A mantra is a sound, a word or a sequence of words. Mantra meditation is very easy to learn. It helps calm the mind, let go of your attachment to thinking and strengthen your center. Just repeating a mantra helps you to focus your attention on a single point and eventually reach a state of very deep rest. The main difference between the mantras is the length of the mantra used and the mantra’s direction. Generally the more incessant the thinking, the shorter the mantra is.
The usual technique is to recite the mantra constantly, paying attention to it and allowing all other thinking to drop away. This takes some practice, since it is very easy to let one part of the brain ‘chant’ the mantra while the other part is thinking about dinner or going to a movie. When this happens, gently bring the mind back to the mantra without any judgment.
You can do mantra practice during bowing, sitting or in many other situations. To do your mantra practice more precisely, you can use beads (mala).
A mantra is either given to you by a teacher or chosen by yourself. When selecting a mantra, be clear on what your intention is, and use your intuition over your intellect. You may want to try out each mantra for a few days or weeks to see how it feels and choose the one that seems to fit you best.
Ultimately, it does not matter which mantra you choose. Just do it single-mindedly, believing in the experience of its efficiency 100%. Then your karma disappears and your true self becomes shining bright. Then you can help all beings.
Following are listed some of the common mantras used in our Zen practice. The explanation of their meanings and use are listed below the mantras.
Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind… Don’t Know
This mantra is intended to relieve the mind of a lot of thinking.
gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, bodhi svaha
Literally this mantra means: “gone, gone, gone beyond; opposites disappear, absolute appears”
The Great Vow mantra: “I vow to save all beings”; helps the dead and the suffering.
The Great Love and Great Compassion mantra which when invoked removes all kinds of suffering.
Namu Amita Bul
The Pure Land Mantra used to invoke the Western Paradise of Amitabha Buddha.
This mantra is used to save all sentient beings stuck in Hell. If you try this, then Hell’s gates will be broken and all beings can come out.
This mantra is used to invite all the Buddhas of the ten directions.
This mantra envokes the Great Love and Great compassion of a mother’s mind and anytime there is a problem, if you try this, the problem will disappear.
Buddha taught that this world is complete, but it is our minds that are not complete. So this mantra helps our minds become complete and strong.
Namu–samanda–motdanam–abarji–hadasa–sananam–danyata Om–kaka–kahe–kahe–hum–hum–abara–abara–bara–abara–bara–abara Jita–jiri–jir–jir–badu–badu–sanjika–shiri–e–sabaha
For those with heavy karma this mantra will take away all good and bad, and all opposites, then cutting through this karma will become easy.
The Gods of the five directions (North, South, East, West and Center) are said to like the sound of this mantra, so when we do it, every god will hear our voice, and these gods will keep a clear mind and help us with our problems.
Namu Sogamuni Bul
This mantra for Śākyamuni Buddha is done to save all beings from suffering.
This is the universal mantra of truth. Chanting this mantra takes away everything.
This is the mantra of opening the Buddha’s true Dharma; it helps us to perceive the truth of this very moment.
This literally means; correct eyes, correct ears, and correct mouth. So if we have a problem seeing clearly, hearing clearly or speaking clearly, this mantra will help us.
A Pure Land Mantra that can assist in you in being reborn in the Western Paradise.
This mantra is used to clean the entire cosmos, so when your life seems cloudy and dark, this will clean all the darkness and bring forth brilliant illumination.
When the mind is chasing thoughts constantly this mantra opens the mind and results in a wide and spacious mind.
This mantra takes away all of your karma and allows you to see the truth and act appropriately.
This will protect the body so no bad energy can enter it, used when there is a sickness or to gain energy.
This mantra shatters the gates of Hell and opens the gate to nirvana.
This is an extra mantra (like an extra button on a shirt) it is used as a preventive measure even if things are going well.
This mantra is used for universal mystical energy, it can help you see through to your aspirations.
This is a mantra to begin ceremonies.
This is for when your mind is dark or small, when you cannot perform the correct actions. When cannot see and cannot hear correctly, this mantra will make your mind wide.
This is another mantra to clear away your karma and thereby help you to make changes in your life.
This mantra is for purification, when you need to purify the energy of a place that seems to have bad karma.
This is the universal mantra of repentance and is used to help correct an incorrect situation.
This is the last mantra in a ceremony – it is the ceremony is completed mantra.
This mantra helps to get rid of bad speech and uncontrollable desires.