om mani padme hum

The Song That Has Changed My Life

As I walked one sunny, quiet morning in Kathmandu to the Indian Embassy to pick up my visa, I heard this song. It wasn’t the first time I heard it playing outside a Nepali store, nor was it the last time. But for whatever reason I had to go in and find out what the song was.

All this happened in a daze. In reality, I should have gone straight to the embassy. Each delayed minute in getting there represented a newly arrived person who would delay me a further five minutes, but it didn’t matter. I had to inquire about this song.

I went into the store and asked the guy about the song. He said it was from this CD, prominently displayed on the checkout counter. I don’t have a CD/DVD player on my computer, so I asked if I could just buy the MP3s.

Then I thought for a minute, that this was Tibetan/Buddhist music and it’s probably bad karma to buy MP3s (the store owner would make 100% profit on the sale) but if I bought a CD then some of the money would at least propagate down the chain. I doubt any gets back to the artists since everything in the store was pirated, but still.

Below is the song, titled Om Mani Padme Hum.

The meaning of the song is complicated. Below is an explanation by Gen Rinpoche.

“Om” it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity.
“Ma” helps perfect the practice of pure ethics.
“Ni” helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience.
“Päd”, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance.
“Me” helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration.
The final sixth syllable “Hum” helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.

The Dalai Lama explains it as:

“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 […] symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha[…]”

“The path is indicated by the next four syllables. Mani, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factors of method: (the) altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.[…]”

“The two syllables, padme, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom[…]”

“Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable hum, which indicates indivisibility[…]”

“Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which 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[…]”

Tibetan Om Ma Ni Padme Hum Flags

Tibetan Om Ma Ni Padme Hum Flags

In my case, I have no explanation for why this song seemed to speak so loudly to me in Nepal before I knew of its deep meaning. I don’t know why it has so taken hold of me. I can listen to it over and over again without getting bored. Whether on a long bus ride or in the heart of a busy city, this song seems to keep me calm and centered.

I have no doubt that if I ever have dementia like this old man, this will be the song to reawaken me and my spirit.

4 replies
  1. Passer By
    Passer By says:

    Had the song in the background for 20 minutes, at some point it just sort off jelled into the background, totally forgot it was playing – quite relaxing.

  2. UM
    UM says:

    I am in love, enchanted and mesmerized with the Mystic, Supreme Law of the Universe, Buddhism, Nam Myoho Renge Kyo, Om Mani Padme Hum which is translated as Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus and every other mantra. If anyone out there is being gangstalked as I am stay strong. The Universe is watching these monsters chase me around the city shooting me with electricity even today from some device that looks almost like a club but is straight and is maybe 16 inches in length and yellow gold in color and the ends are black and have black handle strings hanging from it. Trust what the Buddha says and I believe that the Universe will send help to Detroit to save me and my family. May every being be well. Ursula Martinez


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] flags I saw close up have the phrase Om Ma Ni Padme Hum on them. This phrase is central to Tibetan Buddhism. Below is a chant heard throughout Nepal (and […]

  2. […] the 3 by 1 mile site was special in its own right. I have fallen in love with the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. You hear this song all over Nepal, and the entrance to Buddha’s birthplace was no different. […]

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