Teachings on Chenrezig  HOME Mani Teachings


by Most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

January 1, 2015

Milarepa Retreat Center, Schneverdingen, Germany

Today I will say a few words on the mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG, what it means. First, historically, there was such an enlightened being called Chenrezig and there is a history and there were lots of events related to that. When it comes to the practical point, you yourself is Chenrezig because you have the Buddha nature. With the support of the historical Chenrezig, you yourself learn how to become Chenrezig or how to reveal your nature of Chenrezig. Therefore in this practice, first you become Chenrezig then you exercise all those meditation practices as described.

If you just talk about history outside of us, Chenrezig appeared on this planet and did this and that, and there are pictures that display Chenrezig’s different attributes. This becomes just history and it becomes a culture. There are some who believe in Chenrezig and there are some who do not. But here you have an opportunity, not just a history or a culture, but rather a special method, technique, instruction on how to reveal your inner qualities, which are obscured by all your delusions, so that you now can reveal your nature. It may take time, but eventually, if you follow this path, step by step with mindfulness, instead of hoping and having expectation to get something. Like cooking food, you put all the ingredients, different vegetables, oil and so on at the counter around the stove in the kitchen, but if you just sit there and think: now I have put all the things there, I hope it will come out a good dish. Even if you sit there the whole day, you cannot get any food. Similarly, you put all the texts and meditation practices that you have studied and you think: yes, I understood and now you expect to become Chenrezig. It will not happen. Instead, after putting all the ingredients together, you yourself cook – turn on the stove, put all the ingredients in the pan  and cook it. After you have cooked it, you will get something to eat. Likewise, first you have to understand all the ingredients then you practise it, exercise it, and then it comes alive. That is what is meant by practice, practice means practical approach.

With all the vegetables and ingredients put on the counter in the kitchen, and you have plans how to cook and how much and so on, but then if you do not cook, just sit and wait one day, two days, all the ingredients will become rotten. Then you threw them away and bring in new ones. Like that, you study the Dharma, read and understand it, but then if you do not practice, there is no benefit. Then you forget it and read again. So practice means to implement, use it and after using it get used to it, be one with it, with the Chenrezig practice. Then the Chenrezig within you appears and becomes obvious, the wisdom, the compassion, the bodhicitta become more obvious and more clear. When it is more obvious and more clear, then the other side, the negative obscurations would reduce; they are minimized step by step. That is how we get the benefit and that is why we need to practice, not as a culture.

Buddha is so skillful. As an illustration, Buddha met the mother whose child had died, instead of giving her the absolute method which was not possible for her to comprehend, Buddha gave instructions that she could handle and use. Then from thereon, when she got the benefit, she studied further and practised further. Then she realized everything as temporary because of impermanence, illusory nature. Then because of these things, she understood everything being interdependent, interconnected. Because of that, there is a space for emptiness, step by step. Then within emptiness, how everything functions inseparably. Like that, go step by step in that way. This is just a reminder.

Now, we come to the meaning of Chenrezig’s mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG.

First OM – composed of three letters, A-U-M, that is, Chenrezig’s wisdom body, wisdom speech and wisdom mind.  Most of  the  mantras start with OM because it describes that individual deity’s body, speech and mind.

MANI PADME – name of Chenrezig

MANI – ‘jewel’, wish-granting jewel which means great compassion, the relative bodhicitta

PADME – ‘lotus’ means unafflicted transcendent wisdom, absolute bodhicitta

The combination of relative and absolute bodhicitta is the nature of Chenrezig. This is Chenrezig’s name.

HUNG – we are communicating with or calling or beseeching Chenrezig – please give me the blessings of Chenrezig, the blessings of relative and absolute bodhicitta, may I become Chenrezig. HUNG can be used in many different ways for communication.

Historically, Chenrezig, before becoming an enlightened being, he saw the nature of the samsara as the state of suffering. Through his wisdom eye, he felt the deep sufferings of sentient beings, endless, one after another. The sufferings of sentient beings are so unbearable, but they have no choice. They scream, but keep suffering one after another. So seeing that nature, Chenrezig developed bodhicitta. May I become such an individual who can help the sentient beings to free from suffering so that they may have total peace and happiness. So started in that environment, Chenrezig developed bodhicitta step by step. During this whole process towards enlightenment, he aspired: even if somebody just sees my figure, may they be connected, may they be free from suffering and achieve enlightenment; even if somebody just hears my name, may that become a cause for these individuals to free from suffering and achieve enlightenment. With this kind of bodhicitta attitude, Chenrezig exercised and practised for countless eons. Because of this, OM MANI PADME HUNG becomes a universal mantra. As soon as you hear OM MANI PADME HUNG, even if they are not Buddhists, they know it is a symbol of peace, a symbol of harmlessness. That is because of Chenrezig’s practice.

Then the six syllables OM MANI PADME HUNG. Each syllable has its significance and meaning, what it does when we practice Chenrezig. First of all, it is important to be aware that when we do the practice, we have to do it with full attention, mindfulness with body, speech and mind. The body should be where your cushion/meditation seat is. Then the mind is with the body, not outside of that body, then chanting mantra with body, speech and mind together. If we have all the three together in one place, at one point, we may experience the beneficial effects described. Otherwise, our body is here and the mind goes to all different places, distracted and then your speech, mixing with the mantra and talking to people – OM MANI PADME HUNG, where are you going? OM MANI PADME HUNG, please have a cup of tea, OM MANI PADME HUNG…When body, speech and mind are all divided, then the beneficial power is also divided. The blessings are divided. There is not enough support to experience the beneficial effects that are described. Sometimes, you may wonder, it is said if you chant 600,000 Chenrezig mantras, you can have all these benefits; but you might have chanted for many years and you have not seen anything. So you have some doubts. You have to understand that that is because we have not organized, not synchronized the body, speech and mind – no co-emergence of these three.

I am not going through so much about bodhicitta, I suppose that you have all those understanding about relative and absolute bodhicitta. As I mentioned, this mantra is the consummate bodhicitta teaching. This mantra contains the complete teachings of the Buddha. So what we are going through is just touching a few places. Again to put emphasis on interdependence, interconnectedness – sometimes, we think that Chenrezig from the outside will do something for you if you just believe in Chenrezig and say some prayers. So Chenrezig is like a doer of things that will fulfill your needs. It is not that way. Chenrezig supports your own efforts, it is all interdependent. Like when you plant the seed on the ground, the ground itself is not enough to grow the seed. We need the ground as a basic support. We need also the seed, but that is also not sufficient to grow, we need fertilizer, water and good weather. When all these necessary things come together then the crop will grow. Like that, all the necessary things – outer, inner and in-between support – all work together. The farmer knows which kind of weather, soil, time, tools, whatever it needs to plant the seed; otherwise, if the farmer just goes somewhere and throws some seeds, then just sits there hoping that the crops will grow since he has thrown the seeds there. It will not grow anything, all the seeds are wasted. If he knows what kind of ground, time in the year and all things necessary, then he throws the seeds on the ground and fertilizes the ground and water the ground (neither too much nor too little), like that all together, this is called interdependent.

To purify our mental afflictions - ignorance, greed, attachment, anger, pride and jealousy, we need to look at our mind and see what comes in our mind. As soon as any one of these comes in our mind, it takes our attention. They are like the driver and we follow them. Then we collect all the causes of suffering on the way. Look at them, these need to be purified. If you want real peace and happiness, these are all mental exercises.

There are six realms of samsara. The six realms are not designed or created by Buddhas. But these six realms are the creation of our mental afflictions. There are different texts that explained this differently. Some texts say the six syllables OM MANI PADME HUNG in which OM purifies ignorance while other texts say OM purifies pride. So there are different explanations, not just one. Here, we go this way. By reciting OM MANI PADME HUNG mantra, it purifies the six mental afflictions. OM purifies pride; MA purifies jealousy/envy; NI purifies desire; PAD purifies ignorance; ME purifies greed; HUNG purifies anger/hatred. When we chant the mantra, we have to focus our mind. We have to purify whatever negative afflictions come in our mind. When you purify these mental afflictions, it becomes the special technique to close the doors to be reborn in the six realms.

OM - Since the gods are well-off in the six realms, they have pride. By purifying pride, the door to be reborn in the god realm is closed.

MA – Demi-gods are jealous /envious of gods. When jealousy is purified, the door to be reborn to demi-god realm is closed.

NI – Human beings have stronger desire/attachment to the objects of the five senses fields. When desire is purified, the door to be reborn in human realm is closed.

PAD – Animals are stupid. When ignorance is purified, the door to be reborn in animal realm is closed.

ME – Hungry spirits are always hungry. Even though they have enough, they feel that they do not have enough and they are looking for food all the time. When greed is purified, the door to be reborn in hungry spirit realm is closed.

HUNG – Beings in the hell realm are mostly anger and hatred, destructive mind. When that is purified, it closes the door to be reborn in the hell realm.

The reason why we study the suffering of the six realms and the disadvantages that individuals have in these six realms, is because it gives us opportunity not to attach to any of the six realms. Otherwise, one time when I gave a talk about the suffering of the animals, one man went through a lot of problems in his mind. He really admired cats and dogs. He thought that cat sat the whole day on the cushion and dog was so well-feed and looked so peaceful and happy. He said that they were much better than us. He was really desperate out of his great sufferings. But just look at human beings, we have so many methods, so many resources to end the problems; but cats and dogs do not have that. They are under the sympathy of human beings who take care of them. When the human beings are not good, I doubt if cats and dogs can survive so much. But when one suffers so much, one does not know what to do. One may feel these things. But at the same time, if we open the heart and look around, how many opportunities we have especially when we engage in the Dharma. When we study these things, reflect on these things, we will see that even though we may have more sufferings than cats and dogs, we are much better off since cats and dogs do not have that much resources. They survive under the mercy of human hands but we have so much. Look at that. Then utilize the abilities and possibilities that we have and we should energize ourselves and develop our mental strength. Then we really appreciate precious human life. Otherwise in the negative dimension, human beings are most destructive in the world; we just conquer and destroy everywhere, cats and dogs cannot do so much.

When we purify these six mental afflictions through the practice of the six syllables, these six mental afflictions are replaced by the six wisdoms, and the six realms become the six Dhyani Buddha families’ Purelands.

OM – wisdom of equanimity (Budda Ratnasambhava family)

MA – wisdom of activity (Buddha Amoghasiddhi family) 

NI – primodial wisdom (Buddha Vajradhara family)

PAD – wisdom of dharmadatu (Buddha Vairochana family)

ME – discriminating wisdom (Buddha Amitabha family)

HUNG - mirror-like wisdom (Buddha Akshobhya family)

By actualizing these six wisdoms, one attains the six Buddha families. This is how we purify our mental afflictions and replace them by these wisdoms which cause us to attain Buddhahood. It is important to know that even though Buddha Ratnasambhava has equanimity wisdom equalizing one with others when one has more pride, we may think that Buddha Ratnasambhava only has that wisdom, but actually, each Buddha has all the wisdoms. Buddha Ratnasambhava has wisdom of equanimity, wisdom of activity, primordial wisdom, wisdom of dharmadatu, discriminating wisdom and mirror-like wisdom. Likewise, Buddha Amoghasiddhi, Vajradhara, Vairochana, Amitabha and Akshobhya, each Buddha has all the six wisdoms. We should understand that. The reason why it is said that this Buddha has this wisdom in this family is that, by understanding the differences clarifies to us what each wisdom means. But overall, all the Buddhas, for example, Chenrezig have all the excellent qualities and wisdoms.

Through this six-syllable practice, it allows us to perfect the practice of the six paramitas. Paramita is a Sanskrit word which means go beyond. Go beyond means that right now we are in the duality state - hope and fear, hope for peace and happiness and fear of suffering. We are just dwelling within this dualistic state. So to go from there to the other side is called paramita. Through this practice of OM MANI PADME HUNG, we look at the mind. When your mind is with Chenrezig, inseparable of appearance and emptiness, in nature of compassion, you see that the entire samsara is constituted within the framework of causality, but sentient beings are suffering so much without this understanding. There was no one who showed them that this was the right thing to do and that was the thing to avoid. Your awareness on this causality and your compassion are so powerful. Upon seeing the reality nature of samsara, you desire sentient beings to be free from suffering and there is no reservation. You really want to help them sincerely, there is nothing to gain or achieve for you. Simply just want to utilize yourself to help others. That practice is called generosity. You do it joyfully. I am so happy. I am so lucky. I want to do this. I want to help. That is the practice of generosity. There is no reservation. Because of this, your mind is pure. All the negativities of the mind have no place; this is called morality or moral ethics. Because your compassion and wisdom are so powerful, you see everything as illusory nature. That is patience as you have no fear, being fearless. Within that, whatever you are doing or practicing, you appreciate so much. I am so fortunate and I wish all sentient beings can follow this path. Not because I am a Buddhist, but because all sentient beings desire to be freed from suffering and all desire to have peace and happiness.  This is the way/the path to follow. You enjoy your practice and this is called perseverance. There is no fear, no doubt. There is one-pointed mind with confidence. You do it unwaveringly since you know it. You know it not through your belief, but through your understanding. That is samadhi – one-pointed mind that cannot be shaken by any means. It is indestructible state of mind. You understand and aware of all the causality being interdependent, nothing stands independently. All are of illusory nature, nothing but manifestation. No independent self exists. All just manifest and dissolve. This is discriminating wisdom. These practices are called paramitas. You can go beyond from dualistic state of hope and fear to where there is nothing to hope and nothing to fear. This is the meaning of the six syllable mantra.

Time flies. Today is New Year, so this is a special gift for your New Year. You start from today and follow the rest of the year with this kind of mindfulness and practice. Do not throw this wisdom into the trash bin. Keep it in your wallet of wisdom. Now, we chant a few times OM MANI PADME HUNG and then dedicate.

Bodhicitta, the excellent and precious mind,

Where it is unborn, may it arise;

Where it is born, may it not decline;

But ever increase higher and higher.


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May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,
that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;
May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,
and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth
and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;

Last updated on 2015-10-06.