20 May 2010

Random Mantras on the Internet

I get a lot of questions about mantras. They fall into a few different categories. One is the person who wants a "translation" of a mantra so they can understand what it "means", with the implication that they want to take up, or have already taken up, the practice of chanting the mantra without a teacher or guide.
In my opinion a mantra on its own is not much good. A magic spell has 'power' whether you understand it or not. I don't think mantras are like this. Just finding a mantra on the internet and chanting it is of doubtful benefit. If you absolutely must do it, then go for something simple with lot's written about it by a range of well known and well qualified people. You are not so special, or in such a unique situation, that the oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ mantra won't suit you fine.

If you don't feel you understand a mantra then don't use it. If there is no one you can ask about it, face to face, then it's probably not the practice for you. Translating a mantra often just trivialises it, and misses the point. Find a teacher. If there are no Buddhists in your area then try http://www.wildmind.org/.

My website is a resource for practitioners and I don't recommend using it as a sweet shop for collecting mantras, or for choosing mantras at random. I think all Buddhist practices require regular contact with more experienced practitioners.

Don't cheat yourself. 
Mantras are not magic spells. 
Find a teacher. 
This is my advice.

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