Benefits and Qualities of the Six Syllables Mantra
Spoken by Penor Rinpoche
Presently, we are in the dharma-ending age, where people have limited wisdom, faith and diligence. Thus, it is necessary to persevere diligently in the practice of dharma. A practice that fulfills this necessity is reciting the six-syllables mani mantra while viewing through one’s devotion that the guru is not different from Chenrezig. The six syllables mani mantra is very easy to recite and encompasses the essential meaning of all the Buddha’s teachings. It is the heart-essence of Chenrezig (or Avalokiteshvara) and brings infinite blessings. If one takes it as one’s primary practice, then all humans, celestial beings, and even the harmful ghosts or gods will bless you benevolently and you will have a long life without any sickness or calamities. In the next life, you will be reborn in Potala mountain or Amitabha’s pureland, or at least, you will take rebirth in a land where the Buddha-dharma is flourishing. This is because Chenrezig’s heart mantra is imbued with the limitless blessings, loving kindness and compassion of all the Buddhas.
In a sutra, it says, “If one recites this mantra, innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Gods, Dragons and beings of the eight classifications will congregate where one dwells and there will be endless dharma-doors of samadhi. Seven generations of the family of one who recites (this mantra) will be liberated. The worms (or sentient beings) in one’s stomach will attain levels on the Bodhisattva path. Such a person (who recites the mantra) will perfect the paramitas daily, have unimpeded eloquence and purify his wisdom aggregate. Whenever his breath touches others’ bodies, it would cause that person to attain levels on the Bodhisattva path. If, for instance, all beings below the fourth heaven realm attained to the seventh bhumi Bodhisattva position, all their combined merit would be the same as reciting the six syllables mani mantra once. If one used gold and jewels to build Buddha statues as numerous as dust, it would not be as meritorious as writing one syllable of the six syllables mani mantra. If one obtained the six syllables mani mantra, one will not be contaminated by the greed, hatred and ignorance. If one wore this mantra on the body, one will likewise not be contaminated by the sickness of greed, hatred and ignorance. Anyone who wears, touches, sees (the mantra), all such sentient beings will attain the levels on the Bodhisattva path and be forever set apart from the sufferings such as birth, old age, sickness and death.”
The six syllables mani mantra of Chenrezig, Om Mani Padme Hung, is the manifestation of all the Buddhas’ compassion in the form of sound. Within it, the 84,000 dharma-doors of the Buddha are encapsulated. Although there are many different kinds of mantras, such as awareness-mantra, dharanis, secret mantras, but none of them is more sublime than the six syllables mani mantra. The vast benefits of reciting this mantra (which is usually just called ‘mani’) has been mentioned frequently in the Buddha’s sutras and tantras. It is said that just reciting this mantra once is equivalent to reciting all the 12 categories of the Buddha’s teachings. Reciting the six syllables mani mantra can perfect the six bodhisattva paramitas and firmly seal off all possibilities of taking rebirth in the six realms. This is a simple practice, easy to understand. All the people can practice its recitation and it encompasses the essence of the Buddhadharma. If you are able to regard the mani mantra as your refuge in times of happiness or suffering, then Chenrezig will always be with you. You will become more and more devoted without even trying to. The realisation of the mahayana path will naturally arise in your mindstream.
According to the records in the Jewel-Chest sutra, reciting a hundred-million times of this mantra will cause all the organisms on one’s body to receive Chenrezig’s blessings and after one’s death, the smoke from the cremation of one’s corpse can protect anyone who breathes it from rebirth in the three lower realms.
Even one syllable from this mantra, whether it be ‘Om’, ‘Ma’ or ‘Ni’ has inconceivable power. It can bless and cause sentient beings to be liberated. It is said that the Buddha, who has such extraordinary power far exceeding those of any sentient being, is able to tell accurately how many raindrops there are in a rainstorm lasting 12 years but yet, even he is unable to completely express the merit of saying the mani mantra once. If the Buddha began to express its merit, even if all the world’s forests and trees were made into paper, it would not be sufficient for writing down even the smallest part of the merit of the mantra.
There is nothing in this world that can really frighten the god of death and make him retreat, but the warm radiance of Chenrezig’s compassion can remove all fear that anyone felt at the point of death. This is what is called, “the refuge which never deceives”.
The six syllables mani mantra is Chenrezig’s heart-essence, it is the bodhisattvas’ paramitas in the form of mantra. If you recite this mantra, all the six paramitas will automatically arise and action-bodhichitta will spontaneously be accomplished.
Mantra is one essential component of the Vajrayana path but not one mantra is better than the mani mantra. It encompasses all the functions of all mantras and also embodies all the other mantras’ blessings and power. Even the great Karma Chakme and other well-learned noble beings could not find any mantra in the teachings that was of more benefit, more quintessential and simple to practise than the mani, and thus utilised the mani mantra as their main practice. Even hearing the mani mantra can liberate one from samsara. Just as Chenrezig has said, anyone who practises this mani mantra will perfect all the six bodhisattva paramitas and cleanse all their obscurations and karma.
In order to bless sentient beings, Chenrezig endowed the mani mantra with the same power as his very own body, this is the ‘dedication of unborn emptiness’. Writing the six syllables mani mantra will lead all beings who see it to be liberated. Reciting the six syllables mani mantra will lead all beings who hear it to be liberated. If one thought of the mantra, then one will be liberated by recalling. By wearing it on one’s body, there will be liberation by contact. If you are accustomed to regarding all sounds as the mani mantra, then all the fearful sounds in the bardo will not cause you any trepidation.
In this age of the five degenerations, the compassionate Chenrezig’s blessings is exceptionally strong. But, just as Guru Rinpoche has predicted, “in the future, there will be some beings with insufficient merit who will not treasure the six syllables mani mantra.” Chenrezig’s emanation, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo also said, “in the future, there will be some beings who will discriminate the dharma due to their own self-clinging, they will abandon all positive actions and belittle the six syllables mani mantra saying that it is a practice for old people or children. These people have been led by the demonic obstacles into the deviant paths. Their future life would definitely be in the hells. Thus you should not give rise to any doubt about compassionate Chenrezig’s dharma practice but should instead practice it diligently, because this practice is the easiest to accomplish and there is no other practice that bestows greater blessings that this.”
The six syllables mani mantra has worldly benefits such as removing all sickness, pain, negative karma, obscurations and demonic obstacles, increasing one’s merit and prosperity. Its ultimate benefit is to end samsara and bring one to the state of perfect unsurpassed Buddhahood.