Prayer wheel

A prayer wheel is a cylindrical wheel (Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ།, Wylie: khor lo) on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Newari language of Nepal, on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. At the core of the cylinder is a "Life Tree" often made of wood or metal with certain mantras written on or wrapped around it. Many thousands (or in the case of larger prayer wheels, millions) of mantras are then wrapped around this life tree. The Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is most commonly used, but other mantras may be used as well. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers.

Tibetan monastery Prayer Wheel
Prayer wheels in Mussoorie, India.
Prayer Wheels
A little boy rolling the prayer wheels at Swayambhunath, Nepal.
Candle-powered prayerwheel
Butter-lamp-powered prayer wheel. Manali, India
Water prayer wheel
Water-powered prayer wheel. Spiti valley, India

Nomenclature and etymology

Prayer wheel or Mani wheel (Tibetan: མ་ནི་ཆོས་འཁོར་, Wylie: mani-chos-'khor). The Tibetan term is a contraction: "Mani" itself is a contraction of Sanskrit cintamani; "chos" is Tibetan for Dharma; and "khor" or "khorlo" means chakrano.

Origins

The first prayer wheels, which are driven by wind, have been used in Tibet and China since the fourth century.[1] The concept of the prayer wheel is a physical manifestation of the phrase "turning the wheel of Dharma," which describes the way in which the Buddha taught. Prayer Wheels originated from ‘The School of Shakyamuni sutra, volume 3 – pagoda and temple’ which states that, “those who set up the place for worship, use the knowledge to propagate the dharma to common people, should there be any man or woman who are illiterate and unable to read the sutra, they should then set up the prayer wheel to facilitate those illiterate to chant the sutra, and the effect is the same as reading the sutra”[2]

According to the Tibetan tradition, the prayer wheel lineage traces back to the famous Indian master, Arya Nagarjuna. Tibetan texts also say that the practice was taught by the Indian Buddhist masters Tilopa and Naropa as well as the Tibetan masters Marpa and Milarepa.[3]

Practice

Prayer drum in the St. Petersburg Buddhist temple
Prayer wheel in the St. Petersburg Buddhist temple
IMG 0996 Lhasa Barkhor
An elderly Tibetan woman with a prayer wheel

According to the lineage texts on prayer wheels, prayer wheels are used to accumulate wisdom and merit (good karma) and to purify negativities (bad karma). In Buddhism, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have created a variety of skillful means (upaya) to help bring practitioners ever closer to realizing enlightenment. The idea of spinning mantras relates to numerous Tantric practices whereby the Tantric practitioner visualizes mantras revolving around the nadis and especially around the meridian chakras such as the heart and crown. Therefore, prayer wheels are a visual aid for developing one's capacity for these types of Tantric visualizations. The spiritual method for those practicing with a prayer wheel is very specific (with slight variations according to different Buddhist sects). The practitioner most often spins the wheel clockwise, as the direction in which the mantras are written is that of the movement of the sun across the sky. On rare occasions, advanced Tantric practitioners such as Senge Dongma, the Lion-Faced Dakini, spin prayer wheels counterclockwise to manifest a more wrathful protective energy. As the practitioner turns the wheel, it is best to focus the mind and repeat the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. Not only does this increase the merit earned by the wheel's use, but it is a mind-stabilization technique that trains the mind while the body is in motion. Intoning the mani mantra with mindfulness and the "Bodhicitta" motivation dramatically enhances the effects of the prayer wheel. However, it is said that even turning it while distracted has benefits and merits, and it is stated in the lineage text that even insects that cross a prayer wheel's shadow will get some benefit. Each revolution is as meritorious as reading the inscription aloud as many times as it is written on the scroll, and this means that the more Om Mani Padme Hum mantras that are inside a prayer wheel, the more powerful it is. It is best to turn the wheel with a gentle rhythm and not too fast or frantically. While turning smoothly, one keeps in mind the motivation and spirit of compassion and bodhichitta (the noble mind that aspires to full enlightenment for the benefit of all beings). The benefits attributed to the practice of turning the wheel are vast. Not only does it help wisdom, compassion and bodhichitta arise in the practitioner, it also enhances siddhis (spiritual powers such as clairvoyance, precognition, reading others thoughts, etc.). The practitioner can repeat the mantra as many times as possible during the turning of the wheel, stabilizing a calm, meditative mind. At the end of a practice session, there is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition of dedicating any accumulated merits that one may have gathered during practice to the benefit of all sentient beings. Then Om Ah Hum 3 times. This is customary with Tibetans upon completing any Buddhist practice, including the practice of the prayer wheel.

Prayer wheels at Nechung Chok
Prayer wheels at Nechung Chok, Lhasa.
Pilgrims, Tsurphu 1993
Pilgrim with prayer wheel, Tsurphu Monastery, 1993.
Electric prayer wheels at Samye Ling in Scotland, 2009. (8 seconds)

Thubten Zopa Rinpoche has commented that installing a prayer wheel has the capacity to completely transform a place, which becomes "...peaceful, pleasant, and conducive to the mind." Simply touching a prayer wheel is said to bring great purification to negative karmas and obscurations.

Types

Mani wheel

The mani wheel, or hand prayer wheel, has a cylindrical, generally sheet-metal body (often beautifully embossed) mounted on a metal shaft or pin set into a wooden or metal handle that turns on a circular bearing commonly made of Turbinella (conch) shell. The cylinder itself is affixed with a cord or chain terminating in a metal weight allowing it to be spun by a slight rotation of the wrist. The weighted chain, known as a “governor” in Western technology, stabilizes the wheel and keeps it spinning with less input from the practitioner than would otherwise be the case. The common term, “prayer wheel” is a double misnomer. A long strip of rolled-up paper bearing printed or inscribed mantras (Tib. mani) rather than prayers, per se, is inside the cylinder. “Mill,” defined as “a spinning object that generates something,” is a better translation of the Tibetan ‘khor-lo than is “wheel” since it is thought that the spinning cylinder emanates positive energy, allowing the practitioner to accumulate wisdom and merit. The Tibetan name of this device is mani-chos-'khor (མ་ནི་ཆོས་འཁོར་).

Water wheels

This type of prayer wheel is simply a prayer wheel that is turned by flowing water. The water that is touched by the wheel is said to become blessed and carries its purifying power into all life forms in the oceans and lakes that it feeds into.

Fire wheel

This wheel is turned by the heat of a candle or electric light. The light emitted from the prayer wheel then purifies the negative karmas of the living beings it touches.

Wind wheel

This type of wheel is turned by wind. The wind that touches the prayer wheel helps alleviate the negative karma of those it touches.

Stationary prayer wheels

Many monasteries around Tibet have large, fixed, metal wheels set side by side in a row. Passersby can turn the entire row of wheels simply by sliding their hands over each one.

Electric dharma wheels

Some prayer wheels are powered by electric motors. "Thardo Khorlo," as these electric wheels are sometimes known, contain one thousand copies of the mantra of Chenrezig and many copies of other mantras. The Thardo Khorlo can be accompanied by lights and music if one so chooses

Electricity can certainly be considered similar to the above sources of energy for PW (water, fire, wind). The merit generated by the PW is due to the power of the Dharma Texts and Mantras; not necessarily the "power" which rotates them. These PW turn all day, all night, all thru the year. The Lamas and practitioners who build, maintain and pay for the electricity rightly help to generate and dedicate the merit.

See also

References

  • Schlagintweit L.L.D., Emil (1863). Buddhism in Tibet. Augustus M. Kelley, 1969.
  • Wright, A.R. (1904). Tibetan Prayer wheels. Folklore Enterprises.
  • Tibetan Prayer Wheels
  • "All about the ... Prayer Wheel". khandro.net.
  • "The Prayer Wheel". dharma-haven.org.
  • "prayer wheels and how they work". Nyingma Centers.
  • Ladner, Lorne (2000). Wheel of Great Compassion. Wisdom Publications.
  • Lucas, Adam (2006). Wind, Water, Work: Ancient and Medieval Milling Technology. Brill Publishers. p. 105. ISBN 90-04-14649-0.

Gallery

Prayer wheels in Samye
Prayer wheels at Samye Monastery.
Swayambhunath Prayer Wheels
Girls Turning the prayer wheels at Swayambhunath Stupa, Kathmandu.
Tibetan Child with Prayer Wheel

Tibetan child with a prayer wheel

Yellow Lamas with Prayer Wheels

1905 illustration of monks with prayer wheels

Stupa & prayer wheels. Main street, McLeod Ganj

Stupa & prayer wheels. Main street, McLeod Ganj.

Bundesarchiv Bild 135-S-07-24-11, Tibetexpedition, Mönch mit Gebetsmühle

Monk with prayer wheel. 1938

Prayer Wheels at the Potala in Lhasa

Prayer wheels at the base of the Potala in Lhasa, Tibet.

Zhongdian-rueda-oracion-c01

A Prayer wheel at Dukezong Temple in Shangri-La County, Yunnan.

PrayerWheelsRumtek

Prayer Wheels in the Rumtek Monastery

Hand crafted wooden prayer wheel

A wooden prayer wheel by holy land prayer wheels

Edmund Hillary Arms

Three prayer wheels in the coat of arms of Sir Edmund Hillary

Rumtek Monastery - Prayer Wheel

Rumtek Monastery - Prayer Wheel

Swayambhunath prayer wheels

Rolling metal prayer wheels circling the Swayambhunath stupa, Kathmandu

References

  1. ^ Lucas, Adam (2006). Wind, Water, Work: Ancient and Medieval Milling Technology. Brill Publishers. p. 105. ISBN 90-04-14649-0.
  2. ^ "Vairocana Buddha Prayer Wheel". Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
  3. ^ The Wheel of Great Compassion: The Practice of the Prayer Wheel in Tibetan Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 2000.)

External links

Abhidharmadīpa

The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Akshobhya

Akshobhya (Sanskrit: अक्षोभ्य, Akṣobhya, "Immovable One"; simplified Chinese and Japanese: 阿閦如来; pinyin: Āchùrúlái; ) is one of the Five Wisdom Buddhas, a product of the Adibuddha, who represents consciousness as an aspect of reality. By convention he is located in the east of the Diamond Realm and is the lord of the Eastern Pure Land Abhirati ('The Joyous'). His consort is Lochanā and he is normally accompanied by two elephants. His color is blue-black and his attributes include a bell, three robes, and staff, as well as a jewel, lotus, prayer wheel, and sword. He has several emanations.

Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard (born April 30, 1945) is an American author, best known for her narrative prose in both fiction and non-fiction. She has published works of poetry, essays, prose, and literary criticism, as well as two novels and one memoir. Her 1974 work Pilgrim at Tinker Creek won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. From 1980, Dillard taught for 21 years in the English department of Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut.

Buddhism in Venezuela

Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.

However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.

There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.

E6B

The E6B flight computer, nicknamed the "whiz wheel" or "prayer wheel", is a form of circular slide rule used in aviation and one of the very few analog calculating devices in widespread use in the 21st century.

They are mostly used in flight training, because these flight computers have been replaced with electronic planning tools or software and websites that make these calculations for the pilots. These flight computers are used during flight planning (on the ground before takeoff) to aid in calculating fuel burn, wind correction, time en route, and other items. In the air, the flight computer can be used to calculate ground speed, estimated fuel burn and updated estimated time of arrival. The back is designed for wind vector solutions, i.e., determining how much the wind is affecting one's speed and course.

Emblem of Sikkim

The Emblem of Sikkim, also called Kham-sum-wangdu (Sikkimese: ༄༅།ཁམས་གསུམ་དབང་འདུས།), is used by the Government of Sikkim as its symbol. It was designed in 1877 by Robert Taylor in European style and previously the coat of arms during the latter period of the Sikkimese monarchy.

Flag of the Kingdom of Sikkim

The Flag of the Kingdom of Sikkim was the national flag of the Kingdom of Sikkim, consisting a Buddhist khorlo prayer wheel with the gankyil as the central element.

Lhalung Monastery

Lhalung Monastery, Lhalun Monastery or Lalung Monastery (also known as the Sarkhang or Golden Temple), was one of the earliest monasteries founded in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, India, by the great Tibetan Buddhist lotswa (translator) Rinchen Zangpo, the king of western Himalayan Kingdom of Guge during the late 10th century CE. The altitude of the neighbouring village of Lhalun is 3,658 metres (12,001 feet).The name Lhalun literally means 'land of the gods' (lha = deities, devtas; lung = land, area) and it is said that the Lhalung Devta is head of all the Devtas of the valley and emerges from the Tangmar mountain beyond the village. This mountain is said to change colour depending on the moods of the devtas or deities; red showing anger, yellow, happiness, etc.The village has 45 homes is 14 km from the main road and is the largest in the Lingti valley. At some places remains of an ancient wall encircling all the monastery buildings may be found. It is probable that, like Tabo, it was designed as a choshor site, a place for learning and debate as opposed to a simple village monastery or a chapel for worship by the local people. There is also a sacred tree here which may be as old as the earliest monastery.

"The Lha-lun monastery, built by Rin-chen-bZang-po, was originally a Kah-dam-pa (Kadampa) establishment to which the Great Lotsaba belonged. But it might have turned into a Sa-kya-pa (Sakyapa) stronghold in the 14th century. Some of the damaged temples at Lha-lun may be the spoils of that period. In the 17th century, this monastery was annexed to the Ge-lug-pa (Gelugpa) fold by the Mongold despite the Sa-kya-pa (Sakyapa) resistance and, a loss of a few more temples. Thus out of the nine temples of the Lotsaba's time, only one now remains...."

For a sketched floor plan of the one remaining temple of Lhalung Monastery see Handa (1987), p. 87.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is a 1974 nonfiction narrative book by American author Annie Dillard. Told from a first-person point of view, the book details an unnamed narrator's explorations near her home, and various contemplations on nature and life. The title refers to Tinker Creek, which is outside Roanoke in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Dillard began writing Pilgrim in the spring of 1973, using her personal journals as inspiration. Separated into four sections that signify each of the seasons, the narrative takes place over the period of one year.

The book records the narrator's thoughts on solitude, writing, and religion, as well as scientific observations on the flora and fauna she encounters. Touching upon themes of faith, nature, and awareness, Pilgrim is also noted for its study of theodicy and the inherent cruelty of the natural world. The author has described it as a "book of theology", and she rejects the label of nature writer. Dillard considers the story a "single sustained nonfiction narrative", although several chapters have been anthologized separately in magazines and other publications. The book is analogous in design and genre to Henry David Thoreau's Walden (1854), the subject of Dillard's master's thesis at Hollins College. Critics often compare Dillard to authors from the Transcendentalist movement; Edward Abbey in particular deemed her Thoreau's "true heir".

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was published by Harper's Magazine Press shortly after Dillard's first book, a volume of poetry titled Tickets for a Prayer Wheel. Since its initial publication, Pilgrim has been lauded by critics. It won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-fiction, and in 1998 it was included in Modern Library's list of 100 Best Nonfiction Books.

Prayer flag

A Tibetan prayer flag is a colorful rectangular cloth, often found strung along trails and peaks high in the Himalayas. They are used to bless the surrounding countryside and for other purposes. Prayer flags are believed to have originated with Bon. In Bon, shamanistic Bonpo used primary-colored plain flags in Tibet. Traditional prayer flags include woodblock-printed text and images.

Sawtooth Botanical Garden

The Sawtooth Botanical Garden (5 acres) is a high-altitude botanical garden located off Highway 75 at 11 Gimlet Road, Ketchum, Idaho, United States. It is open to the public.

The garden was founded in 1994. It now includes a stream-side garden, ornamental garden, xeriscape garden, research area, a greenhouse (1550 square feet) displaying flowering perennials, herbs, and vines, and a main building.

In August 2005 a notable new garden was constructed, the Garden of Infinite Compassion, designed by landscape designer Martin Mosko, Zen Buddhist monk and abbot of the Hakubai Temple in Boulder, Colorado. It is an alpine garden with osteospurmum, arabis, arnica, alpine asters, poppies, orchids, columbine, and Lewisii, set with a waterfall, reflecting pond, and 16 rocks of up to 30 tons each, representing the 16 Buddhist arhats. The garden was built for a visit from the 14th Dalai Lama on September 13, 2005, who blessed the garden and a finely carved 400 pound Tibetan prayer wheel filled with over one million written mantras, one of only two such prayer wheels to be erected in the United States. Rather unusually, the prayer wheel is turned by the stream rather than by hand.

Sixpence None the Richer

Sixpence None the Richer (also known as Sixpence) is an American Christian alternative rock band that formed in New Braunfels, Texas, eventually settling in Nashville, Tennessee. They are best known for their songs "Kiss Me" and "Breathe Your Name" and their covers of "Don't Dream It's Over" and "There She Goes". The name of the band is inspired by a passage from the book Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The band received two Grammy Award nominations, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "Kiss Me" and Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album for Sixpence None the Richer.

Tibetan Buddhist architecture

Tibetan Buddhist architecture, in the cultural regions of the Tibetan people, has been highly influenced by Nepal, China and India. For example, the Buddhist prayer wheel, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every temple in Tibet. Many of the houses and monasteries are typically built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south. Rocks, wood, cement and earth are the primary building materials. Flat roofs are built to conserve heat and multiple windows are constructed to let in the sunlight. Due to frequent earthquakes, walls are usually sloped inward at 10 degrees.

The Potala Palace is considered the most important example of Tibetan architecture. Formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama, it contains over a thousand rooms within thirteen stories. Portraits of the past Dalai Lamas and statues of the Buddha are on display. The palace is divided between the outer White Palace (which serves as the administrative quarters), and the inner Red Quarters (which houses the assembly hall of the Lamas, chapels, 10,000 shrines, and a vast library of Buddhist scriptures).Temples and monasteries were all built by Tibetan Buddhist followers. All decorations—plated statues, elaborate frescoes, and expensive silk hangings—were all bought and paid for by donations. The following list contains only a portion of all Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries, as many of the Monasteries were destroyed when Tibet was annexed by China.

Tibetan prayer wheel

Prayer Wheels (Tibetan: mani ´khor lo) are widely used in Tibet and areas where Tibetan culture is predominant.

Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (book)

Tickets for a Prayer Wheel is a book of poetry by Annie Dillard first published in 1974. The poems are based on the author's quest for spiritual knowledge.

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