wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

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wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby steveb1 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:31 am

Looking about the Web, I find that there are two perspectives on wearing beads on the wrist or wrapped around the arm (like Richard Gere in some of his "introduction to Buddhism" videos). These seem to be:

1) Never wear them except in services or in private meditation. If you want them to accompany you throughout the day, keep them in a pouch in your pocket, backpack, etc. Popular examples such as HH Dalai Lama are invoked for reverent mala use - which ideally should occur only in "prayer" or special religious occasions. i.e., don't flaunt your beads for social reasons, and sensibly decline to wear them for practical reasons (they can get hung up, caught, break or chip, etc.).

2) No harm in wearing wrist malas, if they remind you of the Dharma throughout the day as a constant assist on the Path. They may even attract fellow Buddhists with whom one might wish to discuss the Dharma. If strangers ask, explain the reason for wearing (e.g., "They help me walk my talk"); or just say you like how they look on your wrist. Thus: wrist malas are not harmful, and they may be of some help spiritually.

Could anyone address this issue, please ... ? Do you use wrist malas, and if so, is your use constant or occasional? Or ... if you do not use them, do you have specific reasons for not wearing them?
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:59 pm

The main point, I think that a mala should not be considered merely as decorative jewelry.
A bead on a string is just a bead on a string.
What you do with it, how you think about it, this is the mind.
This is what is important.
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby Bonsai Doug » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:28 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The main point, I think that a mala should not be considered merely as decorative jewelry.
A bead on a string is just a bead on a string.
What you do with it, how you think about it, this is the mind.
This is what is important.

Agree. A mala - wrist or full - is simply a tool for your use. If it serves as a reminder throughout
your day of your spiritual path, if you use it spontaneously in the day for mantras or meditation,
then it has proven a valuable and useful tool.

The only exception to this, for me, would be any special considerations laid down by a particular
school or tradition of Buddhism you might be currently following. Respecting their traditions should
probably be adhered to.
Now having obtained a precious human body,
I do not have the luxury of remaining on a distracted path.

~ Tibetan Book of the Dead
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby Chaz » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:20 pm

steveb1 wrote:Looking about the Web, I find that there are two perspectives on wearing beads on the wrist or wrapped around the arm (like Richard Gere in some of his "introduction to Buddhism" videos). These seem to be:

1) Never wear them except in services or in private meditation. If you want them to accompany you throughout the day, keep them in a pouch in your pocket, backpack, etc. Popular examples such as HH Dalai Lama are invoked for reverent mala use - which ideally should occur only in "prayer" or special religious occasions. i.e., don't flaunt your beads for social reasons, and sensibly decline to wear them for practical reasons (they can get hung up, caught, break or chip, etc.).

2) No harm in wearing wrist malas, if they remind you of the Dharma throughout the day as a constant assist on the Path. They may even attract fellow Buddhists with whom one might wish to discuss the Dharma. If strangers ask, explain the reason for wearing (e.g., "They help me walk my talk"); or just say you like how they look on your wrist. Thus: wrist malas are not harmful, and they may be of some help spiritually.

Could anyone address this issue, please ... ? Do you use wrist malas, and if so, is your use constant or occasional? Or ... if you do not use them, do you have specific reasons for not wearing them?



I don't wear my malas unless it involves practice. I did for a short time some years ago. It occurred to me that I was acting in a pretentious manner - I was trying to attract attention to myself - so I stopped wearing malas. If I'm in a practice setting I'll use a shirt pocket if I have one. If I have no pocket I'll wear the mala, usually around my neck. Most 108-bead malas made with 8mm beads don't don't fit my wrist well unless they're strung with elastic. A mala made with 7mm beads is about right and allows me to wear it on my wrist, but most of the time I don't wear it there.

Do what you feel is the most appropriate for you. Just because I was uncomfortable with my reasons for wearing a mala does mean you will or should be. If wearing a mala helps turn your mind to the Dharma then I don't see harm in it.

You should also keep in mind that a juzu, while still a mala has protocols for use that are different from other mahayana traditions. If you're a member of a tradition that uses juzu, you might consult with senior students in that group.
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby steveb1 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:19 pm

Thanks to all for your helpful replies :)
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby padma norbu » Tue Oct 25, 2011 9:57 pm

wearing one right now... it is BYOOTIFUL!

Seriously, though, I wanted to get one badly so that I could always practice whenever I got the chance here and there. Over the years, I ended up buying something like 5 different ones (I am talking about the 21 and 27 bead variety; I also have 3 108 malas). Some of the wrist malas broke, some are just too noticeable, some were too small or too big. I always felt self-conscious about them, but hoped they wouldn't be noticeable. I was always disappointed when they were clearly very noticeable.

I currently have an orange beaded one that is in my coat pocket and a black one that I am wearing on my wrist. The black I feel blends in with the black band of my watch. It is onyx, which is supposedly good for noticing habits so that you can overcome them. It still somewhat bothers me because it is pretty noticeable on my wrist and the black tends to look a bit feminine, imo. But, they have ALL looked feminine and black is certainly less noticeable than red or orange beads, which is what I previously tried out for a day or two.

I'd kind of like a skull mala because it would look less unusual and people would probably just think I was trying to be a cool dude, but I don't know... a bunch of skulls around your wrist doesn't look very professional (not that any wrist mala really does).

Since I've started carrying them, I do actually use them, so for me it's good and I don't really care what other Buddhists think about it. All pretty arbitrary concepts, anyway. The black one works particularly well because I can carry it in the shadows and it is unnoticeable. The orange one in my coat pocket? I just stick my hand in my pocket and count. Kinda looks like I'm perpetually fishing around for some gum or chapstick or something if someone is really staring at me, but they should probably stop looking at me in that case.
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby steveb1 » Wed Oct 26, 2011 3:19 am

Thanks, padma norbu :)
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Re: wrist, arm malas and ojuzu: use/etiquette

Postby Virgo » Wed Oct 26, 2011 4:16 am

padma norbu wrote:a bunch of skulls around your wrist doesn't look very professional .


Try a garland then.
'
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