Just as the lotus can exist in muddy water without being soiled, so wisdom can exist in an impure world without becoming contaminated.
And the Dalai Lama points out that just as a jewel can relieve poverty, so the compassionate mind takes away the poverty of unhappiness that exists in the world and replaces it with the wealth of wellbeing." source: http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/avalokitesvara
The Mani mantra is the most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, and open to anyone who feels inspired to practice it -- it does not require prior initiation by a lama (meditation master). The six syllables of the mantra, as it is often pronounced by Tibetans -- Om Mani Padme Hum -- are here written in the Tibetan alphabet reading from left to right the syllables are:
Om (ohm) Ma (mah) Ni (nee) Pad (pahd) Me (may) Hum (hum)
The vowel in the sylable Hu (is pronounced as in the English word 'book'.) The final consonant in that syllable is often pronounced 'ng' as in 'song' -- Om Mani Padme Hung. There is one further complication: The syllable Pad is pronounced Pe (peh) by many Tibetans: Om Mani Peme Hung.