Special Topics

How to Choose Which Mantra to Recite?

Different mantras have different merits and virtues. Buddhist beginners can choose those mantras for which they have affinity to recite. For instance, many Pure Land Buddhism practitioners recite the Rebirth in the Pure Land Mantra; practitioners of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara's methods usually recite Great Compassion Mantra and the Six-syllable Brilliant Mantra; those who practice the methods of the Medicine Buddha recite the Medicine Buddha Mantra; and practitioners of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's methods recite the Mantra of Eliminating Fixed Karma. As for those practitioners who do not follow a regular practice method, Master Sheng Yen always told them to recite Cundi Bodhisattva Mantra and the Great Compassion Mantra. 

Is it true that the more kinds of mantras we recite, the greater the merits and virtues we can obtain? Mantra recitation definitely can provide us with merits and virtues. However, the original intention of mantra recitation is neither to gain merits and virtues nor to obtain spiritual responses. Reciting mantras devoutly, helps practitioners to achieve a calm and concentrated mind, thereby cultivating the wisdom and compassion that are equal to that of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

*People always ask: "Which mantra is the most efficacious?" In fact, all the mantras can be viewed as the culmination of the merits and the power of compassionate vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thus, they all have their unique functions and effects. "The Way of all Buddhas is the same." Buddhist mantras may seem different from each other; however, they all lead to the same goal. Whether or not practitioners can obtain spiritual responses through mantra recitation completely depends on their minds.

Dedication of Merits Derived from Mantra Recitation 

Is it necessary to dedicate the merits after completing the mantra recitation?  Whether you dedicate the merits or not, it is ok. Buddhist practitioners will normally dedicate merits after morning and evening services or after group practice. Dedicating merits not only evokes the power of prayer, but is also a blessing. As for individual mantra recitation, the merits can be dedicated to some specific people, matters and things, or to all sentient beings, thereby sending our blessings to all of them.

Extended Reading:

Dharani Recitation Practice: Learning the Spiritual Codes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Understanding the Structure of Dharanis

How to Choose Which Mantra to Recite?

The Methods of Reciting Mantras

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha's name and reciting the mantra?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q2: Will mispronunciation of the mantras impact its meritorious effect?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q3: Is the chanting of a mantra effective only when we know its meaning?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q4: How can reciting mantras eliminate karmic obstacles and prevent disasters?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q5: Can a wish be fulfilled by reciting a mantra?

Resource: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: Beatrice Yang (楊淑玲) 

Editing: YKL, Keith Brown