As I ponder this question, I’m thinking what would be the key things to learn in Buddhism if it came down to it?
It’s probably 2:
1. Learn how to let go
2. Learn 1 mantra with utmost sincerity.
The principle behind mantras is to clear your mind of scattered thoughts, because you are only focusing on 1 thought repeatedly. The mind likes to think, so you are intentionally giving the mind something to think about and letting go of everything else – so this focuses the mind.
Mantras are basically a way to reign in the mind in the same way that you pull the reigns on a horse to reign it in, so that you regain control over the horse.
Now we’re giving the mind something neutral to think about – not something exciting. If we give the mind something exciting, then we can get caught up in the excitement and lose our mindfulness. So a neutral object is used.
It’s best if you can learn all of these, but if it comes down to it, minimum, you need at least 1:
- The Great Compassion Mantra – helps ease illnesses (not a replacement for seeing the doctor though)
- The Shurangama Mantra – is long and takes maybe over 6 months to memorize it. But it’s the Buddha’s most important mantra.
- The name of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva – Namo Gwan Shi Yin Pu Sa
- The name of Earth Store Bodhisattva – Namo Di Jang Wang Pu Sa
- The name of Amitabha Buddha – Namo Amitofo
The first 4 can be called upon in times of need or when you’re encountering difficulties in life. So if you guys want to be able to arm yourself with some protection in times of trouble – then learn at least Gwan Yin’s or Earthstore’s name to recite in times of need because they are the easiest to remember – they are just 1 line!
Then learn the Shurangama Mantra and the Great Compassion Mantra. These are longer mantras and you will need to learn maybe 1-3 lines each day until you’ve memorized it all. To me, the longer mantras are more interesting to recite. The shorter mantras can be easier to focus the mind on.
Here’s how to recite mantras. Pick 1 – whatever mantra or Buddha or Bodhisattva’s name you like.
Then just follow along playing the audio whilst reading the text for an overview. Then learn each mantra one line at a time until you’ve got it down properly. Then add another line to memorize. Continue until you’ve memorized the whole longer mantras.
Check out the audio selection here:
Whilst reciting, you are actually walking the Noble Eightfold path of precepts, samadhi and wisdom all at once.