Tibetan MO Dice Divination Explained

  • Newest update 11/30/2019, originally first compiled on 09/2016.
  • Vietnamese translation available from པདྨ་ཆོས་སྒྲོན Pema Choedon.

Tibetan MO dice divination is an ancient predictive technique. Considered to be the voice and Wisdom of the Mañjuśrī also known as the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, visualized as a male figure wielding a flaming sword in his right hand and in his left hand, he holds the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra as shown in the picture below. The advice given is taken seriously.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many high lamas either practice or consult the MO dice for important decisions, like when faced with a difficult decision, including the selection of tulkus. One way that the MO may be used is to cast a MO for each possible course of action. If there is any ambiguity, additional MOs may be cast until the matter is clarified. The MO has a reputation in Tibet as being a very clear and decisive method for resolving confusion and making decisions.

Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva

Qualifications needed: When performing a divination, an individual is relying on the power vested in him by a particular deity. This power may have been acquired through a connection with the deity in a past life, and minimum requirements reinforced through retreats involving recitation of a mantra as many as one million times, identifying himself with the deity with clear concentration and the generation of divine pride. There are many ways of performing divination related to the practice of various deities. For example, there are divinations dependent on Mañjuśrī, Tara, Vajrapāni, the Five Ḍākinīs, Palden Lhamo, Dorje Yudronma and Tsering Chenga (the Five Long Life Sisters) The motivation for performing divination must be pure. Although anyone can acquire a relationship with a deity through intensive mantra recitation and consequently acquire certain powers, if they are used for unwholesome purposes, they will eventually rebound and bring about an unfortunate rebirth. For a divination to be successful, it is essential that the divinist should have a pure motivation and the person who came for advice believe in the divinist. It is important that they both pray to the Three Jewels, their root and lineage lamas and their deities, mainly Mañjuśrī and other Dharma protectors, for a clear answer. One of the MO prediction manuals can be found in this specific book titled: MO Tibetan Divination System composed by Jamgön Ju Mipham Gyatso and with a forward by His Holiness Sakya Trizin. Jamgön Ju Mipham was a great scholar and saint of the Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and one of the leading figures in the Rimé (non-sectarian) movement in Tibet. The MO prediction manual is based primarily upon the Kālacakra Tantra and supplementary explanations from the Ocean of Ḍākinīs. To use the MO divination one must have a question in mind and roll the dice. The dice’s outcome will indicate an answer in the prediction manual. The answer in the manual should answer your question but may need some interpreting.

PDF file download for educational purposes.
Can be purchased from Amazon.

While there are different forms of MO divination, this form uses a six sided die with Tibetan letters on it, however, one can easily substitute with any traditional regular numbered six-sided dice as shown on the photo on top showing a set of brass dice, numerically replacing each side of the die with the equivalents described in the book manual. After a meditation and invocation of Mañjuśrī the die is cast twice, resulting in one of thirty-six different answers.

Unlike more open ended forms of divination this system is very clear cut. Answers are related to specific topic, each of the 36 results has a different answer for the topics which come usually in the form of advice on prayers and practices.

The topics for example that can be asked are:

  • Family, property, and life
  • Illness (Specify whose illness/health)
  • Goals, intentions, and aims
  • Spiritual practice (The outlook of performing a specific practice)
  • Friends and wealth
  • Guests
  • Enemies
  • Evil spirits
  • Lost items
  • Will is arrive or will it be completed
  • Miscellaneous or uncategorized

The answers tend to come in the form of statements, and advice. You might be told everything is fine, or going to feel suffering with a migrane; you might be told to recite a few mantras, or start eating vegetarian. Along with the answers and visions, each letter has various associations that are similar to Feng Shui practices such as; Directions, elements, colors, body parts, and more. Unlike more open ended forms of divination, the MO dice are often very precise. Whenever a MO Dice divination is requested you can specify what category you want to look into, or a question based on one of those categories, though the first option generally works out best. You will receive instructions and clarification regarding the practices or pujas suggested and any images or mantras relevant to the instructions.

Sometimes one question may pertain to different areas of life.

The following is the basis process of MO:

  1. Resolve on the question. Make it simple, direct, clearly expressed or understood and not open to more than one interpretation. Write it down. Include alternative courses of action, persons, or times if appropriate.
  2. Decide which area(s) of life the question pertains to.
  3. Visualize Mañjuśrī. If you have difficulty visualizing, look at a picture of Mañjuśrī like shown on the picture all the way on top. It would be good to perform this practice before an image of Mañjuśrī in any case as a routine.
  4. Recite the invocation (see below).
  5. Recite the mantra of Mañjuśrī at least three times.
  6. Recite the Pratītyasamutpāda mantra at least once.
  7. Repeat the question.
  8. Blow on the die.
  9. Cast the die and record the result.
  10. Repeat 9. If the divination is concerning an important matter, toss the die two more times.
  11. Examine the first and second syllables of the first throw individually and note any relevant indications or correspondences.
  12. Examine the combination in general, including the image, interpretation, sign, and prediction.
  13. Examine the answer in the context of the area of life.
  14. If a second throw was done, examine the relationship of the syllables of the second throw to those of the first throw with reference to the three possible outcomes.

Formulate a conclusion. If the conclusion is unclear, reformulate the question more explicitly, perhaps with multiple alternatives, and repeat until a clear conclusion emerges. Ask follow-up questions if appropriate. Record the entire proceeding in writing. The Invocation of Mañjuśrī:

“Oṃ! O you glorious Mañjuśrī,
You who possess the Eye of Transcendent Wisdom,
You who see past, present and future without limit,
Please hear me!
By the Power of the Truth of the real,
Interdependently arising Three Jewels and Three Roots,
Please clarify what should be accepted and what discarded.”

The Mantra of Mañjuśrī:

Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

Pratītyasamutpāda Hridaya Dhāraṇī:

Ye Dhaṃmā Hetuppabhavā
Tesaṃ Hetuṃ Tathāgato Āha
Tesaṃca Yo Nirodho
Evaṃ Vādī Mahā Samaṇo

This popular Buddhist mantra explains the Buddhist doctrine of dependent origination Paṭiccasamuppāda. The Sanskrit version is called “Pratītyasamutpāda Hridaya Dhāraṇī of Dependent Origination” also known as The Heart Dhāraṇī. Paṭiccasamuppāda explains that samsara, the process of repeated existences, is perpetuated by a chain of interconnected links of cause and effect; it also reveals the way of breaking this chain and putting an end to the process. Man has been continuing in this Samsara since millenia – through countless aeons-millenia upon millenia.

Oṃ is added to the beginning of the verse, and Svāhā added at the end, turning the passage into a mantra based on the power of truth (satyagraha).

“Of things that proceed from a cause
Their cause the Tathāgata has told
And also their cessation
Thus teaches the great ascetic.”

  • ཀརྨ་རྡོ་རྗེ། Karma Dorje compiled on 9/2016.

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