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Birger, D.M. (1984). The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: A Mantra and Its Meaning. Robert A. Paul. Pp. 85-91.. Psychoanal Q., 53:488-489.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: A Mantra and Its Meaning. Robert A. Paul. Pp. 85-91.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:488-489

The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981: A Mantra and Its Meaning. Robert A. Paul. Pp. 85-91.

Daniel M. Birger

In this brief and concise article, the author proposes an explanation for the striking prevalence of the mantra utterance, "Om Mani Padme Hum," in the Tibetan

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form of Buddhism. The combination of these syllables has no specific meaning in any language, although "Mani" and "Padme" may be connected to the words "jewel" and "lotus" in Sanskrit. The mantra is addressed specifically to Pawa Cherenzi, a powerful deity of ambiguous sexuality, the creator of our world, progenitor of mankind, and savior of humanity. In a somewhat speculative manner, the author proceeds with a linguistic argument and concludes that the mantra involves sounds referring to mother, i.e., "Om" equals "ma." Father, "Padme," is related to "pa," and "Hum" is again a maternal-related sound. (The maternal utterances have their origin in breast-feeding sounds.) The author draws the conclusion that the mantra is an expression of a process of mastery. At first is the blissful contentment, "Om," which is replaced by deprivation and desire, represented by the father sound, "Padme," and finally the return of the desired object, "Hum." The mantra therefore is a wish fulfillment of preoedipal and oedipal cravings expressed in a regressive preverbal manner and directed to an all-powerful deity from whom salvation is implored.

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Article Citation

Birger, D.M. (1984). The Psychoanalytic Study of Society, IX. 1981. Psychoanal. Q., 53:488-489

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