Thursday, February 14, 2013

Two Buddhist Mantras

Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly; Wonderlane (photography)
Hevajra mandala empowerment ceremony, Nepal (
 ये धर्मा हेतु प्रभवा हेतुं तेषां तथागतः ह्यवदत्
तेषां च यो निरोध एवं वादी महाश्रमण
(Wonderlane/Chicago Art Institute, USA)
The Buddha is shown at left teaching the Dharma while seated on lion's roar throne, with hand gesture (teaching mudra) and chant (mantra) in Magadhi (Pali/Sanskrit) script, as aura.

It is possibly from 10th Century Bihar, India. He is shown under a vimana, a mark of nobility and prestige, explained in modern times as a "royal umbrella" but seems clearly to be a hovering craft rather than one held aloft.
He is bookended by two gem-and-precious-metal-studded reliquary towers (pagodas or stupas), which reach to the sky like vimana beacons.

Mantra 1
MANTRA: Ye dharmā hetuprabhavā hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgataḥ hyavadat teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇaḥ so ha
TRANSLATION: "Of those things that arise from a cause, the Tathāgata has said: 'This is their cause, and this is their cessation': This is what the Great Śhramaṇa teaches."

Alternatively, "All things arise from causes-and-supporting-conditions; the Wayfarer explained those causes and their cessation: This is the doctrine of the Great Ascetic."

This succinct summary of the Buddha-Dharma, the Teachings of the Enlightened One, may well be regarded as a "magic spell" (mantra) in the popular imagination. For it led to the sudden enlightenment (the arising of the Eye of the Dharma, dhamma-cakku, known as stream-entry) of the Buddha's chief male disciple, the Marshal of the Dharma, "foremost in wisdom," Sariputra.

How can this possibly be. We put this question to an enlightened living Buddhist master. He pointed out something embedded in this succinct phrase -- the Four Noble Truths, which is the whole of the Buddha's message in a nutshell:
  1. Disappointment (dukkha, suffering) is.
  2. It is originated (from causes and conditions).
  3. It can be brought to cessation (in absence of causes).
  4. There is a path leading to its cessation.
This means that our problem, unhappiness stemming from a lack of fulfillment (unsatisfactoriness), has a cause that we can do something about. We can set out on a well-taught path that brings about the complete end of suffering (nirvana).

This mantra, like so many of the teachings found in the conventional-discourses (sutras), has been reduced to description rather than substance. 

Mantra 2
The more famous non-canonical mantra comes as the climax at the end of the lengthy Heart of Wisdom (Prajna Paramitta) Sutra: 

MANTRA: Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi swaha!

TRANSLATION: "Gone-and-going, gone-and-going, gone-and-going beyond, gone-and-going altogether beyond, O, what an awakening, so it is!"
Smiling, a senior lama or rinpoche, and other lamas in maroon monastic robes, wear Five Dhyani Buddha Crowns. They are also holding blessed string during a high yoga tantra initiation within their community (sangha), Sakya Lamdre, Tharlam Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism, Dorje, Boudha, Kathmandu, Nepal.

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