Pinyin with tone diacritics: ǎn ma mī bā ní mōu
Pinyin with tone numbers: an3 ma5 mi1 ba1 ni2 mou1
One of several transliterations of om mani padme hum
The magic words which invoke a Chinese spell which serves to discipline the mind.
In the Chinese epic, Journey to the West, the protagonist of the story, the Monkey King (a.k.a. Sun Wu-Kung), is bound with a golden fillet which encircles his head. The band constricts painfully around his skull when the spell is invoked with these words by the goddess Kuan Yin, who gave the Monkey king this crown as well as his other clothing.
The crown serves as a sort of mental leash for him. It is occasionally employed by the goddess from afar to punish the Monkey King when he loses disciplined control of or fails to properly use his mind.
In some tellings of the story, these words are also bound upon his hand to remind him to maintain proper mental discipline.
Since the Monkey King is a symbol of wit and cleverness and other things intellectual, this story and these words can serve to remind us all to keep our wits focused and our minds sharp—and above all—pointed in the right direction.
- Sun Wu-Kung