Buddhist mantras are syllables and words chanted repetitively as part of a centering, consciousness-shifting practice. Their exact function can vary, but all have a goal of helping to inspire and invoke Enlightenment.

Chanting a mantra can assist in specific life concerns as well as offer a way to focus during meditation. It’s also believed that some mantras call forth helpful guides and energies to assist us on our path.

Video teaching: What is Buddhist Mantra and How Can it Help Me? — a short teaching from H.E. Zasep Rinpoche:

Here are seven examples of mantras to try in your own practice:

The Medicine Buddha Mantras

This mantra helps to bring about success in all areas of life, assisting in relieving suffering to pave the way for success, growth, happiness and Enlightenment:

“Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha Bekanze Radza Samudgate Soha”

Tayata: I now invoke
Om: The Universal sound
Bekanze Bekanze: Release the pain of illness
Maha Bekanze: Release the pain and darkness of delusion
Radza Samudgate: To achieve supreme spiritual heights
Soha: I offer this prayer to the Medicine Buddha

Lotus Sutra Mantra

This mantra is central to Nichiren Buddhism, which combines Buddhist teachings and wisdom from the Japanese teacher Nichiren Daishonin.

The mantra offers devotion to the Lotus Sutra, which teaches that everyone has the potential to become Enlightened:

“Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo”

Nam: I pledge devotion
Myo: To the perfection wondrous beyond conception
Ho: The Dharma
Renge: Of the Lotus Flower
Kyo: Teaching (Sutra)

Shakyamuni Mantra

Shakyamuni, also known as Siddhartha Gautama, refers to the historic Buddha. He embodies Buddha nature, and this mantra is an homage to this first Buddha.

The Shakyamuni Mantra has a goal of bringing forth the same Buddha nature that resides in us all.

“Om Muni Muni Mahamuni Shakyamuniye Svaha”

Om: I invoke the Universal sound, Buddha nature
Muni Muni: And the wise one, wise one
Mahamuni Shakyamuniye: Of the Shakyans
Svaha: Hail to thee!

The Avalokitesvara Mantra

Tibetan Buddhists chant this mantra as a prayer to invoke the blessings, power and benevolent attention of Chenrezig, or “compassion embodied.” This mantra focuses on both giving and receiving compassion.

It is often carved in stone where it can be seen by practicing Tibetan Buddhists.

“Om Mani Padme Hum”

Om: I invoke the Universal sound
Mani: The jewel, the goal of Enlightenment, love and compassion
Padme: Lotus wisdom
Hum: And a pure, indivisible unity of wisdom with practice

“Om Mani Padme Hum” is the most frequently used Mantra in Buddhism, the syllable “Om” represents body, spirit and the speech of Buddha; “Mani” is for the path of teaching; “Padme” for the wisdom of the path, and “hum” indicates to the union of wisdom and the path to it.

In various places in Tibet there are piles of stones with the inscription ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, the mantra for compassion and benevolence, on each stone.

Devout Buddhists coming upon these piles customarily walk around it clockwise, offer a prayer and then move on. While stupas, religious shrines, prayer wheels and Mani stones are to be walked around in a clockwise manner, it is tradition to walk counterclockwise around a Bon monastery.

Amitabha Mantra

This mantra means “To overcome all hindrances and obstacles.” It is said to protect the chanter from harm and help them to overcome obstacles standing in the way of Enlightenment.

One’s loving, compassionate nature is enhanced, and many blessings await those who chant this mantra.

“Om Ami Dewa Hrih”

Om: I invoke the Universal sound
Ami: Infinite, limitless light
Dewa: Deity, Buddha nature
Hrih: With conscientiousness and self-respect

Green Tara Mantra

This mantra helps the chanter to overcome physical, emotional, mental and relationship blocks. The Green Tara figure is called upon to offer assistance.

Below: A mantra of Tara, chanted by Yoko Dharma. Tara is the female Buddha, Mother of Buddhas, active compassion of Buddhism, remover of obstacles, affectionately known as “Mama Tara.”

The only thing required is for the chanter not to cling to any one outcome; the more detached and non-grasping we can be, the happier we become.

“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha”

Om: I invoke the Universal sound
Tare: And the Green Tara
Tuttare: To bring deliverance from suffering and delusion
Ture: Paving the way for compassion and Enlightenment
Soha: I offer this prayer to Green Tara

White Tara Mantra

This mantra is associated with longevity, good health and compassion.

It is often chanted with positive intentions for the good of someone else in mind.

“Om Tare Tuttare Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jnana Pustim Kuru Soha”

Om: I invoke the Universal sound
Tare: And the White Tara
Tuttare: To bring deliverance from suffering and delusion
Ture: And bring instead compassion and Enlightenment
Mama: To myself and to…
Ayuh: Long life and longevity
Punya: Merit from living life ethically and with good intention
Jnana: Wisdom
Pustim: Abundance, wealth and good things
Kuru: Like the auspicious land North of the Himalayas
Soha: I offer this prayer to White Tara

Sound Symbols

Mantras are often considered to be “sound” icons or symbols. In the same way we visualize a Buddha with our imaginations, or visual symbols, likewise we intone mantras  as audible triggers or symbols. Both visualization and mantras, from one point of view, help us connect to the Buddha within.

Mantras are much more than just symbols. The Sanskrit root of “mantra” is “manas” which means mind combined with “trai” which means to “set free from.” The literal definition of mantra is “set free the mind.” Some interpret “trai” as protect, which made mantras somewhat synonymous with mind protection (whether yours or divine).

Mantra also means “instrument of thought”

The best dictionary definition for mantra is “instrument of thought”, a concept that nicely connects with one of the main purposes of the sounds.

In both Buddhism and Hinduism, one of the many purposes of mantra is to aid in concentration, mindfulness and meditation. The repetition of a mantra — especially if intoned with rhythm in Sanskrit — is somewhat hypnotic, almost trance-inducing for some people.

One one hand, mantra focuses and helps us stay mindful and in the present. On the other, it shifts us into an “altered consciousness” where concepts, visualization and meditation becomes very effective for some people.

Meditation A Free Guide To Self Enlightenment

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Inspired With Life

Meditation and yoga have been a subject matter which I have been practicing on a daily basis for several years now.

I came about this through a life changing accident in New Zealand in 2010 this changed my way of thinking and has led me on the spiritual path.

You can read about my personal experience here >

Anyone can learn to connect with their soul if they put some time into the practice. This is something you can do in your own meditations but just be aware that it gets easier with practice and you will get better at it with meditative practice, so don’t be discouraged if you are not successful in the beginning of doing this. I wasn’t very effective in the beginning either. You start by getting in a good quiet state of meditation where you feel internally connected with your inner being.

Once you understand that your life at this moment is part of a much larger continuum than the few decades you will inhabit this body, you open yourself to the high calling and noble journey of cooperatively joining with your soul in its evolution.