Mantras

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Mantras

Postby Epistemes » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:11 pm

Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?

For instance, the Chenrezig mantra seems to have attached to it certain perfections, purifications, colors, symbols, etc. There appears to be a number of interpretations surrounding what a person should be thinking when chanting the mantra. The interpretations are so varied and so open that it leads me to believe that all are completely arbitrary and the mantra is, at base, meaningless.

By meaningless, I'm not trying to imply that the mantras don't have value. That would be highly incorrect to state. It is apparent that the mantras have great spiritual value, but there seems to be a certain transmission of meaning which gives them greater meaning to some than others. For instance, from my ignorant point-of-view, I chant a mantra and it sounds like a series of syllabic gibberish with a profound calming effect - not so different from reciting a 'Hail Mary' 50 times in a row. To others of you, this mantra may symbolize something greater and feel insulted when I call it "meaningless" and "gibberish" - not that I intend a person insult towards anybody or anything.

It all seems rather relative. And it all seems rather subjective.
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Re: Mantras

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sat Sep 17, 2011 4:47 pm

If you are asking whether uttering a string of Sanskrit syllables actually does anything on its own, beyond making the person who utters it feel better or whatever, in the same way that when Harry Potter says a magic word something happens, you may not get a definitive answer.
I once asked a teacher how saying mantras can liberate beings.
He said, "I don't know. How does a dog know you are calling him when you say his name?
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Re: Mantras

Postby dakini_boi » Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:18 pm

Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?

For instance, the Chenrezig mantra seems to have attached to it certain perfections, purifications, colors, symbols, etc. There appears to be a number of interpretations surrounding what a person should be thinking when chanting the mantra. The interpretations are so varied and so open that it leads me to believe that all are completely arbitrary and the mantra is, at base, meaningless.

By meaningless, I'm not trying to imply that the mantras don't have value. That would be highly incorrect to state. It is apparent that the mantras have great spiritual value, but there seems to be a certain transmission of meaning which gives them greater meaning to some than others. For instance, from my ignorant point-of-view, I chant a mantra and it sounds like a series of syllabic gibberish with a profound calming effect - not so different from reciting a 'Hail Mary' 50 times in a row. To others of you, this mantra may symbolize something greater and feel insulted when I call it "meaningless" and "gibberish" - not that I intend a person insult towards anybody or anything.

It all seems rather relative. And it all seems rather subjective.


Why do you think so many meanings would make it meaningless? Infinite methods. Ultimately, all meaning is meaningless. Meaning is about communication. The only kind of communication which has value (from a dharma POV) is the communication of reality as it truly is (wisdom/emptiness) or the communication of information that can lead to realization of emptiness (method/compassion). This includes any kind of healing. How these are communicated is relative and dependent upon who is communicating and who is receiving. Therefore, you have infinite possible practices, deities, mantras, as well as many possible interpretations for mantra. For an appreciation of this, try to read the following summary of White Lotus, a commentary on the 7-line prayer:
http://www.quietmountain.org/links/teac ... lnpryr.htm

Or - the following commentary on the Vajra Guru mantra:
http://www.rinpoche.com/gurumantra.html
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Re: Mantras

Postby DarwidHalim » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:57 am

Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?

For instance, the Chenrezig mantra seems to have attached to it certain perfections, purifications, colors, symbols, etc. There appears to be a number of interpretations surrounding what a person should be thinking when chanting the mantra. The interpretations are so varied and so open that it leads me to believe that all are completely arbitrary and the mantra is, at base, meaningless.

By meaningless, I'm not trying to imply that the mantras don't have value. That would be highly incorrect to state. It is apparent that the mantras have great spiritual value, but there seems to be a certain transmission of meaning which gives them greater meaning to some than others. For instance, from my ignorant point-of-view, I chant a mantra and it sounds like a series of syllabic gibberish with a profound calming effect - not so different from reciting a 'Hail Mary' 50 times in a row. To others of you, this mantra may symbolize something greater and feel insulted when I call it "meaningless" and "gibberish" - not that I intend a person insult towards anybody or anything.

It all seems rather relative. And it all seems rather subjective.


Yes. Mantra has meaning, but symbolycally.

For example Om Mani Padme Hum.
Om is symbol of Avalokiteshvara mind, speech, and body
Mani symbolize diamond, which is the boddhicitta side.
Padme symbolize Lotus, which is the Wisdom side.
Hum symbolize the union of all of them.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/tib/omph.htm

Padmashambava mentioned in his book (if I am not wrong Juniper Ridge), that Om Mani Padme Hum represent the quality of Avalokiteshvara, his mind, his wisdom, etc. So, we cannot know.

Like I cannot know your mind, unless I have clairvoyand. But to know Avalokiteshvara mind, we will need Buddha mind I guess. So, we know the symbol, but the real essence is unknown for us, normal human.

Need to experience it.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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Re: Mantras

Postby AlexanderS » Tue Oct 04, 2011 9:59 am

I developed trust in the power of mantra, when reciting "Om Amidewa Hri" created a hole in my fontanel.

In the context as to why I was doing it, that was a good thing.
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Re: Mantras

Postby mint » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:04 am

Can reciting a series of mantras ever substitute for sitting meditation? For instance, can reciting a thousand mantras of Padmasambhava have the same effect as sitting meditation?
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Re: Mantras

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:31 am

mint wrote:Can reciting a series of mantras ever substitute for sitting meditation? For instance, can reciting a thousand mantras of Padmasambhava have the same effect as sitting meditation?


Try it and tell us what you find.
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Re: Mantras

Postby mint » Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:37 am

dakini_boi wrote:
mint wrote:Can reciting a series of mantras ever substitute for sitting meditation? For instance, can reciting a thousand mantras of Padmasambhava have the same effect as sitting meditation?


Try it and tell us what you find.


I don't have the qualifications.

There are great benefits tagged on to these mantras which is why I asked. Plus, some days I literally cannot find the time to meditate - not even 5 minutes. It would be nice to know that roaming around the city streets with a tiny mala would do me some good on those days.
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Re: Mantras

Postby dakini_boi » Thu Oct 06, 2011 4:14 am

What do you mean you don't have the qualifications? There are many Buddhist mantras that can be practiced by anyone, even if you don't even have refuge - for example, om mani padme hung; om tare tuttare ture svaha.; om ah hung benza guru pema siddhi hung

mint wrote:It would be nice to know that roaming around the city streets with a tiny mala would do me some good on those days.


Again, I would encourage you to try it and see what happens. As an experiment, take a day or two and try to say and think the mantra as much as you can when not otherwise engaged. Pick a mantra that you like. Maybe you will not perceive any results, maybe you will. Who knows. It can't hurt, if your intention is to generate positivity!
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Re: Mantras

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Oct 06, 2011 9:44 am

mint wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:
mint wrote:Can reciting a series of mantras ever substitute for sitting meditation? For instance, can reciting a thousand mantras of Padmasambhava have the same effect as sitting meditation?


Try it and tell us what you find.


I don't have the qualifications.

There are great benefits tagged on to these mantras which is why I asked. Plus, some days I literally cannot find the time to meditate - not even 5 minutes. It would be nice to know that roaming around the city streets with a tiny mala would do me some good on those days.


Proper recitation of mantras IS meditation. To recite mantras properly, one must exercise mindfulness. If one is focusing on the mantra's sound, for instance, that exercise in single-pointed concentration has all the qualities of shamatha (or calm abiding/concentration meditation). If one is relaxing into the non-conceptual clarity-emptiness one is experiencing (once the habit of single-pointed concentration has been attained), then that has all the qualities of vipashyana (or insight meditation). Once cannot simply walk around mumbling mantras without any mindfulness or presence and expect any significant result.

It is beneficial and important to practice being mindful of what you are thinking, saying, and doing at all times, regardless of whether you choose to recite a mantra or not, or whether you can make time for a formal meditation session or not. Choosing to recite a mantra can enhance this practice, though, for a number of reasons including the fact the the recitation of the sounds helps to coordinate your energy and help you relax and slow your thoughts down so you can become more aware of their arising; also, by reciting the mantra, you create an auspicious interdependent link between the enlightened fruition of the enlightened being (whose realization gave rise to the mantra) and the qualitatively identical basis of such realization within your own being.
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Re: Mantras

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:07 am

Epistemes wrote:Do mantras have meaning? Or are they empty of meaning?

It all seems rather relative. And it all seems rather subjective.


For one part of my answer, I'll copy & paste part of a previous reply: "by reciting the mantra, you create an auspicious interdependent link between the enlightened fruition of the enlightened being (whose realization gave rise to the mantra) and the qualitatively identical basis of such realization within your own being."

Secondly, as Buddhist mantras are an aural embodiment of an enlightened being's realization, I believe the overall meaning of all such mantras is the entirety of awakened body, speech, and mind and their inseparability... Then, specifically, mantras often arise as the spontaneous awakened responsiveness to a particular need of sentient beings, i.e. the need to bring out one's intelligence, or the need to bring out one's natural potential for compassion, or the need to bring about healing or purification. So, as a natural consequence of the bodhicitta and the aspirations of a bodhisattva on the path, or of a buddha who formally made aspirations while a bodhisattva, different mantras arise as skillful means to accomplish some specific aspect of the path in particular, and the overall aims of the path in general.
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Re: Mantras

Postby mint » Fri Oct 07, 2011 3:23 am

Pema Rigdzin wrote:
Proper recitation of mantras IS meditation.

(...snip...)

by reciting the mantra, you create an auspicious interdependent link between the enlightened fruition of the enlightened being (whose realization gave rise to the mantra) and the qualitatively identical basis of such realization within your own being.


I'm with Epistemes on certain aspects of using mantras. I've been trying to recite the mantra of Guru Rinpoche during my spare moments, sometimes while walking yes, but always mindfully. Even so, as I'm reciting these Sanskrit words, in the back of my mind I'm thinking to myself, "What the hell am I even chanting?" It might as well be other empty syllabic formations - Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do! It really seems to only be the accumulation through history of spiritual repute that certain mantras seem to have taken hold on our imagination. I mean, how can certain Sanskrit syllables be more efficacious when, as the OP states, emptiness lies at the heart of even these syllables? It is the pure pragmatic function of reciting the same syllables over and over again which, I agree, bring one to the heart of samadhi. Catholics do this daily by reciting the rosary, for instance, and Jews by praying in front of the Wailing Wall, and on and on. Just listen to a recording of a single droning sound on a playback loop and you'll achieve samadhi.

While I understand that the interdependent link which you speak of lies in the ineffable conjoining of both realized and unrealized Buddha Natures in a single moment, the only auspicious link I can currently experience when utilizing mantras is by visualizing the enlightened being as I'm doing the recitation.
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Re: Mantras

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Oct 07, 2011 4:56 pm

You don't have to guess aimlessly. Buddha said to try things out for yourself. So, conduct a scientific study.
1. Chant Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do for an hour on one day,
2. Chant Om Mani PeMe Hung or Namo Amitabha for an hour the next day.
Do these alternately for a week and write down your findings.

Tell us what the results are.
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Re: Mantras

Postby mint » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:36 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:You don't have to guess aimlessly. Buddha said to try things out for yourself. So, conduct a scientific study.
1. Chant Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do for an hour on one day,
2. Chant Om Mani PeMe Hung or Namo Amitabha for an hour the next day.
Do these alternately for a week and write down your findings.

Tell us what the results are.


I accept your challenge! :jedi:

However, a few changes. My argument is that a series of Sanskrit syllables are otherwise meaningless aside from the repetition of their intonation and that it doesn't matter what you chant. Well, I'll contradict myself by saying that chanting Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do would be counterproductive to proving my point since I would be forced to thinking about The Sound of Music and my primary school music teacher! :shock: So, I propose that another series of meaningless syllables be used as the control. I propose that the control be: DUR SUM TRI VOOM KA. The mantra will be Om Mani Padme Hung. And, I propose that the English translation of the Mani mantra be chanted, as well.

My hypothesis is that the Sanskrit mantra will allow for a deeper state of contemplation if, for no other reason, I am already mentally disposed to recognizing it as an auspicious mantra of great repute. This begs the question whether or not I should try to mentally fabricate some false religious history concerning the control mantra.
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Re: Mantras

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:47 pm

Hehe. Interesting.
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Re: Mantras

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:12 pm

I don't think you should try to fabricate a meaning for the placebo mantra, but perhaps (if it makes any sense) to establish some sort of target goal, for example, which made you feel more relaxed or put you in a mood sympathetic to the needs of others. Of course, if this were a well equipped study you could measure heart rate , blood pressure and so forth. In lieu of that, I guess you could come up with something a little more subjective.

You could try to determine chanting which mantra most benefited countless sentient beings, but I think it would be difficult to process the data.

The next phase should be 2 mantras, one authentic and the other a placebo, but you not knowing which is which.

If the outcome is positive, you will be rewarded with a little piece of cheese.
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Re: Mantras

Postby mint » Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:25 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
The next phase should be 2 mantras, one authentic and the other a placebo, but you not knowing which is which.

If the outcome is positive, you will be rewarded with a little piece of cheese.


Perhaps this would be the better test. You come up with two mantras - one real, one fake - for me to chant over the course of a week and we'll see if there is any noticeable difference in certain meditative factors. I only know two real mantras - the Mani mantra and the mantra of Padmasambhava - so the field seems rather open. This way, not being predisposed to either one, I'll naturally grant each one similar attention.

And I like cheese. :twothumbsup:
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Re: Mantras

Postby dakini_boi » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:12 pm

Mantra A:

Om Ah Ra Pa Tsa Na Dhi


Mantra B:

Om Ah Ram Maha Lekhe Swaha



One of these is "real," one of them I made up. Maybe a week of each is too ambitious for an experiment, plus a waste of a week in practicing a fake mantra. Try 10 malas of one. Then, after a break of at least a few hours, 10 malas of the other one. Post your results.
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Re: Mantras

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:04 am

dakini_boi wrote:Mantra A:

Om Ah Ra Pa Tsa Na Dhi


Mantra B:

Om Ah Ram Maha Lekhe Swaha



One of these is "real," one of them I made up. Maybe a week of each is too ambitious for an experiment, plus a waste of a week in practicing a fake mantra. Try 10 malas of one. Then, after a break of at least a few hours, 10 malas of the other one. Post your results.


I like this. I was going to submit a pair of mantras too, but all of mine are real.
...or are they?????
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Re: Mantras

Postby DarwidHalim » Tue Oct 11, 2011 3:40 am

This is discuss in Kalu Rinpoche book.

Not everyone can make mantra. As we know bodhisattva level 7 is already extraordinary, but they still cannot make mantra. Only boddhisatva level 8 up to Buddha can make mantra.
I am not here nor there.
I am not right nor wrong.
I do not exist neither non-exist.
I am not I nor non-I.
I am not in samsara nor nirvana.
To All Buddhas, I bow down for the teaching of emptiness. Thank You!
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