What are Prayer Wheels?
Prayer wheels contain the words of the Buddha: teachings of wisdom and compassion. While the Buddha's discourses fill many volumes, they may also be condensed into syllables with deep symbolic meaning known as mantra. Tibetans recite these profound and inspiring texts to instill them in memory and promote the wellbeing of others.
The Tibetan term "dharma wheel" has been rendered into English as "prayer wheel". Yet prayer wheels are much more than supplicants to a higher spirit. They can contain the full potency and meaning of the path to enlightenment.
Believing that turning dharma wheels filled with these texts and symbols is equivalent to reciting them, Tibetans place dharma wheels in monasteries, temples, and libraries and turn them at every opportunity to convey the blessings of compassion and harmony, prevent natural disasters, and promote peace in the world. Although dharma wheels were known in ancient India and Nepal, only in Tibet did they become an integral part of daily life. Today as in ages past, the dharma wheels are honored as symbols of enlightened knowledge, able to evoke the healing powers of the mind and increase its capacities for wisdom.
In recent years, the world has seen how quickly knowledge-even when valued and protected by an entire culture-can be brought to the brink of extinction. In response, we have made great efforts to preserve the cultural heritage of Tibet, including the intricate science of dharma wheels, which are in themselves ways of preserving and disseminating the benefits of enlightened knowledge. Having created more than a thousand 4 foot high wheels for our own organization and donated 100,000 of the hand-held wheels to individuals in the Himalayan region, we have come to share the view that dharma wheels have a calming and healing influence on the environment and human beings, qualities greatly needed in our world today.