Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

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Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Sonrisa » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:07 am

I recently went to an event where they had this mini little prayer wheel. I've read about these before. So, I spun the prayer wheel with my compassionate wishes for all sentient beings.

I am not a Vajrayana practitioner (just your plain Pure land Mahayana practitioner here). Would it be inappropriate for me to use a prayer wheel with the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra (the hand held portable ones that people carry around with them and spin them around)?

Even though I practice non-Vajrayana Mahayana, I have become heavily influenced by Tibetan practices from prostrations to the use of its rich symbolism. Though I make sure not to do the stuff that requires empowerment. My soon to be shrine will have a picture of the Medicine Buddha depicted in Tibetan style art. The symbolism in Tibetan Buddhism helps me a lot in my practice.

I like the visualization of sending my prayers of well-being throughout the universe

Would one need empowerment to use a Mani wheel?
Last edited by Sonrisa on Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:14 am

I doubt very much you would need empowerment. Prayer wheels are commonly placed in pretty public places, which is not something one would do if it were a restricted practice.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Ogyen » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:15 am

Prayer wheels are for anyone, I have never known of them to be for Vajrayanists only...
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Sonrisa » Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:57 am

Thanks :)

If I get a prayer wheel, I will use it exactly for the purpose, for generating metta. The prayer wheels Im talking about are the ones like these.
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Namo Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva

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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 15, 2010 6:55 am

Sonrisa wrote:Thanks :)

If I get a prayer wheel, I will use it exactly for the purpose, for generating metta. The prayer wheels Im talking about are the ones like these.



Very nice, go for it! But be careful. I once saw a lama demonstrate that it is quite possible to knock a microphone nearly off it's stand with that spinning counterweight. Much hilarity ensued.

I suppose it would be easy to smack oneself in the head with it too, but hey, it's a prayer wheel, it would probably turn out to be beneficial!
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:59 am

Sonrisa,

Everything you've mentioned is perfectly fine and wonderful. Best wishes for your practice.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby narraboth » Mon Nov 15, 2010 1:54 pm

it's fine to use it openly UNLESS you know someone is really against it and he will criticise it when he sees it.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Individual » Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:50 pm

Wikipedia has a fundamental rule (I'd call it the first rule of Wikipedia):

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

I apply the same thing to everyday life -- even the law.

If something is considered "forbidden," because of some rule, if the rule stands in the way of doing something useful or important, ignore it.

It's possible you lack discernment and create problems by breaking the rule. But it's also possible that the rule is wrong and simply isn't universally applicable; no rules are universally applicable.

With this sort of thing, it might be a good idea to keep it to yourself, though. Most people have no appreciation for this kind of spirituality. They're like ideologies -- democrats and republicans -- and if you borrow ideas from this or that ideology because they seem useful or true, all of them, all of the ideologies think you're stupid and hate you.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby Pema Rigdzin » Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:10 am

Individual wrote:Wikipedia has a fundamental rule (I'd call it the first rule of Wikipedia):

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

I apply the same thing to everyday life -- even the law.

If something is considered "forbidden," because of some rule, if the rule stands in the way of doing something useful or important, ignore it.

It's possible you lack discernment and create problems by breaking the rule. But it's also possible that the rule is wrong and simply isn't universally applicable; no rules are universally applicable.

With this sort of thing, it might be a good idea to keep it to yourself, though. Most people have no appreciation for this kind of spirituality. They're like ideologies -- democrats and republicans -- and if you borrow ideas from this or that ideology because they seem useful or true, all of them, all of the ideologies think you're stupid and hate you.


Don't suppose this reasoning is somehow absent in Mahayana Buddhism. The bodhisattva vows, for instance, include a vow to use one's wisdom and break a vow in an instance when the greater good would be served in doing so... the problem is having the wisdom to know when that's actually the case and how to go about it.

That aside, there's seems to be a lot you've not yet learned about tantra and the nature and purpose of tantric vows, as well as the reasons why it might not be appropriate or even that beneficial for someone to engage in tantric practices without receiving empowerment, oral transmission, and thorough instructions. It has nothing to do with rules for the sake of rules and everything to do with the functions of empowerment, etc and the creation of an experiential, karmic, AND intellectual basis from which to proceed on the tantric path. In any case, use of a prayer wheel has nothing to do with any of that, which is why everyone encouraged Sonrisa to spin hers till her heart's content.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby spiritnoname » Sat Nov 27, 2010 12:40 am

Hmm,.. I don't know the origin of prayer wheels, I suspect it is from Bon, not Indian masters.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby kirtu » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:51 pm

spiritnoname wrote:Hmm,.. I don't know the origin of prayer wheels, I suspect it is from Bon, not Indian masters.


I had thought so but I came across something more recently that implied their existence in Indian Buddhism. I'll see if I can trace that down.

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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby tamdrin » Mon Nov 29, 2010 4:47 pm

I believe there are several prayer wheel lineages. They do come from Indian masters. One of the lineages came through Tilopa through to Marpa Milarepa Gampopa etc, ANother came from Nagarjuna to the lion faced dakini and Padmasambhava... It is in Lama Zopa Rinpoche's book about prayer wheels..
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby spiritnoname » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:09 am

Tamdrin seriously?

Well I shouldn't be surprised when my assumptions are found to be mistaken hahaha.
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Re: Are prayer wheels inappropriate to use outside Vajrayana?

Postby tamdrin » Wed Dec 01, 2010 8:21 pm

The story actually goes that Nagarjuna got in a prophecy that the Naga's had been holding onto a dharma wheel that liberates beings from the three lower realms. The nagas said that the prayer wheel had been given to them by a past Buddha -marmeydze (Che Nga Ru in Tibetan I believe). And that it had given them much happiness, they gave it to him. He in turn passed it on to the lion faced dakini, who gave it to Tilopa, then Naropa , then Marpa, then Milarepa, then Gampopa to the first Karmapa and then to Karma Pakshi the third Karmapa.. (Karma Pakshi was a highly realized Lama and wrote about the benefits of prayer wheels in his works).
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