Suitcase and World: Prayer Wheels and Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Prayer Wheels and Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum.

Prayer Wheels. They're an integral element of practicing Tibetan Bhuddism and before I join the pilgrims in circumambulating the monasteries, I thought I ought to know what they represent so that I can more fully appreciate the experience.

Simply put, a prayer wheel is a device for spreading spiritual blessings and well being. Rolls of thin white paper, imprinted with the mantra (prayer) "Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum", in ancient Indian or Tibetan script, are carefully wrapped and placed inside the wheel and then the opening of the wheel sealed. Typically, the mantra is also inscribed onto the exterior surface of the wheel.

Each of the six syllables of the mantra, Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum,represents a virtue to be attained and a "sin" to be purified of on one's journey towards enlightenment.


There are specific rules surrounding prayer wheels. To start, you must spin the wheel clockwise because this is the direction that the mantras are written in. Before and after you spin the wheel, you must repeat the mantra, or else your prayer will bring no merit. The faster you spin the wheel, the better because each rotation of the wheel carries as much weight as reading the inscription aloud. You must also repeat the mantra as many times as possible during the turning of the wheel and keep a calm, meditative mind. Hmm. This is going to be a challenge as I don't think I've ever had a "calm, meditative mind"..... not even when I'm asleep :-(

I just hope I don't inadvertantly insult a Bhuddist pilgrim as I repeatedly mumble the mantra on my walk around the monasteries.....Ommmm.......Maaaa......Ni.....Paaaad.....Meeee......Huuuum......and again and again!