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Of all the bodhisattvas I’ve encountered on my journey so far, Padmasambhava is one of the most appealing. Coming over like an 8th century action hero, he is a historical figure credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. That fact alone would be enough to establish him as a great man, but his unlimited energy and supreme wisdom have seen him raised to the pantheon (is that really the right word?) of bohdisattvas.

There are plenty places where details of his life can be found (here’s one – warning! pdf!) so in brief…

Padmasambhava was allegedly not born, but incarnated as an 8-year-old boy in a lotus in the middle of a lake. He was taken in by a local king and trained in the dharma; before long it became obvious to all that he was supremely accomplished, particularly in the realm of siddhi. This translates literally as ‘perfection’ but has aslo come to mean supernatural powers. He was said to have dispatched an enemy by these means, leading to his exile and eventual arrival in Tibet, where he was said to use the same siddhi to tame the demons ravaging the kingdom and establish the dharma. Phew.

I’ve also recently discovered his mantra, through which it appears to be possible to access a little of Padamasambhava’s energy. Get chanting!

Om A Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum

The usual thing applies about mantras being essentially untranslatable, but there’s something in this along the lines of ‘Indestructible teacher of supreme perfect enlightenment’.

Padmasmbhava is understandably revered in Tibetan buddhism. Tibetan buddhism is characterised by it’s rich symbolic nature, so we must remember that the guy in the picture above is an archetype rather than the real historical figure of Padmasambhava, if there even was such a person. He’s there, I think to remind us that enlightenment doesn’t just come to those who sit around smiling faintly, there’s a whole lot of energy involved in bringing the qualities of meditation and wisdom (both of which Padmasambhava embodies) to their conclusion.

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