Permaculture Designers Manual
CHAPTER 4 – PATTERN UNDERSTANDING
Section 4.23 –
The Mnemonics of Meaning in Permaculture
Buddhists remind themselves of the pattern of events with their oft-repeated chant “Om mani pad me hum”; pronounced “Aum ma-ni pay-may hung” by Tibetans and Nepalese, and meaning:
Om: the jewel in the lotus: hum
As Peter Matthiessen explains it (The Snow Leopard, Picador, 1980):
Aum: (signing on) is the awakening or beginning harmonic, the sound of all stillness and the sounds of all time; it is the fundamental harmonic that recalls to us the universe itself.
Ma-ni: The unchanging essence or diamantine core of all phenomena; the truth, represented as a diamond, jewel, or thunderbolt. It is sometimes represented in paintings as a blue orb or a radiant jewel and sometimes as a source of lightning or fire.
Pay-may: “Enfolded in the heart of the lotus” (mani enfolded). The visible and everyday unfolding of events, petals, or patterns thus revealing the essential unchanged core (mani) to our understanding. The core itself, or the realization of it, is nirvana (the ideal state of Buddhism). The lotus represents the implicate order of tessellated and annidated events, and the process of unfolding the passage of time to successive revelations. At the core is unchanging understanding.
Hung: (signing off): “It is here, now.” A declamation of belief of the chanter in the words. It also prefaces the”Om” or beginning of the new chant cycle, although in a long sequence of such short chants, all words follow their predecessors. This is the reminder mnemonic of implicate time; all events are present now, and forever repeated in their form.
DORJE, or Dorje-chang, is the Tibetan Buddha figure who holds the dorje (thunderbolt), represented as a radiant stone which symbolizes cosmic energy.
Dorje is “‘the primordial Buddha of Tibet“, who began the great succession of current and past reincarnations. His color is blue, for eternity, and he may carry a bell to signify the voiceless wisdom of the inanimate, or the sound of the void.
Dorje is an alter ego of Thor of the Norsemen, Durga of the Hindu and of thunderbolts and “thunderers” of other tribal peoples.
The mani or stone of Thor was Mjollnir, his hammer, from which derives Mjollnirstaun, and (eventually) Mollison (by way of invasions into Scotland, and migrations).
Thus, even our own names may remind us of the essential oneness of the events and beliefs around us.
We can choose from tribal chants, arts, and folk decoration many such mnemonic patterns, which in their evolution over the ages express very much the same world concept as does modern physics and biology.
Such thoughtful and vivid beliefs come close to realizing the actual nature of the observed events around us, and are derived from a contemplation of such events, indicating a way of life and a philosophy rather than a dogma or set of measures.
Beliefs so evolved precede, and transcend, the emphasis on the individual, or the division of life into disciplines and categories.
When we search for the roots of belief or more specifically meaning, we come again and again to the oneness underlying science, word, song, art and pattern: “The jewel in the heart of the lotus”.
Thus we see that many world beliefs share an essential core, but we also see the drift from such nature-based and essentially universal systems towards personalized or humanoid gods, dogma, and fanaticism, and to symbols without meaning or use in our lives, or to our understanding of life.
Many other world concepts based on the analogies of rainbows, serpents, and song cycles relate to aspects of the integrated world view and are found in American Indian and Australian Tribal cultures.