Collection of Q & A on Vajrayana Mantra Recitation
We received numerous enquiries and requests to participate in the Namgyal Tongchod that Dechen Choekhor held recently. There are questions need to be answered and confusion that must be clarified. To address those, Jetsun Choekyi Gonpo has thoughtfully bestowed a short teaching as follows:
CAN ANYONE RECITE VAJRAYANA MANTRAS?
In the strictest sense, only those who have received empowerment of the deity and the oral transmissions of its mantra are allowed to recite His or Her mantra as every mantra is related to deity empowerment.
However, for the more common Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’s mantras, such as OM MANI PADME HUNG, OM AH HUNG BENZRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG; the prerequisites are not that stringent. Generally, the person must have already taken the Vajrayana Refuge and Bodhicitta, and received at least one proper Vajrayana empowerment from a qualified master. Then, if the person wishes to recite some other mantras which they do not have empowerment, they can request the same or other qualified masters to bestow the oral transmission of that mantra before reciting.
What mantras you are reciting is important, but much more important than that are your faith and devotion to the master and the deity you are reciting. Pure heart, wish to benefit other and faith, as well as putting your body, speech and mind together while practicing is the deciding factors of how much merits and blessings generated from the recitation.
IF THERE IS NO MASTER AROUND TO GRANT US ORAL TRANSMISSION, CAN WE OBTAIN ORAL TRANSMISSION THROUGH LISTENING TO THE PRE-RECORDED VOICE OF A QUALIFIED MASTER?
As I mentioned earlier, the minimal prerequisite is that the person must have taken the Vajrayana Refuge and Bodhicitta, and received a proper Vajrayana empowerment from a qualified master. The empowerment may not necessary be the deity they wish to chant now, for example, the Namgyalma Mantra. What important is the person understand what empowerment is and has undergone a proper one.
Oral transmission is best to receive from a living master in person. If that is impossible at that time, listening to the chant of a qualified master they know and have faith in could serve the purpose (as the alternative of an actual oral transmission) … it is better than not receiving any transmission. In this case, they have to listen to the recording few times with faith, trust and devotion. Then, they may start reciting the mantra. Most importantly is the sound of recitation. Oral transmission is all about sound and the blessings transmitted through it.
IS THERE ANY NEGATIVE IMPACTS TO RECITE VAJRAYANA MANTRAS WITHOUT EMPOWERMENT OR ORAL TRANSMISSION?
For the common mantras and those of the peaceful deities, it is alright to recite after receiving oral transmission. Without oral transmission, the benefit or blessing from their recitations would be very minimal. There is no negative karma from reciting the mantras of peaceful deities without empowerment or oral transmission. Just that they may not be getting the merits and blessings they supposed to receive from their practices.
However, for wrathful deities, it is not alright to recite their mantras without proper empowerment and oral transmission. Without empowerment of the wrathful deity, it is better not to recite the mantra, even with oral transmission. Otherwise, there is no lineage, no blessing, no proper guidance or explanation … they may do it all wrong. So, my advice is, do not recite any wrathful deities mantras without proper empowerment and oral transmission.
Hope this clear the confusion and answer most people questions. May it benefit all!
The above transcript is compiled from the various teachings conferred by Drukpa Choegon Rinpoche in many different occasions. We have condensed the essence for the benefit of the readers. May it benefits all!
If there is any errors or inappropriateness found in the transcriptions of Rinpoche teachings, they are attributable solely to the transcriber, editor and web administrators; and are not a reflection of Rinpoche's teachings, which are flawless and insightful as always
More teaching compilation shall be uploaded soon :)