Saturday, March 14, 2009
So earlier in the week, a few days before myself and two others were let go due to the lack of work for us to do– but after being told I was done, I was by myself in a section of the warehouse doing some pricing on hundreds of figurines of various types. The day before had been quite stressful as I was coming to grips that I wasn’t going to be there and yet almost everyone else was, despite lets say some differences in performance and attitude and such between myself and some of those who remained.
Anyways. I decided, actually scratch that. I didn’t decide. I just started to recite or chant quietly under my breath the Six Syllable Buddhist mantra “Om Mani Pedme Hung” now and then. Then I started to do that as I repackaged each figurine. Essentially using the figurines like the prayer or rosary beads to count. I think I probably said it over three or four hundred times during the course of the week by myself. The day doing it, I also worked most of the day solo - and felt I was suffering from laid off leprosy as no one was really talking to me or acknowledging me to a great extent. But this day I was glad to have the solitude and time to reflect in quiet contemplation. I told my friend Ryn that I thought I could be a Buddhist Monk after all that time alone as it didn't bother me at all. ;)
I found it calming to recite the mantra. It took my mind off my impending lack of employment and all that would mean. And then sitting in my car having lunch, I was reading a bit of Lama Surya Das’ 1997 book “Awakening the Buddha Within.” I looked up the mantra as I knew I had seen it referenced in there somewhere.
Lama Das translates the chant as “The jewel is in the lotus.” What it means, to paraphrase Lama Das, is that wisdom and compassion - the jewels that we all seek – are inherently within all of us like seeds blossoming and unfolding within our hearts. What we seek, we are. Lisa T. commented on my note on Facebook last week with the horoscope and how it seemed Buddhist. I guess that it did and it got me leaning back that way.
Lama Das goes on to say that you can translate mantras literally, but that they are chanted more for their conceptual energy vibrations than for their actual meaning. Like a deep gong, you feel it in your abdomen. Mantras have that same effect. The outer vibrations are sounds (obviously), and the inner vibrations are directed energy, attention and thought. In this mantra, Om is the universal sound. Mani means jewel, and Pedme means lotus. Together they mean 'the jewel is in the lotus'. Hung is the consort sound to Om and has no meaning but is for the completion of the vibrational tone. If you have ever been lucky enough to go to Tibet, you would hear this chant everywhere. Maybe you have seen it on TV on Discovery, OLN, or the Travel channel.
The mantra works for me. Really. As Lama Das says in his book. ‘Use it to soften, to ease and gentle your mind, energy and spirit. Use it to dissolve any hardness or constriction around your heart, to warm up and loosen your guy. Chant it again and again… Sense where you are, what you are, and who you are and can be. Let everything dissolve into that purring stream, that song repetitive sound of Great Compassion’s mantra: Om Mani Pedme Hung.
He wrote in the book that one of his teachers, Kalu Rinpoche, when visiting Boston in the 1970s went to the giant multi-story fish tank at the Aquarium at Boston Harbor. Kalu Rinpoche spent the afternoon tapping on the glass and getting the attention of the fish that swam by and blessed them with this Great Compassion Mantra. He was also know to bless a box of sand each morning when back home before spreading it on the hillside - with the intent that each grain of sand would ultimately come in contact with some living animals or plants and therefore they would be also the recipient of his blessing.
In hind sight, I suppose that the chanting (or blessing) I was doing while working on the figurines made by Susan Lordi – which were already named Love, Peace, Angel of Happiness, Father and Son, and so on - would perhaps be in turn conferred on those who purchased or received them as gifts.
Now, I am sure someone out there could pick apart what I just wrote for their inacuracies. I am not uber Buddhist but I find at times Buddhism speaks to me. I don’t really mind if you think I am around the bend a bit. I like the thought of what I did helping me (because it did) and perhaps others (because it could).
Though I do wonder if the chanting over figurines constituted unauthorized mis-use of company property. :)
** the chant can also be transliterated as "Om Mani Padma Hum" from the Sanskrit, or "Om Mani Peme Hung" or "Om Mani Paymay Hung" in Tibetan. More on it here at Dharma Haven.
*** On wikipedia there are alternate meanings and translations as well.
**** Makes me wonder as well if Padme, the term of affection Anakin had for Amidala was taken from this.
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Posted by Mike Wood at 13:12