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To generate peace, wisdom, love and compassionA "mantra" is a sacred utterance, a prayer, a celebration, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or group of words in mostly in Sanskrit or Tibetan that have psychological and spiritual powers. Sanskrit and Tibetan represent two of the world's first languages and describe the technology of how to become more fully human.
Most people are content with the peace of mind that comes from repeating these phrases but to get more out of them, it helps to know more of the actual meaning so that you set your mind on a journey for the truth of life and these mantras have nothing to do with the common conception of prayer.
Within Buddhism there are hundreds of deities and each has its own attributes including mantra to help individuals overcome the limitations associated with being human and moving towards self-realisation. So often people cry "I'm only human" in the sense that being human is a weakness and a fallibility. Mantra is one of the tools to help transcend the fallibility of being only human to become ecstatically and powerfully human.
There are a great many different interpretations as to the meaning of these mantras so if you go searching for various meanings take what feels relevant for you. To benefit, sit somewhere quiet, play the videos below and contemplate the general meaning as you try to sing along.
The Om Mani Padme Hum mantra associated with the Mahayana bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
The name Avalokitesvara means something like "the Lord who looks on the World with loving compassion" and is active in relieving the suffering of all sentient beings. In China Avalokitesvara is more usually represented as a beautiful white robed woman and known as Kwan Yin.
The mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" often associated with him can be roughly translated as "hail to the jewel in the lotus representing the source of creation, supreme wisdom, peace of mind and happiness.
Mantra: Om Mani Padme Hum - more detail
This mantra helps eliminate the root cause of suffering, the afflictions of attachment, hatred, jealousy, desire, greed and ignorance.
Mantra: Tayata Om Bekanze Bekanze Maha BeKanze Radza Samudgate Soha
Tibetans usually think of Tara as having 21 manifestations, as she does in the common Tibetan Buddhist prayer. In Praise of the 21 Taras. In each form she takes a different colour like Blue Tara and Black Tara and offers a different energy or virtue to help us on our spiritual paths.
Green Tārā is known as a saviouress, a heavenly deity who hears the cries of beings experiencing misery in samsāra. She is the holy mother, the mother of mothers and the wisdom of mothers, and as such, reciting her mantra is to desire that wisdom but also to be willing to surrender what no longer serves your own happiness and the happiness of your fellow man.
Mantra: Om tāre tuttāre ture svāhā.
White Tara Mantra
White Tara (Sitatara) is associated with long life. Her mantra is often chanted with a particular person in mind. She's another representation of compassion, and she's pictured as being endowed with seven eyes (look at the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and her forehead) to symbolize the watchfulness of the compassionate mind.
Mantra: OM Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuh Punya Jñānā Pustim Kuru Svāhā
In simpler terms, Vajrapani is the holy mother representing the perfection of wisdom on a bad day. Like a mother who uses controlled anger to keep her children from harm, using the Vajrapani mantra with awareness can help you to root out your weaknesses, maintain your focus and positive direction in life.
Mantra: Om Vajrapani Hum