Tom Kenyon

The Song of Great Compassion

While you can certainly listen to The Song of Great Compassion as you might listen to any other “song,” this particular sonic piece can be used as a potent form of meditation and/or as a way to engage The Mandala of Great Compassion, which is a means to transform personal suffering into enlightened compassionate states of mind.

The mantra, OM MANI PEME HUM, is the central mantra of this Song. It has a long tradition in Tibet as a means to connect with enlightened states of mind that are intrinsically compassionate in nature. The mantra translates as “Hail to the jewel in the lotus.” And as mentioned in the short description of this Song, the jewel is compassion and the lotus is the heart.

In this context, it is important to realize that compassion is an empathic state of mind whereby you witness and have empathy with your own or another sentient being’s suffering.

Listening to the Song as a Sound Meditation

Rest your awareness in the center of your chest underneath your sternum. Your heart chakra resides in the area in front of your spine opposite your sternum. You can listen to the Song with your attention just resting in this area. Or if you prefer, you can imagine that there is a white opened lotus in the region of your heart chakra and inside, at the center of this lotus, is a clear diamond. As you continue to listen to the Song you might experience that the sound vibrations elicit emanations of light coming from the diamond at the center of your heart chakra, or you might experience other internal sensory displays, all of which are expressions of your own innate consciousness.

Click here to listen to and/or download The Song of Great Compassion.

The Mandala of Great Compassion

This Song is well-suited to amplify the benefits of The Mandala of Great Compassion since the sound codes within the sound meditation carry the Shakti (i.e., energy) of enlightened compassion. To use the sound meditation as an aid to creating The Mandala, listen to the Song while you engage The Mandala as described below.

The Mandala of Great CompassionPreliminaries

The Great Mandala refers to all of the phenomena that is occurring in the universe at this moment. You are at the center of the mandala that is your life, because it is from your personal perspective that you experience the world. In turn, each person around us is also at the center of his or her mandala. As a result, none of us experiences the world in exactly the same way because our centers (our personal sensory perception and ways of being) are different.

The practice of The Mandala of Great Compassion is based upon the understanding that in any given moment innumerable beings are suffering.

Suffering—from the perspective of Buddhist tantra—is a result of attachment to sensory experience. Thus, when someone feels a loss as experienced through his or her senses, there is suffering.

As humans, we can experience suffering around almost anything—the loss of a relationship, possessions, money, health and so on. The list is virtually endless.

The Practice

In moments of personal suffering—of any kind—including mental, emotional, spiritual or physical, it is an ideal time to create The Mandala of Great Compassion.

The Mandala of Great Compassion imparts deep insight into the nature of your suffering, which allows you to transcend and transform your experience of distress. At the same time it builds spiritual merit as you emanate compassion to all sentient beings in the cosmos.

The practice does not require any particular type of posture, incense, prayers or even quiet time. Ideally it is done in the very searing heat of one’s own suffering—in the moment that it is happening.

There are three parts to the practice—focus of attention, mantra, and a union of the view and emanation.

Focus of Attention

Place your awareness in the center of your chest behind the sternum and in front of your spine. This is the general location of your heart chakra, and it is from here that you generate the energies of Great Compassion.

Mantra

The mantra for this practice is that of the Buddha of Infinite Compassion, called Chenrazig (in Tibetan) or Avalokiteshavara (in Sanskrit).

This Buddha has many forms, one of them having a thousand arms and a thousand hands, and in each hand is an eye that witnesses the suffering of beings in samsara. It is vital to understand that this Buddha figure is nothing less than your own highest spiritual nature. It is not separate from you, but rather it is an archetypal being that represents a quality inherent in your own being—compassion.

According to tantric understanding, mantras carry the energy of the deity they correspond to, and the deity resides within the vibratory fields of the mantra itself. But deity in Buddhist tantra is different from the creator gods and goddesses of other religions. These tantric deities are manifestations of powers or aspects of one’s own consciousness. By chanting the mantra silently, or out loud, you activate the residing deity of that mantra. The mantra used in this practice is Om Mani Peme Hum.

The View

In order to enter into the practice of The Mandala of Great Compassion, you first realize that no matter how miserable you are in this moment, there are other beings suffering in similar ways as you.

After you have this clear mental concept in mind, sense yourself at the center of a giant mandala that fills all of space. There is no part or parcel of the universe that is outside this three-dimensional mandala that has you at the center. This is the View.

Emanation

Simply focus your attention in your heart chakra. Breathe naturally and whenever you inhale, silently repeat the mantra so that you feel its subtle vibratory energy in the heart. As you exhale normally, you send the emanations of compassion from your heart out to all other sentient beings who, like you, are suffering in that moment.

There is no need to do anything other than intend that the emanations of the mantra and feelings of compassion be sent out from your heart.

Depending upon your level of sensitivity to such things, you may just experience this as an idea, or you may actually feel the vibrational energies of compassion radiating from your heart chakra to all suffering beings.

If you are aware of spiritual light, you may also see various colored lights emanating from your heart for the benefit of other suffering beings. If any phenomenon arises like lights or sound or other non-ordinary sensory experiences, just let them be. Don’t focus on them. They are not why you are doing this. They are a side-effect of the subtle energies of consciousness.

The reason for doing this practice is that it increases self-awareness around your personal suffering and builds spiritual merit by releasing a beneficial energy into the world.

You do not need to be in suffering to do this practice. You can do it whenever you wish to send beneficial energies to sentient beings. But when you do find yourself in suffering, it changes both the quality and understanding of your own suffering.

The Nature of Compassion

In its root, compassion means to feel with. Thus when we feel compassion for other beings, we feel along with them. This is not the same as sympathy, which is feeling sorry for someone.

Compassion recognizes that we all suffer, and when you extend compassion to another, you are a witness—nothing more and nothing less. And yet through the power of being a loving or caring witness for others, we somehow mysteriously help to transform their as well as our own suffering.

When we feel compassion for another we might, or might not, choose to extend loving kindness. Loving kindness is a mindful action that extends caring to another being. This might take the form of doing something to alleviate suffering as in physical caring or extending ourselves emotionally by simply being present for the person.

One way of looking at the relationship between compassion and loving kindness is that pure compassion is simply being an empathic witness to a situation, while loving kindness extends that compassion into action.

Within this context, The Mandala of Great Compassion, is a subtle form of loving kindness.

Click here to listen to and/or download The Song of Great Compassion

Entering the Buddha FieldsThe Song of Great Compassion was excerpted from a longer sound meditation during a three-day retreat.

In the course of this meditation retreat in 2016, Tom channeled sound codes from various tutelary (meditation) deities for the purposes of spiritual empowerment, illumination and self-liberation.

This event was inspired by beings who reside in the Sambhogakaya, the realm of pure light and sound.

The complete set of workshop recordings consists of 7 CDs or MP3 downloads.

For more information, visit the Store.