Author Topic: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?  (Read 20576 times)

Aurore

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 356
Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« on: March 03, 2012, 08:40:36 PM »
Mantra is the speech manifestation and the wisdom energy of all Buddhas. It purifies our impure perception of sound. It is a means of protecting our mind from delusions hence the Sanskrit word for mantram that combines the root manas (mind) with tram (protection). Its literal meaning is mind-protection. It eliminates ignorance and opens the way to wisdom. It amplifies blessings and by it, tranquility can be obtained. It can save and alleviate beings from hundreds and thousands of miseries.

So here is an interesting story that I'd discovered:-
There is a teaching story about an educated practitioner who was worried about his mother who was not too bright, was illiterate and knew nothing of the Buddha's teaching.  He was worried that when she died, she would go to hell and suffer many lifetimes there, since she did not know how to pray.

He taught her that whenever she heard any kind of bell, she should immediately respond:

Om Ma-Ni Peh-Meh Hoong!

They would make a kind of game of it; he would ring the bell at the door; she would say the mantra; they would laugh. He jingled a few coins; at that metallic sound, she said the mantra. They both got a kick out of it. It got so that even when he was not there, like when she heard the collar bells of yaks and dris, she  automatically responded: Om Mani Pemeh Hoong! .

Now it came to pass, that the good mother died.  Due to her karma, she was whisked away to one of the hot hells where she found herself in a huge iron cauldron being stirred by a terrible demon with a great metal spoon.

But.
Inevitably, the spoon struck the rim with a resounding CLANGGGG!!!

The woman responded without even thinking, just as she had been taught:

Om Mani Pemeh Hooong

and zzzziiip -

There she was - in the Pure Land of Dewachen, the heaven of Buddha Amitabha where eventually, like everyone there, she became one of the Enlightened Ones.


What do you guys think? Can reciting mantras alone bring us to Enlightenment?

Q

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2012, 10:01:44 AM »
I believe mantras are very powerful, but I do not believe that solely reciting mantras will bring us to enlightenment.

Why? because just by seeing the iconography on Buddhas (ie Tsongkhapa)... it takes wisdom and method to bring use to higher spiritual  practice and ultimately enlightenment. Just as seen in the Guru Tree.

Mantras is of course very important, but it doesn't provide us the wisdom and method that we badly need. When I say it doesn't provide wisdom, i'm not talking about the ability of mantras blessing our mind stream to allow us to understand the Dharma clearer, what I meant is, without even reading Dharma text... how does one convert the knowledge into wisdom when it is not there in the first place?

I have no doubt about the power of mantra, so I totally believe in the story that is posted. I know for a fact, that if a person recites just 1 mala of Om Mani Pedme Hung everyday until the end of their life, they will be saved from lower rebirths and take a fortunate human rebirth to have another chance to practice the Dharma. This story proves that. However, I doubt the lady in the story continued to recite mantras only when she arrived in Pure Land.

In short? I like to see Dharma as the medicine and mantras are the essential vitamin supplementary we take to nourish our spirituality.

WisdomBeing

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2096
    • Add me to your facebook!
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2012, 06:38:56 AM »
Sorry but I don't think we can gain Enlightenment by just reciting mantras. If we can gain Enlightenment just by recitation alone, parrots can gain Enlightenment. Perhaps the story about the lady who automatically recites is just to inspire people to recite and hope that Dharma will sink in to them later. Sometimes people start off reciting mindlessly but perhaps that plants Dharma seeds in them so that when the opportunity to learn Dharma later comes, the seeds can open up.

It is also not true that if someone just recites a mala of Om Mani Peme Hung daily for the rest of their life that it guarantees that they don't go to the three lower realms. I believe that you would have to hold certain vows to prevent you from incurring negative karma as well. I have heard that certain schools of Buddhism just tell you to recite a certain mantra daily and that will ensure you go to a particular heaven but i don't believe it. If it's so EASY, most of us would be in heaven. What about the purification of our negative karma? I don't think we can remove our negative karma just by reciting mantras. We need to work on our attitudes, our delusions, renunciation... the 6 perfections, lojong etc.. don't we?
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

lightning

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 314
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2012, 09:46:49 AM »
That is only when you have the full mastery in understanding and actualization  of Buddha's manifestation body, enjoyment body and dharma body. It is just like an iphone , you need the complete software to run the full capability of an iphone.

negra orquida

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 205
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #4 on: March 05, 2012, 03:12:15 PM »
Thank you Aurore for sharing this story. It is quite light hearted and uplifting, very good to tell to young children =D

As what everyone else has said, I also don't think one can gain enlightenment just by reciting mantras.  That would be akin to telling someone "if you just believe in Me, you will go to heaven".  It goes against what we learn in Dharma!

Even doing elaborate pujas with all the ritual items and costumes and beautiful offerings on a daily basis does not automatically put us on the green lane to enlightenment.  If we are mean, unkind, arrogant, greedy during the times we are NOT doing pujas, then our pujas will not be effective.  How could they be?  The pujas I know of talk about dispelling hatred, ignorance and attachment, generating compassion, love and wisdom, clearing obstacles to our spiritual practice... so how can praying for all this be effective when we are not on our holy cushions, we do the exact opposite?  Definitely the Buddhas did not teach that hypocrites can become enlightened.

Likewise, with mantras, these are words/sounds that embody the qualities/energy of the deity to which the mantra relates.  For e.g. om mani padme hum, is the mantra of Avalokiteshvara.  Reciting this mantra can help us increase our compassion.  But if we recite it while we drown a snail with salt for fun, how effective could the mantra be?

In fact, this story clearly illustrates that if we recite mantras everyday in our human life and nothing else, it is very most probably/definitely that we will go to hell, just like the mother in the story.  Once we go down to the lower realms, it is very hard for us to remember a single word of Dharma, let alone see a Buddha's image.  However, the educated practitioner understood the value and workings of imprints and karmic seeds, and with genuine compassion, patiently and skilfully taught his mother how to remember and recite the mantra.  Because the imprints from reciting mantras in her human life was strong enough to surface in the mother's hell life despite the environment of tremendous pain and suffering, and she had planted enough seeds of enlightenment from reciting mantras earlier, she managed to open the chance to go to Amitabha's Pure Land and ultimately gain enlightenment when she heard the clanging spoon in hell.

But it is by sheer chance that she remembered the mantra at that point in time.  Perhaps the son was a highly attained practitioner and was able to give her a lot of blessings, or through clairvoyance was able to give her the right prescription to get out of hell asap.

So actually, the story is not as simple as it seems, and it is consistent with what we have been taught.

shugdentruth

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2012, 05:22:41 PM »
Mantras are extremely powerful for the person that recites it. But sometimes, we dedicate the mantras to our loved ones or to the people we are worried for. How does this help them?? They do not hear the mantra nor do they have the mantra resinating through their bodies. How does mantras help the person we dedicate them to??

lightning

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 314
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2012, 12:26:50 AM »
Mantras are extremely powerful for the person that recites it. But sometimes, we dedicate the mantras to our loved ones or to the people we are worried for. How does this help them?? They do not hear the mantra nor do they have the mantra resinating through their bodies. How does mantras help the person we dedicate them to??
You can still dedicate to them silently or far away. As long as you focus on the person whom you wanted to dedicate the merits, they will receive it. Depending on the function of mantra, you can apply what you hope what blessing they receive.

jeremyg

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 112
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2012, 05:47:35 AM »
Quote
Most Buddhist traditions recognize that the path to Enlightenment entails three types of training: virtue (s?la); meditation (samadhi); and, wisdom (paññ?).

Just based from this quote I can tell you that mantra's mean nothing without wisdom. That how do we practice compassion through mantra's. Maybe if we are highly practiced and almost at the state of enlightenment, where we have all the wisdom, and virtue, maybe mantra's will be the last link.

They way I see mantra's is as a practice to help you practice even more. They bring you power, and help you open up, close, or purify karma.

vajraD

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 79
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2012, 09:44:40 AM »
I don’t think just by reciting mantras one can gain enlightenment. If is that easy all of us can just sit home and chant and gain enlightenment. However mantras can help purify our negative karma or lessen them. By chanting one can also open up the karma of the Dharma. It can strengthen one practice in Dharma and open up our wisdom so that we are able to absorb the Dharma teaching that is given to us.

triesa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 609
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2012, 10:36:49 AM »
Mantra definitely have power, I myself have real life experience of the power of mantra. As to whether you can gain enlightenment just by chanting mantra, I wish enlightenment is that easy........ ;D

Chanting mantra is a way to use words of buddha to bless our mindstream, sounds have power and certain sound can actually heal our mind and body as well....like the mantra of medicine buddha and white tara, for instance. Certain mantra can even dispell black magic.

Chanting mantra is also one great way to collect merits, it is like making offerings to the three jewels. There are many ways and methods to collect merits, but merits are important for us to further our dharma growth, it is kind of like a building block, it faciliates our undertanding of the dharma text, it can also support our dharma work.

Chanting can help our path to enlightenement, but solely alone, I do not think we can reach full liberation. 

yontenjamyang

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 733
    • Email
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2012, 10:56:35 AM »
Nice story Aurore. Reciting mantras alone would not get us to Enlightenment. We need to take vows and follow a path recommended  to us by a Guru. However, definitely mantra are within the practice as invocation of the energy to the particular Yidam or deity. It is the sound energy of the deity. It one has faith and practice that particular deity or protector then in certain times of need we can invoke the deity's energy by the recitation of the mantra.

Most importantly, we need to internalise the practice and mantra by our daily prayers and meditations for it to be effective. On its side, the mantra has certain efficacy. Like a tool, even a novice can use it. But to be really effective we need to be skilled.

pgdharma

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1055
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2012, 02:38:06 PM »
Definitely mantras have power as they are the holy words of the Buddha but it will not get us to Enlightenment just be reciting. If it is that easy, then we would all be enlightened.

As in the case of the woman in the story, it shows that even though she recited mantras when she was alive, she still went to hell when she died. However as she was so used to reciting mantras whenever she hears a bell sound, it created a very strong imprint in her which she carried along when she died. So that strong imprint opened up again and she responded to the mantras when she heard the bell sound in hell which eventually led her to the Pure Land. If she did not created that very strong imprint she would not have remembered to recite the mantra and would have remained longer in hell.

Manjushri

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 442
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2012, 08:15:31 PM »
What an interesting share, Aurore. Thank you.

Mantras alone cannot bring you to enlightenment. No, definitely not. Lets say one minute you are reciting mantras, creating merit through your speech, and the next minute, you start screaming, putting down, lying and using profanities at others, creating demerit. You create more demerit than merit, more negative karma than positive karma,..how are you able to gain enlightenment that way?

Anyways, from my little understandings, attainments come from realizations. It is from the mind. From learning, from practicing the 2 lineages - compassion and wisdom. Chanting mantras alone will not educate you, it will not bring wisdom to you if you have no dharma knowledge. Yes it definitely will create imprints, which can open up in future, and have you receive blessings on ur spiritual journey, but definitely not to enlightenment by solely chanting alone. Enlightenment is not that easy!   

Just a sidetrack - the story reminded me of something I read in a Psychology book - how people train their pets with a bell, associating the bell to food, likewise in this case, the son taught the mum to associate the ringing of a bell to a mantra. How cute, and ingenius. Ringing of the bell and recitation of the mantra - both have sound energy, just that one is holy and blessed compared to the other. :)

Midakpa

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 624
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2012, 03:55:33 PM »
I agree that mantras are powerful and have many benefits.  For example, some people are able to cure themselves of their illnesses by reciting mantras without resorting to medication or other methods. According to Lama Govinda, "the real power of mantras resides less in their sound than in the mind of the mantra-wielder." The efficacy of mantras depends on the trust we have in them, not so much the meaning. We don't even have to know the meaning.

But I don't think mantras alone can lead us to enlightenment. But one can become a stream enterer like Shariputra when he first heard the pratitya-samutpada mantra:

OM YE DHARMA HETU-PRABHAVA HETUM TESHAM TATHAGATO HYAVADAT TESHAM CHA YO NIRODHA EVAM VADI MAHASHRAMANAH SVAHA

This mantra is a summary of the Buddha's teachings. The arhat Assaji, one of Buddha's five disciples, was asked by Shariputra what his master taught. Assaji replied with this statement which became a famous mantra. The translation is: "Regarding dharmas that arise from a cause, the Tathagata taught their cause and also their cessation. Those were the words of the Great Mendicant."

Upon hearing these words, Shariputra attained the first stage of the path, entering the stream. Nowadays, this mantra is used to stabilize the power of blessings in one's mantra recitation as well as to purify dharma practice, especially any misunderstanding of the view.

Jessie Fong

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 690
Re: Can we gain Enlightenment just by reciting Mantras?
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2012, 12:55:02 PM »
Wouldn't everyone on earth be enlightened if all one needs to do is just chant mantra.  Not difficult right?  Chanting mantras help us along the way as these are Buddhas holy words.  But we must also remember that Buddha did not become enlightened because he chanted mantras only.

I think she was able to be reach Pure Land because of her practice not only in the recent previous life but in all her other lives.  It had to be an accumulation of all her good merits.

I like the story though - if only we could be enlightened by daily mantra chanting, how easy it would be for us. No need to transofrm our mind, take the easy way out.