Prayer wheels are very common religious objects in Tibetan Buddhism. Prayer wheels are used primarily by the Buddhists of Tibet and Nepal, where hand-held prayer wheels are carried by pilgrims and other devotees and turned during devotional activities. A hand held prayer wheel is a hollow wooden or metal cylinder attached to a handle. Om Mani Padme Hung mantras are printed or etched in relief on the cylinder.
According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, spinning a prayer wheel is just as effective as reciting the sacred texts aloud. Tibetans use prayer wheels to spread spiritual blessings to all sentient beings and invoke good karma in this and next life. They believe that every rotation of a prayer wheel equals one utterance of the mantra, thus the religious practice will in return help them accumulate merits, replace negative effects with positive ones, and hence bring them good karma. Buddhists turn the wheel clockwise.
Rotating these prayer wheels and reciting is considered one of the most thoughtful and beneficial act. Most often build in the periphery of stupas and monasteries, a number of Buddhist prayer wheels might range from a few to hundreds for people to spin them as they walk past or when they rotate around the temple or stupa in a clockwise direction.
It is believed that the prayer through the Buddhist prayer wheels grant everything a worshipper asks for.
There is a heavy belief that turning the Buddhist prayer wheels with remorse and guilt will help you eliminate the four bad deeds, the five actions of immediate retribution, the eight of the wrong views and the ten non-virtues.
Any person who turns the Buddhist prayer wheels in his life shall never again born with any anomalies in his/her life, never born with disorders like blindness, deafness, muteness or as a cripple.
When to Use a Prayer Wheel
There is no any exact definition when it comes to when to use the prayer wheels still, one can turn the prayer wheel anytime during his/her daily meditation or mantra recitals or during when some spiritual practices are performed. But the Buddhist prayer shouldn’t be spun while a Lama is delivering a speech or while he is teaching.
How to Use a Prayer Wheel
The prayer wheel should be turned clockwise with a single-pointed concentration of body, speech, and mind. Turning the Buddhist prayer wheels does not require much physical strength and many repetitions.
Types of Prayer Wheels
- Mani wheel (a hand prayer wheel)
- Water wheels
- Fire wheel
- Wind wheel
- Stationary prayer wheels
- Electric dharma wheels
According to Lama Zopa, Rinpoche, “To benefit sentient beings, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifest in the prayer wheel to purify all our negative karmas and obscurations, and to cause us to actualize the realizations of the path to enlightenment.”
Turning a prayer wheel with millions of mantras inside is the equivalent of saying those millions of mantras, but it is achieved in a fraction of the time. However, the benefit of spinning the wheel with a concentrated mind is said to be one hundred thousand times greater than spinning it with a distracted mind.