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Traditional Mala Uses
Prayer beads have already been utilized for centuries as a devotion and meditation tool. An intention, prayer or mantra is recited for each one of the beads. Many religions have some kind of sacred prayer bead, Christianity-rosary, Hindu-jappa, Islam-subhah, and Buddhist-mala. We, at Sakura Designs feature Buddhist malas, and are Buddhist and Yoga practitioners. We use them with our daily mantra practice, and wear mala bracelets every day!
There are lots of traditions surrounding the usage of prayer beads. The kind of material the beads are produced from, symbols carved or painted to them, the amount of beads, the way they are used, and what religion they may be from. We have seen references suggest that Buddhism was the first one to use beads as to calm and stabilize the mind meditation and evoke devotion and compassion. Within the West, western Buddhists are forming their very own new traditions evolving from the Eastern traditions. The significance of mantra practices are kept, and malas are being integrated into modern western culture. This article will offer suggestions to use your mala to “create inner calmness” on the path or inner awakening.
The Mani Mantra
The teachings of the Buddha are the ultimate “grass roots” peace movement. He taught that peaceful minds lead to peaceful speech and peaceful actions. The very basis of (the heart of the second cycle of Buddhist Teachings) Mahayana Buddhism finds its roots in compassion for all beings who may experience suffering. It is the simple realization that all beings are essentially members of our family and that harm to one is harm to all.
Om Mani Padme Hum (Hri), the mantra of compassion, is the primary mantra that was used in prayer wheels in Tibet since the 7th century. As a result, prayer wheels were known as Mani Wheels. Not only was this mantra used in prayer wheels, it was chanted continuously as a kind of national slogan, carved in rocks at the sides of the roads and paths through the Himalayas, and incorporated into the mindscape of the people as a fundamental principle of life. It can be chanted with any mala.
To start your mantra practice, first, light a candle and then sit down with your
The mala should be held with the left hand, and you start your recitation at the first bead after the guru bead. The Mani Mantra is the Sanskrit mantra of Avolokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It is as follows: OM MANI PADME HUM, which literally translates as “Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus.” It transliterates to: ohm manee padmae hoom. It is considered to be the sacred six syllables. A Buddhist, in their heart while reciting the Mani Mantra,will hold the feeling, “please let my recitation of this mantra help to liberate the suffering and confusion that we all experience in this life.”
You start your
recitation at the first bead after the guru bead. The guru bead is not
counted. Mantra meditation is the practice of a word or phrase that you
repeat. They are often sanskrit in the Buddhist and Yogic traditions.
You can also use an affirmation, like the word “calm” or a healing
phrase like “I love myself.”
The Mani Mantra is the most common Mahayana Buddhist Mantra, that is open for all to chant as a compliment to meditation practice. In Tibetan culture, it is common to see laypeople walking on the street, reciting the mani mantra, semi-audibly. Other mantras and meditation practices should be personally given to you by a Buddhist or Hindu teacher, and should not be recited without instruction. In general, the more ritualized or Tantric Buddhist practices come as an extension of a relationship with a teacher, and are not public. Mantras can be very powerful tools and a personal relationship with a formal teacher and or Sangha (meditation community) is always recommended.
The mind, after time, becomes more controlled and still. Buddhist style meditation helps to break habitual patterns, and become more compassionate, selfless and enlightened beings. The Mani Mantra with the six syllables, correspond the each of these six classes of beings, and when it is recited, and should be done so semi audibly, it is believed to have the power to remove the suffering of all classes of beings.
A Buddhist, in their heart while reciting the Mani Mantra, will hold the feeling, “please let my recitation of this mantra help to liberate the suffering and confusion that we all experience in this life.” In turn, by having this proper motivation, one can bring about qualities of being mentally clear, self rested and compassionate.
Another open mantra is called the Green Tara Mantra: