Tuesday, 15 January 2013

In Praise of - The Mantra of Avalokiteshvara

Today I would like to talk a little about the effect of the Avalokiteshvara mantra (Om Mani Padme Hum or Om Mani Peme Hung) on my life. Before I start, I just want to state how glad I am to be able to really enjoy some good music (Tame Impala's new album just rules), together with a nice mango tea and the clarity of mind that only the straight edge mindset can provide. Sometimes I wonder, if I broke from the vegan straight edge lifestyle, would the way I feel about things change? It probably would, and I am definitely not about to change my whole life around anytime soon.

On to the main theme of this post and the benefits of the Avalokiteshvara mantra. It is true what they say: mantras are not just words; they actually embody the wisdom and the compassion of a Buddha and can really transmigrate powerful feelings of love, health, strength etc straight into the madness of our everyday lives. Same with this one -- Avalokiteshvara is not a he or a she (pictured as either according to different schools), it's not a person who lived and died in a country somewhere; it's more of a thought process and a notion of compassion that arises within our minds. Be sure though, that we can practice it and get real benefits from it because in essence, it does exist and it is available to help us.

It goes without saying that Om Mani Peme Hung is the most classic mantra in Buddhism. Each day it is recited by literally millions of people all over the globe. This in itself is something that astonishes me, to think that when I wake up in the morning and recite the mantra, someone in the Himalayas and someone in Japan and someone in Germany is doing the same. It makes me think of people who seek for something positive and we all together go for refuge at one place. I am sure that we all experience it in our own different ways, but in essence we all share the same wealth. It unites us under the umbrella of compassion, kindness and positivity -- and that's something truly great!

The way I do it is this: whenever I fell I need to deal with my negativity (because negativity and ignorance are indeed the sources of our problems), I go and inwardly recite Om Mani Peme Hung. The sound itself dwelling in my head eases my mind and transforms negativity, into good thoughts and compassion. How? I couldn't tell, but because it works, I do it. Some other times, I make a mental picture of Avalokiteshvara which on its own pacifies and soothes me (sometimes together with the mantra). Crazy as it may sound, both the mantra and the visualisation work miracles. This cannot be expressed through words. It's something you have to try it for yourself, but with TRUST. Without trust, even the greatest gift becomes unworthy and ignites second thoughts. So please try it of you're reading this!

I guess there is a lot of wisdom into religious patterns that we - as westerners - have developed a habit of ridiculing. I don't know what artistic geniuses envisioned and created the wonderful form of Avalokiteshvara, but somehow they managed to create something of value, something that has power to pacify the minds of people. Perhaps because it expresses all those good qualities. The same goes with the mantra. Perhaps (if you don't "believe") you can work with the fact that wise men carefully put together those words thousands of years ago. These were people who have thought a great deal about man's inherent tendencies, and practised a lot on what helps people on a subconscious level. So maybe these words somehow create an echo in our inner mechanisms. Or you can drop justification altogether and just embrace!

In the past, I have always tried to keep a good and positive mental state throughout the day but have failed like a champ... I always had the best of intentions, but in practice remaining positive and kind has never been easy. It's hard to stay posi when you wake up at 7am and have a long day ahead, or when things go terribly bad. Trouble comes, trouble goes -- it's how we deal with it. Avalokiteshvara, his mantra and many other Buddhist practices have helped me keep myself in check right when I need it the most: when I feel weak, alone, or out of place. These are trying times, things are changing fast for me and it is so good to have a constant and a friendly source of inspiration!

How wonderful!

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