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How to Recite Mantras

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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How to Recite Mantras

Concerning the way in which mantras should be recited, the Great Master from Uddiyana explains:


Count at your heart for peaceful activity,

At your navel for enriching activity,

At the secret place for magnetizing activity,

Count with a wish to summon.


For wrathful activity count near your knee

At the point where the legs are crossed.

For multiple activities count wherever is comfortable.


How to Recite MantrasExplaining further, he states:How to Recite Mantras


When reciting peaceful mantras

Count with the rosary on your index finger,

And for enriching mantras, on your middle finger.

For magnetizing, keep it on your ring finger,

And for wrathful mantras, on the little finger.


Always use your left hand;

Never count with your right hand.


However, it is said that on some occasions you may count using both hands and that for wrathful mantras you can count using the thumb of the right hand. There is also a way of counting that expels, as is the case with averting mantras. From a general point of view, an easy and effective way to practice is to place the rosary on top of the index finger, and then count with the thumb in the form of a hook. This holds for all four types of enlightened activity.


There are also samaya vows that must be observed. The great master Padmasambhava explains:How to Recite Mantras

A genuine rosary should accompany you at all times,

Like the body and its shadow.

This is the fundamental samaya of the rosary.

Although a great many subsidiary samayas are taught,

In brief this is what you should know:

Do not show your rosary to others.

If you do not let it leave the warmth of your body,

Whatever you practice will quickly be accomplished.

Likewise, do not let anyone else hold it,

Especially, it is said, anyone with damaged samaya vows, obscurations,

Or with whom you do not share the same samaya.

It is important not to let it slip into the hands of such people.

Other than using it to count when reciting,

Do not hold it leisurely at inappropriate times.


Do not employ it for the sake of divination and astrology.

A rosary that has not been consecrated should never be held.


A consecrated rosary should be kept secret

And not used for other activities. 

Do not place it on the ground or cast it aside.


Do not use a so-called “adulterated rosary,”

One mixed with inappropriate things.


Furthermore, the masters of mantra have taught that if you slip into conversation while counting the mantra, you must subtract some numbers, going back four beads on the rosary. If you cough, go back five, three if you yawn, ten if you sneeze, and one if you spit.

As described, first visualize the appearance of the deity, then the mantra chain, and finally the projection and absorption of light and so on. However, it is very important that these individual stages only be performed once you have reached stability in the visualizations of the preceding stage.


Concluding the Session

When the time comes to conclude the session, you must compensate for any additions and omissions in the recitation. To do so, chant the Sanskrit alphabet, recite the hundred-syllable mantra and the “Essence of Dependent Origination” three times each. Following this, make offerings and offer praise. The meaning of this meditation was explained above.

Should there be any auspicious sign when you arrive at the stage of accomplishment, you must immediately take the spiritual accomplishments or


you will run the risk of it dissipating. Therefore, when you reach this stage of the practice, you should receive the spiritual accomplishments on a daily basis. It is especially important to do so at dawn on the final day of your practice. The meaning of this practice will be explained below.

Next, present offerings and praise as an expression of gratitude, then ask for forgiveness by supplicating in the following way:

Ignorant and careless, we beginners have failed to develop meditative clarity in our visualization and have not recited the required number of mantras. In performing the ritual, we have added some things and omitted


others. We have also failed to gather offering substances and ritual implements, and fallen prey to laziness. We now confess this and feel great


embarrassment and remorse for all our confused errors related to the performance of the profound rituals of Secret Mantra. Please be forbearing and purify these errors. 

Next, as you recite the hundred-syllable mantra, imagine that all transgressions are purified and cleansed.


Enlightened Mind

Thirdly comes the luminosity practice of enlightened mind. When there is a front visualization involved, such as during the accomplishment stage, the wisdom beings in front should be requested to remain in the support if there is one. If there is no support present, you should request them to depart into the natural basic space of phenomena. The samaya beings are then gathered into the self- visualization.

When there is only a self-visualization involved, the wisdom being within never departs. Thus, chant the verses of the dissolution while you visualize the following. First, imagine that the entire universe and its inhabitants melt into


light and dissolve into the celestial palace. Next, the palace itself, starting from the perimeter, is gradually absorbed into the retinue deities. The retinue dissolves into the central male and female deities. The female consort then dissolves into


the male deity, the male deity dissolves into the wisdom being in his heart center, and the wisdom being dissolves into the encircling mantra. Finally, the mantra dissolves into the absorption being—the seed syllable of the life force of enlightened mind.

Focus your attention on this syllable, which then dissolves, from the bottom up, until even the upper tip is gone. At this point, rest for as long as you are able in the nonconceptual state of emptiness free from dualistic observations. This clears away the extreme of permanence.

Alternatively, you may also perform the dissolution that is likened to a rainbow vanishing in the sky. The first of these approaches is called the “subsequent dissolution,” while the latter is known as the “complete dissolution.” These are, in fact, very similar but for beginners it is very important to practice the subsequent dissolution. On this topic, the Great Omniscient One explains:

The development stage ends the belief that appearances are real. The completion stage eliminates the belief that holds them to be illusory. When free from believing that appearance and emptiness are real, You have reached the pure nature of indivisible development and completion.

As stated here, the method for overcoming ordinary concepts, whereby we believe in the reality of the world and its inhabitants, is to dissolve the illusory



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