What is really a Tibetan Prayer Wheel?

A prayer wheel is a tool consisting of a cylindrical wheel made of metal, wood or stone, often beautifully decorated, which is mounted on a rod.

This object is inseparable from Tibetan Buddhism and its traditions. Prayer wheels are actually used as an aid to meditation and as a way to accumulate wisdom. Karma specialists even say that the right Buddhist prayer wheel can help us ward off bad energies away from time.

In fact, spinning these wheels is considered one of the most thoughtful and beneficial acts a Buddhist can do.

Generally built on the outskirts of stupas and monasteries, some Tibetan prayer wheels can be used by several thousand people per day.

Others, smaller in size, will be personal objects with which the practitioner will maintain a personal relationship.

Meditation, wisdom, energetic cleansing : the promises of this Tibetan lucky charm are numerous. Now let's look more closely at it to try to discover the secrets behind such powers.

Contents :

Description of a Tibetan prayer wheel

But actually, how does a mill work?

What benefits can I get from it?

A particular Buddhist mantra

Several prayer wheels lined up, all having Tibetan prayers and mantras inscribed on them.

Description of a Tibetan prayer wheel

When you deal with a mill, you will almost always see strange signs written on it: these are mantras.

Mantras are sacred words or sounds, considered very powerful in Buddhism.

Concretely, the vibrations emitted when we pronounce them correspond to the frequencies of certain energies whose impact on humans is tangible.

Traditionally, it is the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum which is inscribed or engraved in the cylinder of the mill. The languages ​​used are Sanskrit, Tibetan or (more rarely) a European language. All this may tickle your curiosity but be patient, we will talk about it a little later.

The perimeter of the Buddhist prayer wheel is sometimes also decorated with legendary symbols and figures such as Dakinis (or Protectors) or the Ashtamangala (the eight auspicious symbols of Indian tradition).

Traditionally, yak fat is used to allow the mill to slide well. These days, any lubricant product will do.

Most of the time, the cylinder is hollow in its center. This allows you to insert papers on which the practitioner can write their own mantras, thoughts or prayers. Thus, the effects of the mill are truly “customizable”.

Some of the largest models we can find in the Himalayan mountains actually contain thousands of papers left behind by travelers!

In reality, prayer wheels come in a whole bunch of different sizes: they can be very small and incorporated into jewelry ( for example with this ring ) of medium size and mounted on the end of a handle held in the hand ( as with this more traditional prayer wheel ) or simply gigantic ( as is the case with this type of impressive Buddhist monument ).

Often, the larger models serve as decoration at the entrance to temples or are placed along hiking trails in the mountains of Tibet.

More than a simple element of the local landscape, these mills have a real mission: that of blessing and even protecting and preserving the travelers who pass by.

The Tibetan prayer wheel is a very ancient phenomenon, probably several millennia old. So there have been oddities throughout history, funny oddities that we probably wouldn't think of.

For example, we can cite:

  • Waterwheel mills (turned by flowing water)
  • Firewheel mills (powered by the heat of a candle or flame)
  • Windmills
  • Electric mills (powered by modern motors)

Yes, although this tradition is very old, certain very contemporary techniques have been used to use the mills... or more precisely to make them turn effortlessly!

A Tibetan flag, a prayer wheel and a phurba used for Buddhist ceremonies and rituals

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But actually, how does a mill work?

Ancient texts found in Tibet lead us to believe that turning a Buddhist prayer wheel would have approximately the same effects as reciting the mantras inscribed on it.

Indeed, if the power of these words lies in their vibrations, turning the cylinder of the mill in the air around us produces one too!

Centuries ago, some specialists hypothesized that these two types of vibrations would have comparable effects. There's technically no way to verify this, but the facts apparently prove them right.

These sages actually told us that turning a prayer wheel would “carry one’s prayers to heaven as does the voice of man.”

Furthermore, there is no exact precision that Buddhism would teach us as to when a mill can be used or not. We can therefore deduce that this tool can be used at any time of the day.

This is rather good news: whatever habits we have adopted in our meditation practices, it will not be complicated to include the use of a Buddhist mill.

In fact, you don't even have to be in meditation or in a state of special attention to use it.

Nothing will stop you from spinning your mill while reading a book, listening to music or during any daily task.

So this is a terribly simple way to benefit from the Buddhist prayers to which your mill is linked!

If you're always looking for new ways to enhance your meditation sessions and expand your awareness, you'll love our special Tibetan lucky charms, as this collection is the result of extensive research.

In short, Buddhists often carry their mills with them everywhere (even during their long pilgrimages), turning them whenever they have a free moment.

Some decide to make it a central element of their spiritual practice and turn their Tibetan prayer wheel with the same assiduity as if they were reciting prayers.

Buddhist monk meditating on top of a Himalayan mountain.

What benefits can I get from it?

Here is a (probably incomplete) list of the main benefits that this Buddhist lucky charm can offer you:

  • According to some accounts, simply touching a prayer wheel brings an incredible feeling of purification.
  • More concretely, it is said that someone who has sinned would have their guilt washed away if they turn a mill with true remorse.
  • It is said in Tibetan tradition that prayers improve our overall karma, thus giving us a “good” reincarnation. Running a mill can therefore offer us better future lives.
  • To go into even more detail, this would reduce the risk of being born with disabilities in our next life.
  • Other specialists (especially monks) believe they can grant certain wishes.
  • By principle of positive thinking, spinning a prayer wheel develops in us compassion, zen and deep spirituality.
  • Some practitioners also testify to a spiritual awakening.

Several Tibetan prayer wheels placed in a village to bless the inhabitants.

A particular Buddhist mantra

We told you about it before... You will now discover the hidden meaning behind the mantra written on your mill.

Let us clarify from the outset: other Tibetan prayers can sometimes be used. The one that we are going to present to you, however, is by far the most widespread, and the only one that you will find on the prayer wheels on our site.

This famous mantra is written with our alphabet: “Om Mani Padme Hum”.

Buddhism is a practice that has appealed to millions of people for several millennia. There were therefore logically separations between different schools, as well as different approaches and ways of seeing the world.

All this to say that the interpretation that we are going to give you of this sacred mantra is not the only one that exists (but clearly the most widespread).

Here are the meanings of the six sounds that constitute it:

  • Om : This sound is considered in Dharmic religions (Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism) as the one at the base of everything. It is supposed to purify our ego and rid us of pride, something necessary for any spiritual practice.
  • Ma : This sound is associated with ethics and thus purifies our minds, mainly by keeping us away from jealousy and lust.
  • Ni : This one simply represents patience. It will serve to dampen the flames that burn too brightly within us... even those that we may think are good, such as love or too impetuous curiosity.
  • Pad : Associated with diligence and serious work, this word serves to purify us of ignorance and prejudice.
  • Me : Me is a sound associated with renunciation. He will thus offer us the virtues linked to poverty and therefore to simplicity.
  • Hum : The sound of wisdom par excellence, it serves to free us from the hatred and anger that can lie dormant deep in our hearts.

Once we know all this, an observation can quickly jump out at us: the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum serves above all to cleanse us of the main faults which damage the soul.

Thus, its hidden goal is to free us from all these evils to strengthen our own being and allow us to access happiness.

The Tibetan prayer wheel therefore proves to be a most powerful tool.

Amitabha Buddha said it himself: “Whoever recites these six syllables while turning the wheel of dharma will have a fortune equal to that of the Thousand Buddhas.”

Lucky charms featured in this article

Ring made from a small portable prayer wheel

Ring made from a small portable prayer wheel

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author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.