The prayer wheel or mani wheel (handheld version) is typically made from leather, stone, metal and wood although rough cotton is sometimes used.
The prayer wheel is a spindle decorated with the Sanskrit mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ although variations of this are possible.
The prayer wheel allows the teaching of Buddha “turning the wheel of Dharma” to be made into a physical action.
Prayer wheels are normally turned clockwise, matching the sun’s movement across the sky and are used to boost positive karma and reduce negative karma. The mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ is repeated while the wheel turns.
Different Types of Prayer Wheels
A fire prayer wheel is one which is turned by the heat of a flame or even the heat of an electric light. The light the fire wheel gives off is able to help purify the negative karma of any living being it shines on.
Fixed-place Prayer Wheels
In Tibet many monasteries have large fixed-place metal wheels in a row. Visitors and travellers can begin to spin the entire row by letting their hand slide over the row.
The handheld version of the prayer wheel sometimes makes use of a cord of chain so that it can be spun with just a small rotation of the wrist.
Samuari Prayer Wheel
These decorative prayer wheels were not typically used in battle. Originating from Okinawa during the Muromachi period samurais would decorate prayer wheels with a small blade rather than the steel ball as the counter balance.
Wind prayer wheels are light weight constructs which are turned by the wind. The advantage of a wind prayer wheel is that the wind which turns the wheel can then go on to purify any living being it touches.
In Pure Spirit
Have you used a prayer wheel? Some websites offer virtual or animated prayer wheels – do you think these can act in the same way?
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