In Tibet prayer wheel can be a common sight. Prayer wheels are used by Tibetans for spreading spiritual blessing and well being. A long piece of paper with the inscription of a mantra is sometimes wound around the axle of the prayer wheel. It contains an inscription of six Tibetan words. The words are Om Mani Padme Hum. Tibet Buddhists believe that saying these words will protect them from all dangers. This mantra inscription can be seen on rocks, prayer wheels, stupa walls and loose stones piled up as mani jewels on roads, paths, mountains passes and through villages.
Tibetan Buddhists believe that saying the mantra will bless them, loved ones and bring them closer to the Buddha. They are always spun clockwise because that way the mantra can be read, it follows the sun and it follows the path of the stupas. Om means the blessed to achieve perfection in the practice of generosity. Ma helps to achieve pure ethics. Ni brings tolerance and patients. Pad brings perseverance. Me is the practice of concentration. Hum is achieving wisdom. Together they will bring happiness, hope, achievement and good luck. In English this phrase translates hail to the jewel in the lotus.
There are many different types of prayer wheels across Tibet. Small hand held prayer wheels are the most common. Tibetan people carry the prayer wheels for hours spinning the wheel as much as they can. Larger prayer wheels can also be seen across Tibet. These can be three meters high and two meters long. They also contain sacred texts sometimes there will be hundreds of volumes. Prayer wheels can also be found mounted in rows near pathways. They are spun by people entering a temple. Prayer wheels are also found in places where wind or water can spin them.
New types of prayer wheels have been developed. His Holiness the Dali Lama has said that having the mantra on your computer can work the same as a traditional prayer wheel. Since a computer's hard disk spins thousands and thousands of times per hour and can also contain many copies of the mantra, anyone who wants can easily turn their computer into a prayer wheel.
Over the past decade or so there has been a huge increase in tourists to Tibet, especially now since there is a train going straight into Lhasa. Something that most people don't know, except those who have spent time living or travelling around China and Tibet, is that the provinces in Western China are more similar to Tibet that they are to Eastern China.
One place most people have heard of but think maybe it's a magical place of dragons and Emperors is Shangri-la. This is a real city is situated in China's Southwest Province of Yunnan and not the most convenient to get to. This entire area of China is more like Tibet than other cities, towns or Provinces across China. For example there is a huge prayer wheel in the ancient city of Dukezong, near Shangri-la. This prayer wheel is twenty one meters high and weighs more than sixty tons. Needless to say, this is a huge tourist attraction; people come to visit to turn the prayer wheel for luck and peace. But, in the Eastern Provinces of China, nothing like this exists; not in temples, parks, or gardens. Prayer wheels are sacred items, used for centuries, bringing luck, peace and protection.
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