Texts prepared for prayer wheels are written in Tibetan script, a form of writing based on the Gupta script of India. Since the shapes of Tibetan syllables have never changed, Tibetan adheres closely to the original mantric syllables. The inner meanings of each shape and sound, faithfully preserved in a secret transmission, have great significance, for each syllable is itself a symbol encoded with specific qualities of the Dharma. Arranged in precise patterns and set in motion, these symbols of enlightened speech release their healing energy to balance chaotic forces and bring peace and harmony to living beings.
The particular texts selected for Prayer Wheels are chosen with great care to serve specific purposes for this time and place, such as protection from natural disasters and new diseases, removing obstacles and transforming negative karma, averting natural disasters, supporting growth and prosperity, and evoking blessings that heal the environment and create the conditions for world peace.
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Since 1991, mantras and texts for prayer wheels have been typeset in a computerized Tibetan font designed for the Yeshe De text preservation projects. This allowed much more text to be printed in a very small area. Lines can be scaled down and the text compressed into compact units of meaning. A custom-designed typesetting program stacks the lines closely while retaining legibility. Even so, the final copy is checked line by line with a magnifying glass for type defects and gaps.
This technological innovation and careful review has made it possible to create uniquely powerful prayer wheels containing extensive collections of important Sûtras, mantras, and dhâranïs. The Dharma Wheel Cutting Karma prayer wheel, for example, compresses the text of the Eight Thousand Line Prajñâpâramitâ, an entire Tibetan volume, into a single line that spans eighty-one press sheets. About 52 lines of this length (325') set one above another and printed on 3 1/2"-high paper can fit into the drum of a handheld wheel.
For the finished copy, High quality printing plates are made and many thousands of sheets are printed, using smooth-surfaced acid-free paper of great tensile strength and red ink tested for minimum spread and empowered with special blessings. The printed sheets are carefully reviewed for minute creases, pale imprints, or other printing errors.
Sheets for the Prayer Wheel are glued together, end to end, in preparation for rolling onto a core. The letters of the mantras read from left to right, with the first sheet closest to the power source. For a large wheel powered by electricity, the power source is the central axis, and the mantras are wrapped with the first sheet next to the core. For a small hand wheel, the power source is the ball attached to the drum of the wheel, and the first sheet is on the outside. In both kinds of wheel, when the wheel turns clockwise, the mantras flow from the beginning of the text, as they would in speech, spinning out blessings into the world.
Steel or high strength plastic shafts prepared for the cores of the wheel are set into a rack. The glued strips which can be as long as 325 feet are rolled around the core and tighetened into a compact cylinder.