that shifts consciousness.
“Om Mani Padme Hum”
The most common translation is “a jewel in the lotus” referring to the deity Avalokiteshvara. The deity of love and compassion.
Another possible interpretation of this mantra by the Tibetan Buddhist scholar Daniel Lopez, is that the middle part “Mani Padme” is a female deity Vidya known also as “Wisdom” the consort to Avalokiteshvara this would make the mantra translate to:
“She of the lotus jewel”
I would like to think the mantra as neutral and androgynous. Representing the potential in all of us to remember the jewel that birthed us. The jewel being the Universe…. that singularity that began this Universe. Stars are the lotus where all is created and destroy in the cosmic experience…. Lotus grow from mud, the ferment and rise to bloom in the sunlight. We are all born from those star lotus wombs.
We are of the Universe
We are born of the stars
Regardless of it’s etymology and my personal musings. The exercise of repeating the mantra, moving a bead, works to slow and stop my mind. The busy nebulous of endless thoughts, thinking, images, ideas, problem solving, the cosmos in the cranium….
… that stillness is the unknown that place where everything begins.