First Maha Mantra Marathon

       By Bhiksu Heng Kuan


     The first mahamantra marathon in Western history was held at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery during the last week of March this year. Devoted Sangha members and lay Buddhists recited the Magnificent Six Syllable Mantra of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, OM MANI PADME HUM, for twenty-two and a half hours a day for seven days, pausing only once each day to make the Great Meal Offering and to take the one meal of the day. More than sixty people participated in this unique session.

This mantra marathon was held for the purpose of promoting world peace and contributing to the welfare of the nation by pacifying the minds of men, helping to rid a strife torn world and the mind from which it springs of greed, hatred, and delusion. The members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association hope to hold many sessions such as this in the future, and welcome anyone who wishes to attend. Participants all praised the inconceivable response and wonderful results they received from participating in the session.

On the day following the ceremony the Sangha and laymen of Gold Mountain Monastery hosted ceremonies and a vegetarian feast to celebrate the birthday of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.

The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua wrote this verse in a formal lyric style to commemorate this recitation session:

Ice in the sky,

Snow on the ground,

Numberless tiny bugs die in the cold

Or sleep in hibernation.

In the midst of stillness you should contemplate,

And within movement you should investigate.

When you wrestle with dragons and subdue tigers in continual playful sport,

Ghosts will cry and spirits wail: surrounding transformations are strange.

            True and actual meanings

            Are cut off from words,

            Not thought about or talked about...

            You ought to advance with haste.

            With the great and small destroyed,

            With no inside or out,

            Every mote of dust

            Is an infinite dharma realm

            Complete, whole, and perfectly fused,

            Interpenetrating without obstruction.

            With two clenched fists break to pieces the cover of empty

            In one mouthful swallow the source of seas of Buddhalands.

            With great compassion rescue all, sparing no blood or sweat,

            And never pause to rest.

                                    --translated by Bhiksu Heng Kuan


Pictured here are the participants who completed the full seven-day mantra session.