Six-Character Great Bright Mantra
The mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, is commonly referred as “Six-Character Great Bright Mantra”. It appears in “Karandavyuha Sutra”, which can be translated as “Buddha speaks Mahayana Sublime Treasure King Sutra”. Om Mani Padme Hum is associated with Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Reciting the mantra out loud or silently to oneself can invoke powerful connection with this Bodhisattva, who represents compassion in Buddhism. Viewing the written form of Om Mani Padme Hum is said to have the same effect, so it is common to see this mantra being carved into stones and placed at where people can see them.
Om Mani Padme Hum is simple to remember, so even the illiterate people can recite the mantra easily. The first word “Om” is a sacred syllable found in Indian religions. The word “Mani” means "jewel" or "bead", “Padme” is the "lotus flower", and “Hum” represents the spirit of enlightenment.
In Tibet, it is common to write the mantra on a paper and insert it into prayer wheels. When an individual spins the wheel, it is said that the effect is the same as reciting the mantra as many times as it is duplicated within the wheel.
Constantly reciting Om Mani Padme Hum can free practitioner’s consciousness and attachment to their six senses and ordinary mind, for which they constantly take place inside of their bodies. This also creates samsara and karma that keeps people bound to sufferings. Therefore, this powerful mantra can purify the practitioner’s mind, speech and body, and liberates people from negative karmas.
The benefits of reciting this mantra are like an infinite sky, as long as the reciter practices with great concentration and sincerity. Due to different dialects, different cultures may pronoun Om Mani Padme Hum with slight various pronunciations. What counts is not the sound or the numbers of the recitation. It is sincerity that makes the mantra efficacious, for which it creates resonances with Buddha, Bodhisattva or enlightened beings. If one is not sincere during recitation, the mantra will not be efficacious because the bond with the enlightened one is weak. Being concentrated is efficacious. Being scattered is useless.
In the Buddhist tradition, special words are repeated over and over again until they begin to gather a certain “emptiness”. This “emptiness” is not the traditional sense of experiencing nothing. Rather, it is an experience in the moment without the usual attachment to six senses and ordinary mind. Practitioners become free or “empty” of everything, and what is left over is the inner awareness.
Om Mani Padme Hum also blesses the practitioner to achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, ethics, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom. These six perfections are what all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have to go through before attaining enlightenment.
Om Mani Padme Hum is easy to say yet powerful. It is also accessible to the untrained laypeople, and that’s why that this mantra is widely accepted and recited in the world.