Chenrezig and the Chenrezig Mantra
Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion
and the protective deity of Tibet.
(Chenrezig is the simplified phonetic transcription of the Tibetan word Avalokiteshvara.)
Avalokiteshvara is the earthly manifestation of the self born, eternal Buddha, Amitabha. He guards this world in the interval between the historical Shakyamuni Buddha, and the next Buddha of the future, Maitreya.
According to legend, Chenrezig made a vow that he would not rest until he had liberated all the beings in all the realms of suffering. After working diligently at this task for a very long time, he looked out and realized the immense number of suffering beings yet to be saved. Seeing this, he became despondent and his head split into thousands of pieces. Amitabha Buddha put the pieces back together as a body with very many arms and many heads, so that Chenrezig could work with myriad beings all at the same time. Sometimes Chenrezig is visualized with eleven heads, and a thousand arms fanned out around him.
Chenrezig is possibly the most popular of all Buddhist deities, except for Buddha himself – he is beloved throughout the Buddhist world. He is known by different names in different lands: as Avalokiteshvara in the ancient Sanskrit language of India, as Kuan-yin in China, as Kannon in Japan, as Chenrezig in most western countries.
As Chenrezig, he is considered the patron Bodhisattva of Tibet, and his meditation is practiced in all the great lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th Dalai Lama, considered to be a living Buddha, is also believed to be an emanation of Chenrezig.
Listen to the Mantra as you read:
The Chenrezig Mantra (also known as the Mani Mantra) is the most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, and open to anyone who feels inspired to practice it.
The six syllables cannot really be translated into a simple phrase or sentence; they perfect the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattvas.
The mantra is easy to say yet very powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire Buddha teaching.
When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and 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, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.
So, in this way, recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra offers the distilled essence of the compassion of all the Buddhas. They tell us it will do so whether we say it, hear it, see its written form, stand near a prayer wheel or walk around it, or merely think of the mantra in any form at all.
Traditional Colours of the printed Mantra:
OM is WHITE, MA is GREEN, NI is YELLOW, PAD is BLUE, ME is RED, HUM is BLACK or DARK BLUE.
The Mantra is on all Prayer Wheels, including the Buddha House Prayer Wheel.
Read HERE an excerpt from a lecture given by His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama at the Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center, New Jersey, about the Chenrezig Mantra.
His Holiness concludes his discussion with this synopsis: “Thus the six syllables, Om Mani Padme Hum, mean that in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.”