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The Great Compassion Mantra (Da Bei Zhou / 大悲咒)

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 Benefits in reciting and holding the Great Compassion Mantra (Da Bei Zhou / 大悲咒)

Excerpts from The Dharani Sutra
English translation by the Buddhist Text Translation Society, Dharma Realm Buddhist University, USA

If humans and gods recite and hold the phrases of the Great Compassion Mantra, then when they approach the end of life, all the Buddhas of the ten directions will come to take them by the hand to rebirth in whatever Buddhaland they wish, according to their desire.

Should any living beings who recites and holds the spiritual mantra of Great Compassion fall into the three evil paths, I vow not to realise the right enlightenment. Should any living being who recites and holds the spiritual mantra of Great Compassion not be reborn in any Buddhaland, I vow not to realise the right enlightenment. Should any living being who recites and holds the spiritual mantra of Great Compassion not obtain unlimited samadhis and eloquence, I vow not to realise the right enlightenment. Should any living being who recites and holds the spiritual mantra of Great Compassion not obtain the fruits of whatever is sought in this very life, then he cannot have been making proper use of the Dharani of the Great Compassion Heart.

People and gods who recite and hold the Great Compassion Mantra will obtain fifteen kinds of good birth and will not suffer fifteen kinds of bad death.

The bad deaths are:

    They will not die of starvation or privation.
    They will not die from having been yoked, imprisoned, caned or otherwise beaten.
    They will not die at the hands of hostile enemies.
    They will not be killed in military battle.
    They will not be killed by tigers, wolves, or other evil beasts.
    They will not die from the venom of poisonous snakes, black serpents, or scorpions.
    They will not drown or be burned to death.
    They will not be poisoned to death.
    They will not die as a result of sorcery.
    They will not die of madness or insanity.
    They will not be killed by landslides or falling trees.
    They will not die of nightmares sent by evil people.
    They will not be killed by deviant spirits or evil ghosts.
    They will not die of evil illnesses which bind the body.
    They will not commit suicide.

Those who recite and hold the spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion will not suffer any of these fifteen kinds of bad death and will obtain the following fifteen kinds of good birth:

    Their place of birth will always have a good king.
    They will always be born in a good country.
    They will always be born at a good time.
    They will always meet good friends.
    The organs of their body will always be complete.
    Their heart will be pure and full in the way.
    They will not violate the prohibitive precepts.
    Their family will be kind and harmonious.
    They will always have the necessary wealth and goods in abundance.
    They will always obtain the respect and help of others.
    Their riches will not be plundered.
    They will obtain everything they seek.
    Dragons, gods, and good spirits will always protect them.
    In the place where they are born they will see the Buddha and hear the Dharma.
    They will awaken to the profound meaning of that Proper Dharma which they hear.

Those who recite and hold the Great Compassion Mantra will obtain these fifteen kinds of good birth. All gods and people should constantly recite and hold it, without carelessness.
Lyrics of the Great Compassion Mantra (Da Bei Zhou / 大悲咒)

The lyrics of the Great Compassion Mantra contain the names of many Bodhisattvas. Below is the Hanyu Pinyin or Romanised Chinese character version of the Great Compassion Mantra.

    na mo ho la da nu do la ye ye,
    na mo o li ye,
    po lu je di sho bo la ye,
    pu ti sa do po ye,
    mo ho sa do po ye,
    mo ho jia lu ni jia ye,
    sa bo la fa yi,
    su da nu da sia,
    na mo si ji li do yi mung o li ye,
    po lu ji di, sho fo la ling to po,
    na mo nu la jin cho,
    si li mo ho po do sha me,
    sa po wo to do shu pung,
    wo si yun,
    sa po sa do na mo po sa do na mo po che,
    mo fa to do,
    da dzo to,
    an, o po lu si,
    lu jia di,
    jia lo di,
    i si li,
    mo ho pu ti sa do,
    sa po sa po,
    mo la mo la,
    mo si mo si li to yun,
    ji lu ju lu, jie mong,
    du lu du lu fa she ye di,
    mo ho fa she ye di,
    to la to la,
    di li ni,
    shi fo la ye,
    zhe la zhe la,
    mo mo, fa mo la,
    mu di li,
    yi si yi si,
    shi nu shi nu,
    o la son, fo la so li,
    fa sha fa son,
    fo la she ye,
    hu lu hu lu mo la,
    hu lu hu lu si li,
    so la so la,
    si li si li,
    su lu su lu,
    pu ti ye, pu ti ye,
    pu to ye, pu to ye,
    mi di li ye,
    nu la jin cho,
    di li so ni nu,
    po ye mo nu,
    so po ho,
    si to ye,
    so po ho,
    mo ho si to ye,
    so po ho,
    si to yu yi,
    shi bo la ye,
    so po ho,
    no la jin cho,
    so po ho,
    mo la nu la,
    so po ho,
    si la son o mo chi ye,
    so po ho,
    so po mo ho o si to ye,
    so po ho,
    zhe ji la o xi to ye,
    so po ho,
    bo fo mo jie si to ye,
    so po ho,
    nu la jin cho bo che la ye,
    so po ho,
    mo po li song ji la ye,
    so po ho,
    na mo ho la ta nu do la ye ye,
    na mo o li ye,
    po lu ji di,
    sho bo la ye,
    so po ho,
    an si den,
    man do la,
    ba to ye,
    so po ho.

Below is the Sanskrit version of the Great Compassion Mantra.

    Namo ratnatrayaya.
    Namo aryavalokitesvaraya.
    Sarva abhayah.
    Namo sukrtvemama.
    Namo nilakantha.
    [Siri] mahabhadrasrame.
    Om avaloke.
    Sarva sarva.
    Mala mala.
    [Masi] Mahahrdayam.
    Kuru kuru karmam.
    (Kuru) Kuruvijayati
    Dharin suraya.
    Chala chala.
    Mama bhramara.
    Ehi ehi.
    Chinda chinda.
    Harsam prachali.
    Basa basam presaya.
    Hulu hulu mala.
    Hulu hulu hilo.
    Sara sara.
    Siri siri.
    Suru suru.
    Bodhiya bodhiya.
    Bodhaya bodhaya.
    Payamana svaha.
    Siddhaya svaha.
    Mahasiddhaya svaha.
    Siddhayogesvaraya svaha.
    Varahananaya svaha.
    Simhasiramukhaya svaha.
    Sarvamahasiddhaya svaha.
    Cakrasiddhaya svaha.
    Padmahastaya svaha.
    Nilakanthavikaraya svaha.
    Maharsisankaraya svaha.
    Namo ratnatrayaya.
    Namo aryavalokitesvaraya svaha.
    Om siddhyantu.
    Mantrapadaya svaha.

namo ratna trayaya,
namo aryajana,
bayuharadzaya tahtagataya,
samyaksam buddhaya,
namo sarwa tatha gatay,
bay arhaybay,
samyaksam buddhaybay,
namo arya awalokitay,
sharaya bodhisatoya,
tayata omdhara dhara,
dhiri dhiri,
dhuru dhuru,
itay witai tsalay tsalay,
tratsalay tratsalay,
kusumay kusumawa,
ray ilimili tsiti,
dzola mapanaya soha.

Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, who served for many years as the Chief of Meditation of the Kagyu denomination explained, in his Gently Whispered (New York: Station Hill, 1994):

"Most tantrayana or vajrayana visualization and mantra practices require that an initiation and subsequent authorization and instruction be given by a qualified lama before the sadhana, or ritual practice, can begin.

However, a few practices, those that were given publicly by Lord Buddha Shakyamuni, do not fall under such restrictions. Very definitely, all the practices given in the Sutras have the full blessing of the Buddha and therefore can be practiced if one has the aspiration to do so. Such practices include those of the noble Chenrezig and of the mother of the buddhas, Green Tara. Naturally, whenever it is possible for you to take the vajrayana initiation of Chenrezig or Green Tara, you are encouraged to do so.

Right now, however, the practice in which I am giving you instruction can be practiced straight away, due wholly to the blessing of Buddha Shakyamuni. When you finally do get around to receiving the Chenrezig initiation, it will deepen your practice and strengthen your connection with your tsaway (root) lama and with Yidam Chenrezig."

The book, whose title appears at the start of this quotation, has a complete sadhana of Chenrezi.

Since Ārya Ekādaśa-mukha Dhāraṇĩ is a Chenrezig/Avalokitesvara practice, it may require no initiation.

The Meaning of the Mantra Excerpted from Chenrezig Lord of Love by Bokar Rinpoche (Chapter One, The Nature of the Deity)

Mantras are a sound manifestation coming from emptiness. They are the authentic sound of emptiness.
From the point of view of the absolute truth and of emptiness itself, the mantra does not have any existence. There is neither sound nor mantra. Sounds and mantras, as with all other forms of manifestation, are located in the relative realm that arises from emptiness. In the relative realm, sounds, although devoid of their own entity, have the power to designate, name, and act on the mind. When, for instance, someone tells us "You are a fine person" or "You are very disagreeable," the words "fine" or "disagreeable" are not "things." They are only sounds that are not either "fine" or "disagreeable" in themselves, but simply evoke the thoughts of "fine" and "disagreeable" and produce an effect on the mind. Similarly, in the relative domain mantras are endowed with an infallible power of action.

Mantras are very often the names of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, or deities. For instance, OM MANI PADME HUNG is a way of naming Chenrezig. From an absolute point of view, Chenrezig does not have a name, but he is designated by names in the domain of the relative or literal meaning. These names are the vector of his compassion, grace, and the strength of the wishes he makes for the benefit of beings. In this way the recitation of his name transmits these qualities of his mind. Herein lies the explanation for the beneficial power of his mantra, which is also his name. As we assimilate ourselves to our own name and are at one with it, in the same way, on the relative level, the mantra is identical with the deity. They form a single reality. When one recites the mantra, one receives the grace of the deity; by visualizing the deity, one receives the same grace without any difference.

The mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG sometimes gives rise to fanciful or mysterious translations. As we have just said, however, this is simply one name of Chenrezig placed between two sacred and traditional syllables, OM and HUNG.

-OM represents the body of all Buddhas; it is also the beginning of all mantras;
-MANI means 'jewel' in Sanskrit;
-PADME, the Sanskrit pronunciation, or PEME in Tibetan, means "lotus";
-HUNG represents the mind of all Buddhas and often ends mantras;
-MANI refers to the jewel that Chenrezig holds in his two central hands and PADME to the lotus he holds in his second left hand. Saying MANI PADME names Chenrezig through his attributes: "the one who holds the jewel and the lotus." "Chenrezig" or "Jewel Lotus" are two names for the same deity.

When we recite this mantra we are in fact continually repeating the name of Chenrezig. In itself this exercise may look strange. Let us suppose there is a person named Sonam Tsering and that we ceaselessly repeat his name in the manner of a mantra. Sonam Tsering, Sonam Tsering, Sonam Tsering, and so on. This will seem very odd and will certainly be useless. If, on the other hand, the recitation of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG has a meaning, it is because this mantra is invested by the grace and power of the mind of Chenrezig who himself gathers the grace and compassion of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In this view, the mantra is endowed with the capacity to purify our mind from the veils that obscure it. The mantra opens the mind to love and compassion and leads it toward awakening.