Continuing with the discussion of Jesus and the Jewel in the Lotus mantra from a few days ago, we have the final three syllables of the mantra (pad-me hum) to consider. If you missed my last post, which considered the first three syllables of the mantra (Om man-i), you can find it here. In that post, I said that I prefer the translation by the Dalai Lama.
The first two of those final syllables, pad-me, mean lotus, and the Dalai Lama says that the lotus symbolizes wisdom. Wisdom is a central tenet in the development of Christianity. The old Apostle Paul said that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.” Sophia is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for wisdom in the Septuagint. In Catholic theology and in Protestant mysticism, Sophia is the wisdom of God.
So, up to this point, we have Om, which is purity of mind, body, and speech; mani, which is compassion or love; and now padme, which is wisdom. Wisdom is simply too abstract to translate into action, so I take the statement in Proverbs that “the beginning of wisdom is the fear (reverence) of the Lord,” and I translate “reverence” into faithfulness or trust. Those are terms I can see in action. So when I repeat, to myself or with others, the syllables pad-me, I am yearning for faithfulness and trust–i.e., faithfulness to “the way” and trust in the one to whom the way leads.
The final syllable in the Jewel in the Lotus mantra, hum, is translated by the Dalai Lama as indivisibility, or oneness. The indivisibility of method (compassion) and wisdom. But also the inter-relation or inter-being of all creation. All human beings are inter-related. We are, in a very essential way, one. As a species, we like to think of ourselves as separate from, or above, the rest of creation. Yet we were created from dirt (in the Genesis story), consist mostly of water, must constantly synthesize both air and the flora/fauna to live, and reproduce through a process of cell division, just like everything else in creation. When we die, the atoms that made up our physical form return to the storehouse of nature from which other creatures/things come. Oneness.
Often when I pray, I use the simple translations of the syllables of the Jewel in the Lotus as my mantra. Purity, compassion, faithfulness, oneness. Those are all important words/ideas in the teachings of Jesus. They are words that describe Jesus. We are told to be transformed, to have the mind of Jesus. In the beginning, Christianity was not called “Christianity.” It was called “the Way.” Jesus is the Way. Meditating on the words of this mantra is one of the ways I try to follow the way. I like to think of Jesus as the Jewel in the Lotus, the Compassion in the Wisdom.
Purity, compassion, faithfulness, oneness.