Chanting the Chenrezig Mantra





Chanting the Chenrezig mantra, oṃ mani padme hūṃ, will help us develop such compassion leading to enlightenment. This is because Chenrezig is the deity embodying all the buddhas’ compassion. For this reason it is the wish-fulfilling mantra. Without any sense of discrimination we recite it for all sentient beings’ temporal and ultimate happiness including their attainment of full enlightenment. We do this toward them. Each is equally the object of our compassion and we work for every single one. Not only are our own personal problems solved and personal happiness achieved but, in the longer term, we are able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of saṃsāric suffering. More immediately, we cause them to have happiness now.

Our life’s purpose is not just to have wealth or be well known or even famous. Nor is it just to have a good education and be a scholar. If we approach Buddhism as just an intellectual understanding, or an isolated study pursuit, it does not make our life meaningful. What articulates the essence of Buddhism is the commitment to have compassion for each and every single sentient being, irrespective of religion, color, nationality, race and so forth, and without leaving out a single sentient being of any kind. Wherever we find a sentient being who is obscured and suffering, there is our compassion. Only this makes our life meaningful. It is just as the great bodhisattva Śāntideva mentioned—just reading a medical prescription does not cure a sickness.[1] Nor does carrying a huge load of medicines on your back, or storing them in your house without actually taking them. You have to take it. The essence is putting it into active practice. Even in the case of a great scholar able to explain the entire teachings of the Buddha including the huge collections of the Kangyur and Tengyur[2] as well as commentaries to them by the great pandits and lamas of the four traditions, and even in the case of someone who can recite everything by heart, without actual practice, there will still be suffering. Emotional problems will arise. Pride, anger and attachment present in you before you learnt and memorized everything will still be there after you have achieved that feat. Problems will not have undergone any change or maybe, due to pride, they will even have become even bigger and worse.


Avalokiteśvara Padmapåni (Tib.: Phyag na padmo) Tibetan Brass Traditions; 12th/13th century. Published: von Schroeder, Ulrich. 2009. The Jokhang Bronzes, in Jokhang –Tibet’s Most Sacred Buddhist Temple, edited by Gyurme Dorje; Part 4, Pl. 2D.

Without meditation, without Dharma, no matter how much wealth one achieves, even if one becomes a millionaire, a billionaire, trillionaire or zillionaire, then only more dissatisfaction arrives. More mental suffering develops. One’s heart is always hollow. Empty. There is always something missing no matter how much is externally gained. You may take refuge in alcohol but due to your reliance you can’t even eat food because so many bottles are being drunk each day. This is how living with alcohol leads to depression. With no other means realized, or relied upon, alcohol becomes the sole prop. Spent entirely like that, our life is totally without benefit to ourselves. Nor does it have benefit for others in the world. We destroy our life while others are harmed.

While on a plane I watched a film about a very wealthy man in London who had a huge property. He could never find satisfaction. So miserable. So unhappy. Thinking that the cars he had been selling were not just the root of his business wealth but also the source of his problems, he ordered his bodyguard to buy many small model toy cars.

toy bin cars cropped

Putting them into a concrete birdbath in the garden, he poured kerosene over them and burnt them! Maybe this was an antidote to his problems! Apparently he moved to a different room of his house each night. Never did he stay in the same room two nights in a row. His suffering is the same as the man of the year on the cover of Time magazine. Despite being on the cover, the article inside talks not only about his success but also his inner problems and how his life is filled with fear and worry. Without Dharma and meditation practice in our life this is what happens. Without developing a good heart and compassion this is what happens. Even if everybody in the world, due to your reputation and appearances on TV, knows your name, it is the same. Singers and actors commit suicide for this reason. This is also why so many educated people kill themselves. If wealth and fame were sources of happiness then the more extensive they are, that much wider and wider should be their happiness. Instead, when in this situation there is fear that you will lose your position.

But in our daily life the meaning and purpose of our life is achieved whether we are able to benefit many sentient beings, or just one. Why? Because compassion does not allow you to harm others. Its effect is opposite: you stop harming them. Numberless sentient beings come to only receive peace and happiness from you. However, more than just nonharming is gained. Due to developing compassion your wisdom is developed. In dependence upon this you can guide them toward not just liberation from saṃsāra, but full enlightenment. From you they receive the cessation of all mistakes and all the qualities of realization. All this depends on your compassion. So the entire situation depends upon you. Each of us has full responsibility for each and every hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human being, sura, asura and intermediate state being. Their happiness, up to enlightenment, depends upon us. How? Because if you—as one person—do not generate compassion toward others who are numberless, then numberless hell beings, hungry hosts, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate beings don’t receive from you this happiness, extending from right now up to full enlightenment. Universal responsibility means each of us taking on responsibility for the happiness of all beings. Therefore we should meditate on universal responsibility and just keep our mind (stabilized) upon it.


Full publication details of cited texts are found in the bibliography

[1] Writes Śāntideva,

Therefore, having thought about this well,
I should try to put these precepts into practice just as they have been explained.
If the doctor’s instructions are ignored,
How will a patient in need of cure be healed by his medicines?

Guide, ch. 4, v. 48.

[2] The Kangyur (Bka’’gyur), or translated sacred scriptures, consists of 108 volumes of the spoken word of the Buddha; the Tengyur (Bstan ’gyur), or translated treatises, consists of 224 volumes and covers a wide range of assembled commentarial material, including that of the great Nalanda masters.


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