The Tibetan prayer wheel is a special cylinder with a purpose and intent of helping to relieve suffering in the world. Peace, kindness and merit radiate through the mantras and blessings that are housed inside of the prayer wheel via the intention of the practitioner.
Tibetan prayer wheels can be made of metal, wood, leather, stone or coarse fabric. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written upon the exterior of the canister in Sanskrit. The meaning of this mantra is as follows:
Om: I invoke the Universal sound
Mani: The jewel, the goal of Enlightenment, love and compassion
Padme: Lotus wisdom
Hum: And a pure, indivisible unity of wisdom with practice
Focusing Love, Kindness and Compassion
Om Mani Padme Hum is the mantra of loving kindness and compassion for Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Many Buddhists recite the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra daily, and it is said that the more the practitioner recites it, the more good energies are spread in the world. Spinning a Tibetan prayer wheel with this mantra etched upon it also radiates love, kindness and compassion to the world. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, spinning a Tibetan prayer wheel can have the same positive effect as reading, reciting or meditating upon the mantras and prayers it contains.
Buddhist Protector figures, Dakinis, and the eight auspicious symbols Ashtamangala may also be depicted upon the outside of the prayer wheel. At its core, a "Life Tree" made of wood or metal is often present within the cylinder, and prayers and mantras can be written directly on it or on paper that is then wrapped around it. In some cases, thousands or even millions of prayers, mantras and good intentions can be wrapped around the center of the traditional prayer wheel.
Modern Prayer Wheels
Not surprisingly, today's technology has enhanced the prayer wheel in a number of ways. Some wheels have been motorized so that they can spin continually for the benefit of all beings. There are even prayer wheels that use DVD disc storage technology to enable them to hold more prayers than ever before. Prayers are burned onto the DVDs which are than stacked inside of the canister. The largest versions of these modern prayer wheels can hold from several billion to well over one trillion prayers.
Spinning a prayer wheel regularly helps you to accumulate wisdom, merit and good karma while purifying and releasing bad karma. Prayer wheels should be spun clockwise while concentrating on the highest good for all beings. Tibetans believe that the more times you spin a prayer wheel with sincerity, the more positive the effect will be in the world as well as for your own karma.