Jewel of the Lotus
  THE MEANING OF OM MANI PADME HUM

   H.H. the Fourteenth 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, M. These symbolise the practitioner's impure body, 
speech and mind; they also symbolise 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 asset that there is anyone who from the 
beginning is free from faults an 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 indicted by the next four syllables. 
MANI, meaning jewel, symbolises 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 fulfils the wishes of 
sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to become enlightened 
fulfils the wishes of sentient beings.
      
The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolise 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 realising impermanence, wisdom realising that persons are 
empty of being self-sufficient or substantially existent, wisdom that 
realises the emptiness of duality - that is to say, of difference of 
entity between subject and object - and wisdom that realises the 
emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are many different types 
of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom realising emptiness.
	    
Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and 
wisdom, symbolised 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 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 that 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, the essence of a One Gone thus (Tathagatabarbha) 
that is to be transformed and fully developed into Buddhahood.
			     

[lotus]
Photo by Rebecca of Korea