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  • Writer's pictureMicha Strauss

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche on the benefits of prayer wheels

Updated: Mar 29

H.E. Garchen Rinpohce spinning his prayer wheel
H.E. Garchen Rinpohce spinning his prayer wheel

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in 2017 on The Benefits of Spinning a Prayer Wheel:

The benefits of the prayer wheel have often been spoken of before, however, these days people in samsara aren’t able to accomplish any Dharma practice at all- they don’t have the time. For those that are unable to engage in any practice, the way to accomplish the virtues of body, speech, and mind all at once is through spinning the prayer wheel. And it’s not necessary to have a large one; a small one can be spun at any time.

When we spin a prayer wheel, the virtue of the Body is that there are many millions of mantras revolving inside. The virtue of Speech is that, from the power of that inner mantra stream and due to the special qualities contained within the prayer wheel, offerings are made to the Buddhas, and at the same time, the obscurations of sentient beings are purified- these are the words of the Buddha.

The virtue of Mind is that, when we spin the prayer wheel, the mind remains undistracted. The superior practice is to rest within meditation of the view—an understanding of the non- duality of self and other—while spinning the prayer wheel. And this is an extraordinary instruction! If we spin the prayer wheel with the thought to benefit all sentient beings, then we will perfectly abide single- pointedly within two- fold bodicitta. Spinning the prayer wheel for even a single moment has such vast benefit!

If, while alive we have great faith in our prayer wheel—holding it sacred—then at the time of our death, if it is placed near us on the pillow, then it is said that it is not necessary to have someone perform phowa. We’re told, Oh, your prayer wheel is right here next to you on the pillow. And we will think, Oh, my prayer wheel is so special, and now it is right here near me…! Then, it is taught, that phowa is not needed.

There is such great benefit in spinning a prayer wheel, and when others see someone engaged in such a virtuous activity of body, speech, and mind as spinning a prayer wheel they will think, Oh, spinning a prayer wheel is really so great! And all who see this will be able to close the door to the lower realms, and obtain the three higher realms. The benefits such as this Liberation On Seeing are really inconceivable!

It is something that is easy to do, but really very meaningful. The Buddha provided the activity of the prayer wheel for all those without the fortune to engage in practice. There are many sizes, but if we can spin small one like this continuously, then the mind becomes especially focused and undistracted. In this state of non- distraction —the Path of all the Buddhas — though one abides just a short time single- pointedly in the mind of love, compassion and emptiness…“This mind for a single instant is greater than protecting the lives of all the beings in the three realms.”

While spinning the prayer wheel, we rest in single-pointed focus—and among the virtues of body, speech, and mind —principally the virtue of mind is inconceivable! Tashi Delek!

- Garchen Rinpoche, 2017

English Translation by Dianne Mckinnon

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in 2018 on the Benefits of Spinning Prayer Wheel:

Spinning the prayer wheel for example, is an excellent method to accumulate merits with body speech and mind. It also helps the mind especially to meditate and focusing one-pointedly. So the key point here is to have a small and convenient prayer wheel like this one here. Some people they see the benefit of prayer wheel, but they got very huge prayer wheel. It is heavy. With gold and silver and so on. And actually, it is not helpful to your practice as you cannot actually spin it because it is so heavy. So, it is better to spin a smaller prayer wheel like this. You can always do it. And the virtue accumulated with the body is because you are always spinning it. And the virtue with speech is because it is filled with mantras, and with each rotation of the prayer wheel, those mantras are sent outward. It is also becomes the generosity of giving the dharma. For example, Chenrezigs and Taras, all emanate outward with each rotation. It is said that we need to understand the mantra garland as the deity. And it is also the mind, the mind focus single-pointedly. So there is focus. You don’t spin it too fast and not too slow. Just right. And in that way, the mind is focused single pointedly, and that purifies your mind. And then your ordinary thoughts will stop. Especially the grasping at forms and the grasping at sounds. Especially the grasping at sounds will stop, so spinning the prayer wheel really has immense benefits. And people has started to do that too. Many people love me; whatever I do, many people also start doing. And that is an excellent thing to do because it is an excellent method to meditate, focusing one-pointedly because the mind really stays with the prayer wheel. For example, there is this toy which spins for a cat, and the cat keeps staring at the spinning toy single-pointedly. Almost like the cat is meditating cause the cat’s focus is so strong, single-pointedly, at the spinning wheel. So if even cats can develop meditation, then there is no need to mention us humans. There will be benefits for us, when we spin the prayer wheel. Of course, when the mind is completely still, and there is no distraction, then it is not necessary to spin a prayer wheel. Milarepa has said that when you are actually meditating in the nature of mind, then you leave aside all the virtuous activity of body and speech. But when you are in everyday life and there is distraction, it is really beneficial to spin a small prayer wheel like that. It is very beneficial to sustain your meditation. And for example, when you spin the prayer wheel, actually you can even take a very light nap, and continue spinning the prayer wheel. But if you really fall asleep, then it will definitely fall down.

2018, U.S. Sedona AZ

H.E. Garchen Rinpoche spinning his prayer wheel on his visit to our prayer wheel studio in 2013
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche spinning his prayer wheel on his visit to our prayer wheel studio in 2013

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