A Beginners Guide to the Sacred Buddhist Mantras

A Beginners Guide to the Sacred Buddhist Mantras

woman contemplating sunrise

Buddhist mantras are a powerful tool to elevate your modern way of life. Explore four of them and learn how to practice them daily.

When you’re stressed or your mind is full of compulsive negative thoughts, reciting Buddhist mantras can help calm you down and quiet your mental chatter. 

When it’s done daily, it can help generate a more positive mental and emotional state. Most importantly, you don’t need to become a Buddhist monk to start using the mantras to elevate your modern life.

Explore this sacred wisdom with these fundamentals:

Mantras are more than a powerful tool for calming your inner noise. They can bring greater compassion, better clarity, and get you closer to enlightenment.

What Is A Buddhist Mantra?

The word mantra in Sanskrit means a “mind tool.” The Tibetans perceive mantras as a mind-protection tool they use to protect the mind from negative thoughts and emotions. 

They consist of syllables, words, or sets of phrases recited over and over to help you concentrate on a beneficial state of mind, often used in mantra meditation

Most Buddhist mantras, also known as Buddhist meditation chants, are based on the core teachings of the Buddha and bodhisattvas. They connect practitioners with the essence of the spiritual system’s tradition and help pave the path toward enlightenment. 

Buddist mantras list includes thousands of chants, associated with different bodhisattvas, deities, and protectors — each one with its own specific meaning and purpose. Additionally, depending on the type of Buddhism, they may have multiple translations and interpretations.

hand sutra

How Do Buddhist Mantras Work?

Buddhists use mantras as a form of prayer, often used in Buddhist meditation. They’re a way of encouraging attunement between the interior and exterior worlds or protecting the mind from disturbing states.

When incorporating the “mind tool” into your spiritual practice, you can read, speak aloud, recite mentally, chant, or sing them.

The best way to truly understand how Buddhist mantras work is to explore them for yourself.

4 Buddhist Mantras You Can Practice Today

Many of these mantras are thousands of years old but are practiced today with as much devotion as they were centuries ago. Here are four powerful Buddhist chants practiced around the world and their meanings:

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. He was the pure embodiment of Buddha’s 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, a famous Buddhist bodhisattva revered for his compassionate nature.

It 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.

buddhist mantras

How to Practice Buddhist Mantras?

Whenever you need to relax and calm the mind or increase focus and concentration, take a few minutes to practice Buddhist mantras. 

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Find a comfortable and peaceful place to practice, free from distractions.
  2. Begin by focusing your attention on your breathing, and taking a few slow, deep breaths.
  3. Choose a mantra that resonates with you and speaks to your current life situation.
  4. Repeat it in your mind or out loud. You can chant or sing it. 
  5. As you repeat the mantra, keep your intention and focus on the meaning of the words.
  6. When your mind begins to wander, gently bring your attention back to the mantra.
  7. When you finish, sit quietly for a few moments and reflect on your experience.

Practice for a few minutes each day and gradually increase the duration of your practice. You can incorporate it into your daily meditation or turn to the power of mantras whenever you need it.

man meditating on the roof with the city view

Cultivating Peace From Within

Whether you want to cultivate more peace and compassion in life or are deeply committed to the path of enlightenment, your journey is about taking small steps every day.

Most importantly, you don’t have to walk this path alone. Instead, you can join a community of like-minded people who share the same high virtues, values, and aspirations to live a life of service.

If that speaks to you, Mindvalley is the right place for you. Here, you can learn from spiritual teachers like:

  • Becoming More Loving with Gelong Thubten,
  • A Yogi’s Guide to Joy with Sadhguru
  • A Journey To Infinitheism with Mahatria
  • and many others.

You can sample classes of the Quests with them by unlocking your free access.

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Written by
Irina Yugay