Mantras are an important part of the Buddhist tradition. They help connect Buddhist practitioners with the core teachings. They’re used in various meditations and daily practices and help pave the path for Enlightenment.
But just what is a Buddhist mantra? How do they work? And what can you learn from Buddhist mantras if you’re not a practicing Buddhist?
In this article we will explore the 4 sacred Buddhist mantras:
What Is A Buddhist Mantra?
A mantra is a syllable, word, or set of phrases used in meditation. Most Buddhist mantras are based on the core teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas. But keep in mind that there are many different types of mantras used by different cultures around the world.
The word mantra is a Sanskrit word that means, “a thought behind a speech or action.” Mantras are practiced in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism.
Today, we’re going to focus on the most powerful Buddhist mantras still in practice today.
How Do Buddhist Mantras Work?
Why do Buddhists use mantras? Well, it helps to think of mantras as a form of prayer.
Meditation is an important part of Buddhist practice. Mantras are used in Buddhist meditation as a way of encouraging attunement between the interior and exterior worlds.
Some experienced meditation masters encourage others to ground themselves with meditation. They go further to say that, “Meditation is the firmest foundation on which to build your spiritual temple.” It can be quite a profound practice.
When incorporating Buddhist mantras into spiritual practice, one can read, hmm, speak aloud, chant or sing Buddhist mantras. Some Tibetan Buddhism practices call for carving mantras into stones.
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The best way to truly understand how Buddhist mantras work is to explore them for yourself.
What Is Your Personal Mantra?
A personal mantra is a phrase or a sound that helps you focus. There are many different forms of mantras, from single words to longer phrases.
When trying to select a personal mantra, focus on what makes you feel good. Your mantra should call to something deep within you. It should make you feel empowered and grounded.
How Do You Chant a Mantra?
Using a mantra might seem pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised by how involved this practice can be.
Select a word or phrase that has a powerful underlying meaning. It should be something that speaks to you on a deep and profound level.
Next, you must choose whether to formally or informally practice your mantra.
Formal practice is a form of meditation. Aim to practice for 5-10 minutes a day.
Settle yourself in a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Practice some mindful breathing. Then, begin chanting your mantra.
You don’t need to chant out loud for the mantra to have an effect. In fact, practicing silently can be a powerful experience in and of itself.
Give yourself over to the deeper meaning of the mantra. Think about each word as you recite. Sink into them and let their power consume you.
Not enough time for formal practice? You can also practice your mantra informally as you go about your daily activities.
If you find yourself in a situation that calls for the help of your mantra, repeat it a few times under your breath, and practice momentary mindfulness to help ground the experience.
You’d be surprised just how big a difference your personal mantra can make in your daily life.
What Are Some Buddhist Mantras?
Many Buddhist mantras are thousands of years old but are practiced today with as much devotion as they were centuries ago.
Here are four of the most powerful Buddhist mantras practiced today around the world.
1. The Shakyamuni Mantra
“Om Muni Muni Mahamuni Shakyamuniye Svaha.”
“I invoke the Universal sound, Buddha nature and the wise one, wise one of the Shakyans, hail to thee!”
This mantra pays respect to the Buddha himself, Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha was the pure embodiment of Buddha nature, the recognition that Enlightenment is attainable. By using the Shakyamuni Mantra, Buddhists seek to encourage the development of their own Buddha nature.
2. The Medicine Buddha Mantra
“Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha Bekanze Radza Samudgate Soha.”
“I now invoke the Universal sound to release the pain of illness, release the pain and darkness of delusion, and to achieve supreme spiritual heights. I offer this prayer to the Medicine Buddha.”
This Buddhist mantra helps alleviate physical pains, encourage personal growth, and facilitate Enlightenment.
3. The Avalokitesvara Mantra
“Om Mani Padme Hum.”
“I now invoke the Universal sound, the jewel, the goal of Enlightenment, love, and compassion, Lotus wisdom, and a pure indivisible unity of wisdom with practice.”
This mantra is often used in Tibetan Buddhism and is chanted to ask for the blessings of Chenrezig. Chenrezig is a famous Buddhist bodhisattva revered for his compassionate nature. This mantra seeks to cultivate and spread compassion.
4. The Green Tara Mantra
“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha.”
“I invoke the Universal sound and the Green Tara to bring deliverance from suffering and delusion, paving the way for compassion and Enlightenment. I offer this prayer to Green Tara.”
Buddhists use this mantra to overcome roadblocks in relationships. The bodhisattva Green Tara, “the mother of liberation,” is called on to help and offer assistance in times of need.