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Frequently Asked Questions
In 1992, when Lama Zopa Rinpoche first asked me (Jim) to build a prayer wheel, I had no idea what they were. Since then I have built dozens of large or altar size prayer wheels and have filled numberless prayer wheel pendants. Over the years when I had a question kind Lamas such as Lama Zopa Rinpoche and Lama Tarchin Rinpoche and others helped me. If you have any questions about Dharma Wheels I would be happy to answer them. However there are some frequent questions that I have answered below.

Prayer Wheel Practice
Which direction should I spin a prayer wheel?
Is it Om Mani Padme Hum or Om Mani Padme Hung? And what does this six-syllable mantra mean?
The prayer wheel dropped on the floor, am I doomed?

More On Prayer Wheels
I am a practicioner of the Kagyu sect is there any special lineage requirements for a Kagyu prayer wheel or can any prayer wheel be used?
I know a Buddhist and he(she) doesn't care about prayer wheels. What's up with that?
I lost the bottom screw of my prayer wheel pendant.
What do I do now?
The bottom screw keeps coming loose when I'm turning my prayer wheel pendant.

Getting Creative
Can I paint the mantras on the prayer wheel pendant?
What are some of the creative possibilities of this small prayer wheel pendant that seems like a complete package in and of itself?
Can I only wear the prayer wheel pendant around my neck?




Prayer Wheel Practice

Which direction should I spin a prayer wheel?
Generally speaking clockwise. In our age of digital clocks clockwise can best be remembered by observing the direction of the winter sun through the sky. I say winter because the summer sun being almost directly overhead could create confusion. Or if you are holding it in your hand and looking at it, you would turn it to the left. Although spinning prayer wheels clockwise is what is done most of the time the Lion-Faced Dakini, (Senge Dongma in Tibetan, Simhamukha-Sanskrit) spins prayer wheels counterclockwise. The Lion-Faced Dakini is a Dharma protector who spins prayer wheels counterclockwise to generate a wrathful energy. Wrathful meaning that spinning the prayer wheel counterclockwise wards off Dharma obstructors or those who seek to harm sentient beings. I would say that those with the capacity for clarity in dangerous situations where there is a potential for harm or if there are obstructors to someone's sincere Dharma practice then they can use this skillful means to overcome obstacles. However it doesn't mean you do it because someone nearby makes noise while you meditate. If you are disturbed when there are noises while you meditate it means you are not a good meditator who has the capacity to integrate with non-duality since choosing silence without ever having noise is dualistic vision. (Though of course we all usually prefer silence.)
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Is it Om Mani Padme Hum or Om Mani Padme Hung? And what does this six-syllable mantra mean?
Either way is correct though I asked Lama Zopa Rinpoche and he prefers Om Mani Padme Hung then said, "All these mantras originate from Chenrezig."
Buddhists generally translate Om Mani Padme Hung as "Hail to the jewel in the lotus". This is a reference to our Intrinsic Pristine Non-dual Awareness or Rigpa or Buddha-Nature that is like a crystal jewel that has risen beyond the mud of samsara (delusion) reflecting mirror-like Wisdom-Bliss.
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The prayer wheel dropped on the floor, am I doomed?
Of course not. Traditionally when Buddhists drop a sacred text or a holy object on the floor without thinking they pick it up and place it for a moment on the crown of their heads. This is not only a show of respect but also represents a purifying move. The most important thing to remember is to not become neurotic about a mistake. Forget about it and move on. It's over- conceptualizing that causes problems.
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More On Prayer Wheels

I am a practicioner of the Kagyu sect is there any special lineage requirements for a Kagyu prayer wheel or can any prayer wheel be used?
All four sects of Tibetan Buddhism - Kagyu, Gelugpa, Nyingma and Sakya can use these prayer wheels. Not only that prayer wheels can be used by Zen Buddhists as well as Buddhists of any lineage. And they can even be used by non-Buddhists who want to cover all the bases and think "I don't know if what is being said is true but what if it is. I'll be missing a lot if it turns out to be true. Especially when I'm on my deathbed and I've got nada." These Holy Objects are so powerful that it says in the actual text that "even an insect that has the shadow of a prayer wheel touch them will be reborn in a higher realm." Meaning a butterfly that flits in and out of a shadow of a prayer wheel will attain a human body or better in it's next incarnation. I know this sounds unbelievable but so is the blessing power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
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I know a Buddhist and he(she) doesn't care about prayer wheels. What's up with that?
Lama Zopa Rinpoche once told me that "It takes an unbelievable amount of merit (good karma) to be able to just turn a prayer wheel." Tibetans have said to me, "You have to be born into Buddhism to understand prayer wheels." Because of western conditioning some people think that the more complicated concepts they can formulate then the better they can understand Buddhism when actually it's more about letting go of concepts and simplifying into the nowness of non-duality. This is not to say that intellectual sharpness is not worthwhile - it is - however we are talking about a stagnant memorization of solidified or ossified concepts that prevents one from opening to the unlimited wisdom/nowness in actual everydaytodaythismoment time and space. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche once said something like (I'm paraphrasing) "Enlightenment is like looking at your own eyelids but to see it as so easy takes a lot of merit." You can see an actual quote by Dzongsar Khyentse on merit by clicking on the sub-link prayer wheels and scrolling down toward the bottom.
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I lost the bottom screw of my prayer wheel pendant.
What do I do now?
The bottom screw keeps coming loose when I'm turning my prayer wheel pendant.

We'd be glad to replace it for free. Just send us an SASE Self-addressed stamped envelope to the address on the Contact Us page and we'll get a new screw right out to you. For loose screws we recommend unscrew the screw then dab a tiny drop of super glue on the threads. Quickly put the screw back on but be careful not to overtighten it. Check this by making sure the prayer wheel spins freely before you settle where you want your screw to remain. Once you've tightened the screw with super-glue you might as well super-glue the lid too if it also occasionally pops up.
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Getting Creative

Can I paint the mantras on the prayer wheel pendant?
Yes. It is traditional to paint the mani letters gold on the outside of a prayer wheel. Even better if you are so inclined is to gold-leaf the outer letters with super-glue and gold-leaf if you are so inclined. Note: While doing this try to visualize the gold (even gold paint) as an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with Bodhicitta for merit. and don't forget to dedicate the merit for the benefit of all sentient beings. If you get an alabaster or marble prayer wheel from me and you want to paint the letters gold remember that alabaster and marble can sometimes act like a sponge which is a good thing as you can get some great effects by using inks and watercolors.
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What are some of the creative possibilities of this small prayer wheel pendant that seems like a complete package in and of itself?
If you have a pendant that still has the tiny screw and lid removable you can put little crystals, diamonds, or any other small gems in there as an offering. We recommend super-gluing any tiny gems to the inside on top of the microfilm so the gem doesn't interfere with the prayer wheels spinning. Other creative possibilities are in the necklace you wear. Check your local bead shop and plug into the cosmic creativity.
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Can I only wear the prayer wheel pendant around my neck?
It's almost unlimited as long as your intention is positive. I know of a young Tibetan man living in California who has one dangling from his rear-view mirror in his sports car. He likes to drive fast and just in case of an accident... instant phowa (transference of consciousness). He knows about impermanance and the benefits of the prayer wheel at the moment of death. It is okay to put one on your dog's or cat's collar too. I'd say put a little prayer wheel temple in your fish aquarium however please make sure the prayer wheel pendant is in a small airtight sealed jar as silver can poison the water. In a sealed container they can get the benefits by just being able to swim around it.
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