The Prayer Wheel (or Dharma Wheel) is an ancient spiritual tool and a vital part of Tibetan daily life. It is turned at every opportunity in order to activate and extend the blessings of compassion, harmony, and peace to all sentient beings.
Two thousand years ago, the famed Buddhist master Nagarjuna determined that setting the Buddha's printed words in motion activated the same blessings as reciting them with the human voice. 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 contain the words of the Buddha, teachings of wisdom and compassion, printed on rolls of paper that are glued together and wrapped by hand. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside, while the tightly wound scroll on the inside can have a variety of Tibetan prayers that are repeated thousands of times. As a result, each single revolution generates the merit of reciting an immense volume of prayers.
PRODUCING NEW WHEELS
In 1970, Tarthang Rinpoche, Head Lama of the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, selected a collection of mantras that were especially beneficial for the times, and trained his students in the traditional method of preparing, printing, and rolling the text for prayer wheels. Instead of handles, which were common for smaller wheels, Rinpoche covered the rolled texts with cloth and mounted them on turntables, harnessing electricity to set the ancient mantras in perpetual motion. In recent years, Tarthang Rinpoche has applied modern computerized typesetting and printing techniques to create wheels equal in content to the largest wheels ever produced in Tibet. This new generation of prayer wheels emulates the traditional Mani Dong-khor, the ten-million mantra wheel highly valued in Tibet.
PRAYER WHEEL DISTRIBUTION
Tibetan Aid Project, in partnership with the Nyingma Center Prayer Wheel Project (http://www.nyingma.org/PrayerWheels/index.html) is currently preparing traditional Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels that contain mantras of peace, compassion, and protection. These are installed at our local centers and are also distributed to religious practitioners and monasteries at the annual World Peace Ceremony in Bodh Gaya, India. To date, Tibetan Aid Project has helped fund the production and distribution of over 123,000 small handmade prayer wheels to the participants in the World Peace Ceremony, in addition to 10,000 large wheels.