Recently I formulated my own personal interpretation of this mantra (it occurred to me just this afternoon actually) and I just wonder if it jives with anyone, as it does with me since I find it so intuitive.
Om – I regard this syllable as representing the Primal Unity of Being, as existed previously to all Duality. There is nothing original here, since Om obviously symbolizes something like this in most Eastern traditions. However, moving on….
Ma – I see this syllable as the Emergence of the First Desire, (perhaps the desire for Ma-ma?). This first hankering emerges as it were organically from the original ground of Being or Om, so there is here I think a very natural progression which continues in a logical direction as we go on….
Ni – Here we have, I feel, the first Satisfaction of (a) Desire. Desire crescendos to a climax from hankering to finite-fulfillment, and there is a temporary sense of peace felt herein, akin to having your “needs” met. As we can see, this continues the progression/evolution….
Pad – There is an abruptness and suddenness to this syllable which is somewhat jarring. Before we had a very soft, cadent, almost dreamy progression, but “pad” seems to break this rhythm. I would say that herein is the introduction of pain or privation attendant upon desire and its fulfillment, which serves to “awaken” the practitioner from the dream of duality and the futile longing for fulfillment….
Me – I interpret this to mean a type of disillusionment with desire grounded in the previous syllable. So one can say that herein the practitioner heartily “renounces” or gives up on fulfilling one’s desires as he or she recognizes the sequence of events which take place in the course of time. It is interesting that “Padme” traditionally mean “Lotus” since that is itself symbolic of awakening and turning over a new leaf, and these two syllables appear to reflect the same lesson. "Meh" also is just such an indifferent sound. So "Padme" may mean something like "indifference to pain" in this sense.
Hum – This syllable I take to be symbolic of Enlightenment or spirituality in general, as it is the final logical step in the practitioner’s evolution (and this is in-keeping with other interpretations). I also see the sound as representing ineffability, “hum” resembling a mystical wind which renders all our concepts obsolete and inadequate to the Reality.
I’m very eager to find out if anyone has come across a similar or even identical interpretation to this one! It seems very natural to me and I’ve enjoyed meditating upon this mantra with this meaning and think I’ll incorporate it into my practice as time goes on.