Om Mani Peme Hum

Here is the full length rendition of the Mantra of Compassion – Om Mani Peme Hum. The literal version is “Om Mani Padme Hum” but it is usually chanted the other way. The energy of the mantra will be channeled to you, linking you up directly with Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, directly:

 

Tara Mantra

There are many videos on Tara Mantra on Youtube, but this one stands out for its very beautiful music setting. You see a girl sitting and meditating. On top of her head is Master Tsongkhapa. Deep in his heart is the Bodhisattva Tara, and deep inside her breast is the letter TAM, her seed syllable, surrounding by the ten syllables of her mantra – Om Tara Tuttare Ture Svaha. This the standard method of meditating on Tara. The idea is to visualize that one ultimately is identified with the Bodhisattva herself. What this means is that one accepts all the qualities of Tara into oneself, so that there is no distinction whatsoever between oneself and Tara. Or to put it another way, one does actually become Tara in one’s meditation. This does not mean that one is having an illusion or is becoming crazy, like a patient who thinks that he is Napoleon; but it means that the aim of the meditation is to acquaint the mind with Tara herself. To become one with Tara means that one is losing oneself —  one is letting go of one’s own ego and one’s own personality, and merges into something much larger. It is pure spirituality. After identifying oneself with Tara, it is necessary that the practitioner ends the session with the ‘dissolution’ or ‘completion’ stage, where one visualizes that Tara dissolves back into her seed syllable, and finally into empty space, and then one remains within the meditation in emptiness — no thought, no fabrication. The two stages of the meditation — the visualization and the completion stage — always complement each other and the meditation will not be complete without both of them.

 

Chant of 21 Taras

This video is a chant praising the twenty-one Taras by Her Eminence Jamyang Sakya. She is the wife of His Holiness Dagchen Rinpoche, one of the leaders of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. Tara comes to us in 21 forms, each of whom is dedicated to help eliminate the suffering of all beings.

 

Fearlessness

Going Beyond Fear In This Dark Age

A Dharma Talk with Bruno Nua

“The Buddha taught that the mark of an enlightened being is fearlessness. Someone who has gone beyond fear is free from all the obscurations and obstacles that prevent us from manifesting as buddhas and ultimately benefitting others.
Fearlessness is that which literally gives birth to a buddha. It is the Mother of all the buddhas.”
[from BUDDHA’S FAVOURITE WORDS, Bruno Tashi Rabjay]
FEAR
Dwelling in the realm of ego breeds delusion. Not resting in our true nature gives rise to a vicious cycle of attachment and aversion, which manifests as afflictive emotions. These come in many forms such as addiction and anger, but they all boil down to the same disturbing forces: I want … I don’t want.
Also known as Hope and Fear, the chaotic emotions that spring from our ego-clinging are the very things that make us suffer. If we could only cut through any one of them, the whole deluded house of cards would crumble and fall. Then we would be liberated forever and enlightenment would flow like a river.
For this reason, the Buddha taught that the mark of an enlightened being is fearlessness. Someone who has gone beyond fear is free from all the obscurations and obstacles that prevent us from manifesting as buddhas and ultimately benefitting others.
We are deeply afraid of so many things: fear of the unknown, fear of losing our minds. We are all but completely paralysed, not living to our full potential. This fear comes from our utter distrust of letting go and opening up – it is also a primal fear of the openness and the emptiness of our Buddha Nature.
In this light, the high point of the Heart Sutra is said to be the line:
There is no fear.
The full name of this sutra is The Heart of Transcendent Knowledge. By definition, it teaches that the key to full enlightenment is fearlessness. The whole theme of this particular sutra [Skt. Prajnaparamita Sutra] is Going Beyond. The preamble describes the Buddha Nature as being ‘beyond words, beyond thought, beyond description. Prajnaparamita … unborn, unceasing, with nature like the sky’. The essence of the sutra is its mantra:
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi suaha.
It is the perfect utterance of one who has already gone completely beyond all fear: Gone, gone, gone all the way over, completely gone over to the other shore. Fully awake, Yes.
The openness and contentment it describes is a total fearlessness that is egoless. Because of this earth-shattering breakthrough, one is freed up to focus on the ultimate welfare of others. Consequently, the Mahayana lineages call the Prajnaparamita the Mother of all the buddhas. Fearlessness is that which literally gives birth to a buddha. Tibetan Buddhism even goes so far as to depict the fearless mother of all the buddhas in female form as Tara.
In this way, we come to an understanding of the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. The core message is not about elaborate philosophical treatises. Nor is it even about depicting the Buddha Nature in one form or another. All this serves a much simpler purpose. They lead us to a basic truth: Through meditation practice, we can awaken and connect with our true nature. By developing an unshakable conviction in our primordial purity, our aim is to go beyond all philosophies, all images, all concepts. Then we become completely free to lead others out of their suffering.

About the author

Bruno is a Meditation Instructor, Dharma Educator, and a dabbler in the Creative Arts. He was born in 1965 in Dublin, Ireland where he later trained as a Philosophical Theologian at Trinity College. While still working as an educator in that area, Bruno encountered the heart of the Buddha’s teachings when he first met Sogyal Rinpoche in the early 1990s, which also quickly led to meeting Ringu Tulku Rinpoche and Thich Nhat Hanh.
Since then, while continuing to be a student of Buddhism, Bruno has taught meditation and presented the Buddha’s teachings in many Dharma centres, including Rigpa Dublin where he was Managing Director for some years. He has also engaged with presenting these teachings in prisons and hospices, education and training establishments, and in Non-Governmental Organisations dedicated to Caring in the Community.
He is the Founding Director of many pioneering projects such as Buddhist Network Ireland, Dublin International Buddhist Film Festival, Open Space and Lotus Temple, and has represented Irish Buddhists on the Inter-Religious Council of Ireland.
Nowadays, as well as teaching Meditation and various courses in Applied Mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism, Bruno is also very much committed to guest-lecturing a variety of programmes on Buddhism in Colleges and Universities.

Three Types of Compassion

When I was staying at the Khadiravana Center someone I had known before came to visit the Center and talked with me for a while. He was a student of Buddhism and used to translate a number of Tibetan Buddhist books. He had an interesting question which he told me many monks and scholars could not answer. It has to do with compassion and emptiness. Since everything is empty, that is, lacking in their inherent existence, when we have compassion, what exactly are we having the compassion for? If everything is empty, isn’t the thing for which we have compassion empty too? If it is empty, then wouldn’t our compassion be directed to an empty object, a compassion to nothing?

This is clearly a clever question, and it shows that someone who does not understand the Buddha’s teaching thoroughly could get mired in these conceptual web. Not that the Buddha himself planted these webs, but it seems that some of his followers created these webs for themselves because of their attachment and preconceptions.

In any case this question needs to be fully answered, and the answer is not an easy one. The question rests on a very fundamental tension in the Buddha’s own teaching – the tension between taking things as they appear, on the one hand, and seeing their ultimate nature as being empty through and through on the other. This tension lies at the heart of Buddhist teaching.

On the side of taking things as they appear, there certainly are beings who need compassion. They are suffering; there are innumerably many of them. They are beings in samsara. Clearly they are there as objects of the Buddha’s and bodhisattva’s and our own compassion.

On the other hand, things are empty of their inherent character. What this means is that things do not stay the same forever, and even at a moment when they are what they are, they are what they are only because of their being dependence of causes and conditions. These causes and conditions are no exception either; they depend on other causes and conditions too, and so on ad infinitum. In the end everything is what it is because of their dependent nature, which for Buddhists means that they are empty of their inherent character which would make them truly what they are without such dependency. Since this has no exception, any object of compassion, any suffering being, is ultimately empty too. So when we feel compassionate toward them, what exactly are we compassionate toward?

One way out of this is to treat things at two levels – that of ‘conventional’ truth and of ‘ultimate’ truth. This is the path Nagarjuna takes. In fact talking about levels is rather misleading, for in fact things do not present themselves in levels. They are one and the same things, but described differently. According to one way of describing, they are there as objects of reference and certainly of compassion, but according to the other description, they are empty. Since all things do not possess any essential properties from the beginning, there is no contradiction in the two descriptions.

However, there is another way of looking at this which is perhaps less philosophical. According to Deshung Rinpoche in The Three Levels of Spiritual Perception, when we practice compassion, we should do it with the realization that there are three types of compassion. We should always take into account all these three types whenever we feel compassionate toward other beings and practice compassion. The first type is the ordinary compassion we have toward other beings. The second type is the realization that these beings suffer because they are mired in avidya or fundamental ignorance. The third and most refined type is the realization that in ultimate reality there is no one to be compassionate to, no one who is being compassionate, and no such thing as compassion.

The trick is that the third type is classified as a kind of compassion. This neatly solves the problem that my friend asked me before. The tension between compassion and emptiness is only apparent and arises only if the first type is understood to be the only type. But when one takes into account the second and third types, then the tension dissolves, because the realization of emptiness is a kind of compassion too.

This needs to be unpacked. Buddhist teachers usually say that compassion and emptiness (or wisdom) are the two wings that enable a bird to fly. A bird cannot fly with only one wing, so one cannot attain Buddhahood with realization of either compassion or emptiness only. One needs both to attain Buddhahood. And a way to achieve this is suggested in Deshung Rinpoche’s teaching that the third type of compassion is just this realization of the wisdom of emptiness itself.

How is this so? It arises from the understanding that the truly genuine way for true compassion to arise in one’s mindstream is for one to achieve the wisdom of emptiness – the realization that ultimately all beings are of one nature. Furthermore, it also arises from the understanding that the only way the wisdom of emptiness to arise in one’s mindstream is for one to have genuine compassion toward other beings. When one has genuine compassion, the apparent boundary separating oneself from the world and every being breaks down, but that is just emptiness in action.

So in the end the two, compassion and emptiness, are one and the same. Thus the question I mentioned earlier arose only out of some misconception. But it is a very strong misconception. This is why the practice of compassion is so crucial in Mahayana Buddhism. Without it there will absolutely be no way toward Buddhahood.