Tibetan Buddhism is somewhat unique in the sense that it integrates a variety of prayer items into its process of worship. One such item is that of the Prayer Wheel. As more and more people are becoming interested in Tibetan Buddhism, additional interest continues to grow in the peripheral items connected to such worship. That is why many will purchase prayer wheels for their decorative value. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with making such a purchase as prayer wheels do make excellent decorations. However, there is far more to prayer wheels that merely their ability to look nice on a mantel. Such items reflect a deep and rich traditional of Tibetan culture and religious worship that has lasted for many centuries.

For those not familiar with what a prayer wheel is, it can be considered a cylinder made mostly from wood or metal. Mantras are common drawn on the exterior of the wheel and the practice of spinning the wheels can spread the mantras and prayers in the same way evoking them orally would.

A more demonstrative method of achieving this integrates rolls of thin paper placed on axles within the prayer wheel. These think papers will contain many prayers and mantras which are then weaved through the aforementioned axles. As the wheel is spun, the printed prayers will travel through the axels and spread the prayer words into the wind. This concept it similar to the development of a prayer flag which, essentially, serves the same purpose of spreading mantras and invocations via the wind.

Again, while many people in the Western World are discovering the prayer wheel in recent times, it is most definitely not a new invention by any stretch of the imagination. The wheel was first developed in Tiber roughly 1600 years ago taking its inspiration from the words of the Buddha himself. Specifically, there is a phrase attributed to the Buddha that mentions “turning the wheels of the Dharma.” Such words proved to be the inspiration for the development of an actual prayer wheel designed to spread the teaching and beliefs of Buddhism through the turning of the wheel.

The spinning of the wheel and the twirling of the written mantra through its axels is also a symbolic representation of the human body. Specifically, it is intended to represent the flow of energy through the chakras found in the meridian (acupuncture) points of the body. In a way, by being in tune with the energy the wheel projects, it may be possible to interconnect your meridian energy into the energy the prayer wheel is able to present.

Some prayer wheels will also integrate sound vibrations as a means of spreading their mantras. Basically, when the wheel is spun it will resonate vibrations which are intended to tune into the meridian points of the body and create a harmonious synergy of the chakras. This, in turn, can aid in the development of eventually attaining enlightenment since internal spiritual energy is enhanced with the practice.

The prayer wheels are not only believed to be the source of spreading the good words of Buddhism, they are also believed to be able to extract positive things from the environment as well. Specifically, it is possible for a prayer wheel to “capture” good karma and feelings from the natural world as it is spun. In time, the wheel can accumulate a great deal of positive energy while also expunging negative emotions from the vicinity in which it is placed.

There are various different sizes of wheels that can be procured. Most are familiar with ‘furniture’ type wheels that are placed in the home. Again, the decorative value of these wheels motivates people to purchase them. However, it would not be accurate to assume that these are the only size wheels available to own. There are common handheld wheels and then there are also very large prayer wheels that are more akin to mini-monuments. And, of course, there are all manner of sizes in between.

Prayer wheels truly are an amazing innovation from the world of Tibetan Buddhism. Acquiring such a wheel can prove to be a wise move for those that are serious about their study and practice of Buddhism.

Author's Bio: 

Sylvia Smelcer is the author of e-commerce websites selling items about Buddhism and meditation, including sites with Meditation Singing Bowls, Prayer bowls used in meditation, and Buddhist tingshas.