Om Mani Padme Hum Meaning In Plain English

When I first heard the Buddhist mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, I wondered just exactly what it represented. I’d seen it in various Buddhist texts, in Youtube videos, and even in Buddhist art.  But what exactly does it mean? Actually, it’s one of the most important mantras in the world [Read: Mantra Meditation for Beginners]. It is the mantra representing the way to become enlightened.

Explaining Om Mani Padme Hum

Each word in the mantra has a meaning. And to get to its definition we need to break it down word by word. 

  • Om: a sacred syllable that you can find in lots of Indian religions. Om means the essence of reality and is the universal sound of the universe.
  • Mani: means “bead” or “jewel”.
  • Padme: means “lotus flower”. Flower? Yup. But not just any old flower. The lotus flower is the sacred flower of Buddha.
  • Hum: represents enlightenment.

Put all that together, and you get the meaning.

Translated it says “Om [universal sound]. Jewel. Lotus. Enlightenment.”

Okay. But that still doesn’t tell us what it means. So let’s go deeper. 

The mantra means different things depending on the school of Buddhism that it’s coming from. However, the standard translation is “The Jewel Is In The Lotus”.

But it gets even deeper. 

Let’s break it down word by word.  


This is the universal sound that begins and ends many mantras in Buddhism. It is about having inner peace and oneness. It also serves as an entry point to the mantra because it creates that inner calmness that we need to absorb the meaning and the benefits of the mantra / song. 


Mani means “Compassion”. Nothing is more important than compassion. 

As the Dalai Lama said, “We can live without religion, but we cannot live without human compassion”. That’s why we need to do our all to make sure that we are compassionate to everyone. We must act in enlightened (noble and pure) ways in body, mind, and speech.

When we recite Mani or sing the song, we remind ourselves to be compassionate for all living beings. 


Padme means “Wisdom”. It is about living in accordance with the Dharma, the teachings of Buddha, and particularly following the Noble Eightfold Path, which is right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.


The meaning of Hum is enlightenment, the highest state we can achieve. This is the “jewel in the lotus”. The “lotus” is particularly important. It is a spiritually significant plant that emerges from the murkiest of waters but always points towards the sun. The symbolism here speaks for itself. 


The mantra represents the pathway to enlightenment.

Essentially, what it means is that if you want to achieve the highest state of being, you must live an enlightened life, by speaking, acting, and behaving in an enlightened way, with love and compassion for all. This is the way to your highest self. Follow the path of Dharma with love and compassion, and you will attain enlightenment. 


There are spiritual benefits of the Om Mani Padme Hum Mantra. Here is what happens when you chant or sing this mantra.

  1. When you say or sing “Om”, you are making the sound that represents purity. The purity of body, mind and speech. This sound creates relaxation and inner peace, which is one of the benefits of chanting it, especially when in a group song, where the choral music truly amplifies the effects. 
  2. The rest of the words represent the path.
  3. Mani means love and compassion. This is love and compassion for all beings and the self. 
  4. Padme means lotus and represents wisdom. The wisdom is the wisdom of Dharma, the Buddhist path. The lotus reminds us to follow the path of Dharma and particularly the Noble Eightfold Path. 
  5. Hum means enlightenment, which is the highest state we can attain. 
  6. Put it together, and you get: “Purity of mind, body and speech. Path. Love and compassion. Wisdom. Enlightenment.”
  7. Translate this, and it reads, “Be pure in body mind and speech. Follow the path of wisdom with love and compassion.  Buddhahood will result”.

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By Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations.


  1. Wow: this thorough explanation of a significant saying with meaning translated into another language i appreciate and value. These are not simple words: each has many connotations, depth of meaning, and situational impact. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for your explanation. I’ve been using the mantra for quite some time and recently began thinking about what it means when I actually say it. So thank you for enlightening me. <3

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