THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A PRAYER WHEEL
A Buddhist prayer wheel, often referred to as a Mani wheel in Tibetan language, is typically a hollow cylindrical wheel made of metal, wood, or stone, often beautifully embossed, mounted on a precious metal or wooden handle or axis. It is an inseparable part of Tibetan and Buddhist tradition.
The Buddhist prayer wheels are used as a meditation aid and as a means of accumulating wisdom, good karma, and a way to set aside bad karmas and negative energy. The inner part of the hollow cylinder contains a tightly rolled up paper or other material, filled with printed or hand-written mantras. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have roughly the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers.
BENEFITS OF THE PRAYER WHEEL
Prayer wheels come in various sizes: they can be small and attached to a stick, and spun by hand; medium-sized and installed in monasteries or temples; or very large and continually spun by a water mill. But small hand-held wheels are by far the most common. Simply touching and spinning a prayer wheel brings incredible purification and accumulates immense merits. It is believed that the more prayers one does, the more merit one gains, which increases one's chances of receiving a superior reincarnation and attaining nirvana.
TYPE OF PRAYER WHEELS
Buddhist prayer wheels vary greatly in terms of size and style. They can be a simple handheld prayer wheel, a tabletop prayer wheel, or a huge prayer wheel that is 2 to 3 meters high with a diameter of 1.5 to 2 meters. There are many types of Tibetan/Buddhist prayer wheels:
- Mani Wheel (a hand-held prayer wheel)
- Water Wheels (operated by flowing water)
- Fire Wheel (operated by the heat of a candle or electric lamp)
- Wind Wheel (a type of prayer wheel spun by the wind)
- Stationary prayer wheels
- Electric Dharma wheels (operated by electric motors)
- Wheels offering automatic rotation due to solar energy and a solar panel placed on top
MEANING OF THE MANTRA IN THE BUDDHIST PRAYER WHEEL
Most prayer wheels contain the six-syllable mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum". The meaning of the six syllables in the Buddhist prayer wheel is as follows:
- Om : Om is a Sanskrit sound of Hindu origin, also sacred and significant in Buddhism and Jainism. Om represents generosity and, when chanted, it purifies pride/ego from the human body. It is represented by the color white.
- Ma : Ma represents jealousy, ethics, and thirst for entertainment in the human body. It is represented by the color green.
- Ni : Ni represents patience and purifies passion/desire in the human body. It is represented by the color yellow.
- Pad : Pad represents diligence and purifies ignorance/prejudice in the human body. It is represented by the color blue.
- Me : Me represents renunciation and purifies poverty/possession in the human body. It is represented by the color red.
- Hum : Hum represents wisdom and purifies aggressiveness/hatred in the human body. It is represented by the color black.
WHEN TO USE A PRAYER WHEEL?
There isn't an exact definition of when one uses prayer wheels, but they can be spun at any time during daily meditation, mantra recitations, or spiritual practices. One can also spin the prayer wheel while watching TV, listening to music, or reading books, in addition to all other daily activities.
HOW TO USE A PRAYER WHEEL?
The prayer wheel should be spun in the clockwise direction with a unique concentration of body, speech, and mind. It is easy and quick to spin the prayer wheel and it does not require a lot of physical strength or many repetitions.
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