Aum Mani Padme Hum!!
AN EXPLANATION OF THE TIBETAN INCANTATION
By Frater S. J. Marx
[The Rosicrucian Digest November 1933]
IN THE October, 1925, issue of THE MYSTIC TRIANGLE, the forerunner of the ROSICRUCIAN DIGEST, there was published an article by Sri. Ramatherio on the “Mystical Meaning of Amen.” Our illustrious Frater called our attention in that article to the vibratory powers of this ancient word, which has been referred to in many occult and mystical works as AUM, OM, AMEN, AUM-EN, AHMEN. He compared its relation to Numbers, Music, and other Etherical Vibrations.
The purpose of the present article is to reveal a further significance of the occult meaning of this mystical word AUM when used either alone or combined in the Tibetan incantation “AUM MANI PADME HUM.”
No matter how far back we try to trace its origin in the Vedas, in the Bible or other sources, we seem to be baffled as to its varied uses. In India the mystic word OM or AUM may signify the three persons of the Hindu Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva. To the Brahman, it signifies the “One without a second” of the Adwaita Philosophy. In every case, however, AUM is used as a creative sound whose vibration is to build words. Thus, when the mystic is capable of hearing all in one of the countless voices, cries, and songs, and noises of all human beings and things that exist and move, it is the unique sound of AUM that reaches him. The same AUM vibrates also in the utmost depth of his inner self. He who can pronounce it with the right tone, is able to work wonders, and he who knows how to utter it silently, attains supreme emancipation.
In a splendid work by Madame Alexandra David-Neel on the Magic and Mystery in Tibet, this mystic who spent fourteen years in that “Land of Snows” which for us Westerners is a land wrapped in an atmosphere of mystery, and is the land of the unknown, the fantastic and impossible; has collated her personal experiences with the lamas in the attainment of concentration and its Cosmic revelations. She states that in Tibet where the learned use the formula AUM MANI PADME HUM, together with the proper breathing exercises, they divide this formula into six syllables or vowel sounds and connect these six vowel sounds with the six classes of sentient beings, which are likewise related to one of the mystic colors as follows:
AUM is white and is connected with the Gods (Iha).
MA is blue and connected with the non-gods (Ihamayin).
NI is yellow and is connected with men (mi).
PAD is green and connected with animals (tudo).
ME is red and connected with non-men (Yidag).
HUM is black and connected with dwellers in Purgatory.
She further states that there are several opinions regarding the effect of the recitation of these six syllables. Popular tradition declares that those who frequently repeat the formula will be reborn in the Western Paradise of the Great Bliss. Others who deem themselves more enlightened, declare the recitation of AUM MANI PADME HUM may liberate one from a rebirth in any of the six realms.
It is likewise used for the support of a special meditation which may be approximately described as follows:
One identifies six kinds of beings with the six syllables which are pictured in their respective colors as mentioned above. They form a kind of chain without end that circulates through the body, carried on by the breath, entering through one nostril and going out of the other.
As the concentration of the mind becomes more perfect, one sees mentally the length of the chain increasing. Now when they go out with the expiration, the mystic syllables are carried far away, before being observed again with the next inspiration. Yet the chain is not broken, it rather elongates like a rubber band and always remains in touch with the person who meditates.
Gradually also the shape of the Tibetan letters vanish and those who “obtain the fruit” of the practice perceive the six syllables as the six realms in which arise, move, enjoy, suffer and pass away innumerable beings belonging to the six species.
And now it remains for the meditator to realize that the six realms, (the whole phenomenal world) are subjective; a mere creation of the mind which imagines them into which they think.
Advanced mystics reach, by the way of this practice, a trance in which the letters of the formula, as well as the beings and their activity, all merge into THAT which, for lack of a better term, Mahayanist Buddhists have termed “emptiness.” Then having realized the “Void” they become emancipated from the illusion of the world and, as a consequence, liberated from rebirths which are but the fruit of a creative delusion.
From this description of the use of AUM MANI PADME HUM by the mystics of Tibet, we can agree with Madame Alexandra David-Neel in her definition of the use of mysticism and psychology, that everything which relates, whether closely or distantly, to psychic phenomena and to the action of psychic forces generally, should be studied like any other science. That there is nothing miraculous or supernatural in them, nothing that should engender or keep alive superstition. Psychic training, rationally and scientifically conducted, can lead to desirable results. That is why the information gained about such training–even though practiced empirically and based on theories to which we cannot always give our consent–constitutes useful documentary evidence worthy of our attention.
Let us turn our attention from Tibet now to India and endeavor to secure the reason why breathing practice is enjoined in Raja-Yoga, together with the proper posture and the use of the sacred word AUM.
From rhythmic breathing comes a tendency for all the molecules in the body to move in the same direction; and this is needed, for when the mind is focussed into will the nerve-currents change into a motion resembling that of electricity. The nerves have been proved to show polarity under the action of electric currents. This indicates the fact that when the will is transformed into nerve-currents it has something of the force of electricity. So the rhythmic breathing helps to transform the body into a gigantic battery of will. When this is gained the yogi speaks of rousing the coiled-up power latent at the lower end of the spinal cord.
Thus to bring a state of perfect concentration the Yoga teaches that all the molecules must first move in the same direction, this being brought about by proper breathing. Posture is the next important point to concentrate properly the Yoga states. The meditator is taught to sit upright, the chest, neck and head must be in a straight line. Then breathe in and out in a rhythmic way. This brings harmony and tranquillity. Next comes the most important part, that of the inward repetition of some SACRED WORD. Repetition is advised because the act of repetition sets up certain rhythms and vibrations. The sacred word AUM is chosen in India because of its mystic meanings.
It is a syllable composed of three letters A U M. The first letter A is a root sound pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or palate.
The U sound rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding-board of the mouth.
M concludes the series and closes the lips on sound.
When by the use of these three syllables the Yoga has secured the proper atmosphere and the proper vibrations for pure concentration, and sufficient time has elapsed in the exercise to become mechanical, it is stated that the whole aspect of the nature of WILL is changed, and the book of knowledge of the Akasha records are opened.
A careful study of the two doctrines given above and their results, gives to Rosicrucian students an insight of the care and deliberation with which these Eastern mystics devote to a proper subduing of the OBJECTIVE MIND and the careful nurturing of the SUBJECTIVE MIND, and calls to our attention the numerous lectures we receive on the value of VOWEL SOUNDS, their uses and power.
We no longer wonder when we read in history, romance, fiction and religious books of the East, the power of OM, or AUM, and likewise we learn with gratification that even in the services of the Occident, the vibratory powers set up in a church service of the use of the word, AMEN, more especially in some forms of ritual where this Amen is chanted and properly used. The Occident has still much to learn from the Orient on the vibratory powers of vowel sounds.
Let us meditate on this magic, long drawn out syllable that has been sacred since before Atlantis sank under the ocean and new races explored new continents–the WORD that signifies, immeasurable, absolute, unthinkable, all-compassing, for ever infinite and unattainable, sublime and holy Essence–the Beginning and the End.
“He who would understand the PLAINS must ascend the ETERNAL HILLS, where a man’s eyes scan Infinity. But he who would make use of understanding must descend to the PLAINS, where PAST and FUTURE meet and men have need of him.”
On the meaning of: OM MANI PADME HUM
The jewel is in the lotus or praise to the jewel in the lotus
by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet
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 pure letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the
practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize 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 being who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path
became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who
from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good
qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from
gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into
How is this done? The path is indicated by the next four syllables.
MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factor 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
fulfills the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to
become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.
The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom. Just as
a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud,
so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-
contradiction where as there would be contradiction if you did not
have wisdom. There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing
that persons are empty of self-sufficient or substantial existence,
wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality (that is to say, of
difference of entity between subject and object), and wisdom that
realizes the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are may
different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom
Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and
wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable, HUM, which indicates
indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of
method and wisdom refers to one consciousness in which there is a full
form of both wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom.
In the mantra, or tantra vehicle, it refers to one conciousness in
which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one
undifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the five
conqueror Buddhas, HUM is the is the seed syllable of Akshobhya- the
immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by
Thus the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUM, mean that in dependence
on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom,
you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure
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 GREAT VEHICLE (UTTARA TANTRA) 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 (TATHAGATAGARBHA), that is
to be transformed and full developed into Buddhahood.
(From a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the
Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center, New Jersey.)
Transcribed by Ngawang Tashi (Tsawa), Drepung Loseling, MUNGOD, INDIA