It is important to reflect on bodhicitta while chanting Om Mani Padme Hum

His Holiness the Dalai Lama took part in the Mani Dhungdrub, in the main Tibetan temple, on May 11, 2024. (Photo: TPI)

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Dharamshala — His Holiness the Dalai Lama took part in the Mani Dhungdrub, the recitation of Om mani padmé hum, in the main Tibetan temple on Saturday and said: "Reciting the six-syllable mantra (Om Mani Padmé Hum) is very useful, but the most important thing is to reflect on the altruistic awakening mind of bodhichitta and try to gain an understanding of emptiness. This is what will really please Avalokiteshvara."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, visited TsuklangKhang, the main Tibetan temple, from his residence on May 11, 2024, to join the monks, nuns and Tibetans from Dharamshala and the Himalayan community who gather in the temple to recite the ‘mani’ mantras - Om mani padmé hunm - several million times over the course of a week, known in Tibetan as the ‘Mani Dhungdrub’. This event regularly takes place during the first days of Saga Dawa, the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Shakyamuni Buddha.

His Holiness took his seat, flanked by the Abbot and Lobpön of Namgyal Monastery, facing the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni and the sandalwood statue of Avalokiteshvara known as the Kyirong Jowo or Wati Sangpo. This is one of three celebrated statues in the presence of which the Great Fifth Dalai Lama undertook an Avalokiteshvara retreat. During the retreat he reputedly saw King Songtsen Gampo emerge from the heart of this Wati Sangpo statue.

After taking part in the ‘Mani’ recitation His Holiness briefly addressed the congregation and he said: “Today, people from all walks of life have gathered here to recite the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara—Om mani padmé hung. He is the supreme deity of compassion and he is Tibet’s patron deity. Everyone, laypeople and monastics, can recite his mantra. Everyone can do that easily."

“I have vivid dreams of the 1000-armed Chenrezig. There is great purpose in reciting the six-syllable mantra, but what is most important is to reflect on the altruistic awakening mind of bodhichitta and to try to gain insight into emptiness. This is what will really please Chenrezig. Simply parroting the mantra, reciting it mechanically without any thought of bodhichitta and emptiness, will not please him," the Tibetabn spiritual leader explained.

“Avalokiteshvara has a special responsibility to inspire the people of Tibet and the Himalayan region. If you do your best to cultivate bodhichitta and insight into emptiness, over a period of months and years you’ll see your experience of them will deepen. I cultivate these principles myself and find they really do me good," he added.

His Holiness said, “Today I urge all of you, monastics and laypeople, to cultivate a good heart, to be kind, whether you believe in religion or not, and to avoid malicious thoughts and greed. You can do this; it’s something relevant to each and every one of us."

“The more we reflect on the awakening mind of bodhichitta and the more we cultivate an understanding of emptiness, the more joyful will be the expression on Wati Sangpo’s face. On the other hand, even if we visualize magnificent wrathful deities with three faces and six hands, there is no guarantee that we will make Wati Sangpo happier. What will make him happy is your doing your best to cultivate the awakening mind and an understanding of emptiness. If you have a kind heart and you help others, it will definitely induce Wati Sangpo to show his cheerful face to you," he mentioned.

“Since I have been given the title “Dalai Lama” I try to fulfil the wishes and aspirations of Wati Sangpo. We all have connections with him that continue from life to life. This is why I cultivate bodhichitta and the wisdom understanding emptiness and teach them to my Dharma friends as well. What’s more, I advise people all over the world, even if they have no religious faith, to be kind and compassionate. Today, there are people who, although they had no interest in Buddhism before, now generate an altruistic attitude and meditate on compassion. These are a blessings of Avalokiteshvara and I will continue to serve him to the best of my ability," the Spiritual leader of Tibet declared.

“Buddhism is not a matter of mere faith, it teaches many things for us to think about, which is very important. Therefore, I pray to Wati Sangpo to bless us all, Tibetans and other human beings, who seek peace of mind. There are several billion people in this world, who, whether they are religious or not, try to be warm-hearted in their relations with each other. I request Wati Sangpo to remember them and bless them all," His Holiness the Dalai Lama concluded.