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The Wrong Incantation

There was a Buddhist monk who had studied Buddhism for forty years. One day, his master sent him on an errand downhill. It was dark when he went downhill, so he wanted to ask for a night’s lodging in a house. After a long walk, he suddenly saw a place brightly lit and splendidly shining in the hill clouded with darkness. With years of practicing Buddhism, he knew it must be the home of a man of eminent and excellent practice.

The monk walked towards the light. It turned out to be three thatch huts in which lived an old man. He asked the old man what incantation he just chanted embodied such great magic power.

The old man said: “I don’t know. A few years ago, an eminent monk passed by and taught me this incantation. I keep chanting it, but I don’t know what it is called.” The monk said: “Chant to me.”

So the old man chanted “om ma ni pad me um”. His voice was as loud as the sound from a huge bell which can awaken the deaf. At the same time, the place was splendidly shining.

The monk laughed and said: “You chanted the wrong incantation. It is called the Six-Character Great Bright Mantra. You should chant ‘om ma ni pad me hum’.” The old man felt ashamed and expressed immediately his gratitude, “Thank you for pointing out the mistake, or I will chant the wrong one till I die.”

The monk said goodbye the next morning and went back to his master. Considering it as beneficence, he told the story to his master. The master shook his head and sighed after hearing the story. The monk was very confused.

Months later when he passed by the old man’s hut again, the old man chanted the corrected Six-Character Great Bright Mantra, but oddly, the light was gone. He asked his master once he returned. The master said: “You have learned Buddhism from me for forty years. How can you not understand such a simple reason? In his mind, the Six-Character Great Bright Mantra is ‘om ma ni pad me um’. Years after years, this incantation has been entitled to infinite magic. You changed it, so at the same time you ruined it.”

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