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203 Om Mani Padme Hum in Daoist Revision STEVE JACKOWICZ Daoist and Buddhist techniques have cross‑fertilized each other for al‑ most two millennia. The Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is an ubiquitous element of Buddhist practice, and has an widespread use in Daoism. In the summer of 2012 in Sichuan, China at the Palace of the Heavenly Dragon (Tianlong gong), I was able to receive instruction on a Daoist form of the mantra which mapped the resonances to specific areas of the body. This practice was the core of one of the nun’s daily regimen. This version of the practice epitomizes the process of hybridization of Buddhist to Daoist practice, as well as demonstration of a kataphatic ap‑ proach, somaticization of spiritual states, and cosmicization. The Practice The practice itself is simple. The mantra is repeated while in a seated po‑ sition. Upon observation the practitioner is seen to chant and to sway with the syllables of the chant as they are repeated. The cadence repeats and increases in speed until, after an indeterminate number of repeti‑ tions, the practitioner intones the last syllable and then sits in meditation. Although the outer appearance resembles many other types of chanting practice, there is an ornate inner visualization that accompanies the chant, as well as requisite technical components of the intonation of the mantra that are considered vital to the eliciting of the correct cosmic en‑ ergy (qi) and achieving potency in the technique. The practitioner needs to be able to intone the syllables correctly according to the lineage technique. Instead of a labial pronunciation, the tone is deep and resonant and loses some of its distinction in sound be‑ 204 / Journal of Daoist Studies 6 (2013) coming more of a deep pulsing note. The advice from the initiates was that the body needs to shake with the sound as if a bell echoing to eter‑ nity that was sounded by the Goddess Guanyin herself. The inner visualization begins with the practitioner sitting and calming his mind dispelling any negative thoughts or emotions. Then he looks inside seeing the Goddess Guanyin reflected in his heart as if in a calm and still pristine lake. The practitioner then feels the heart resonate the syllable en. The attention shifts to the area just beyond the left upper arm, where the practitioner feels the syllable ma resonate. Next the prac‑ titioner resonates the syllable ni feeling it in the area directly above the crown of the skull. The practitioner then feels the resonance of the sylla‑ ble ba next to the right upper arm. Next the practitioner feels the syllable mi resonate in the lower abdomen. Finally the syllable hong is felt reso‑ nating throughout the body expanding to the limits of the universe. The cycle is repeated as many times as the practitioner feels is needed to ex‑ perience a transcendent expansion of cosmic force (qi). The practice is then followed with a period of quiet meditation. Historical Origins Om Mani Padme Hum goes back to the Karandavyāūha Sutra (Foshuo dacheng zhuangyan baoyu jing 佛說大乘莊嚴寶玉經, T. 1050), a Mahayāna Buddhist text that originated in the late fourth or early fifth century CE. The sutra describes the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokiteśvara, as the highest of the Buddhist iśvara (divine lords) and as the originator of many deities. Avalokiteśvara is described in this sutra as being higher than the Buddha himself. The mantra is presented as a means to enlight‑ enment embodying the nature of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Om Mani Padme Hum, then, is both the paramardāya, or ʹinnermost heartʹ, of Avalokiteśvara.... It is also... a mahāvidya, a mantra capable of bringing about the ʹgreat knowledgeʹ of enlightenment itself” (Studholme 2002). The mantra’s meaning is not clear. Om is the resonant sound at the core of the universe. The sound has no phonemic translation. Mani padme means “jewel lotus,” which can be read as a “be‑jeweled lotus” or a jewel in the heart of the lotus. The term may refer to the Bodhisattva of Com‑ passion. Hum is another mantric sound that has no translation. Jackowicz, “Om Mani Padme Hum” / 205 The Karendavy...


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pp. 203-210
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