Tibet's cultural, religious, and literary traditions trace to the Buddha, who lived more than 2,500 years ago. In the seventh century A.D., the Buddha's teachings inspired Srong-btsan sGam­po, king of Tibet, to send his minister of state to India and devise a written language capable of translating them. Between the eighth and the twelfth centuries, the whole of this ancient heritage was brought to Tibet, where it inspired a culture dedicated to the alleviation of suffering and bringing the beauty and joy of enlightened qualities to all aspects of daily life. In the thirteenth century, when the last libraries housing thousands of Buddhist texts were destroyed in India, this knowledge lived on in Tibet, kept alive through unbroken lineages of masters who valued it as the basis of human life.

About two thousand years ago, the great master Nagarjuna concluded at setting the Buddha's words in motion by mechanical means had the same effect as recitation by the human voice. Writing down a text in a continuous line, in analogy to the way it would normally spoken, he rolled it up and placed it inside a cylindrical container. Fitted with handles or other devices, the cylinder could be turned by hand, water, wind, steam, or convection. This invention, known in Tibet as the Mani Chos-'khor, or precious Dharma wheel, provided everyone a way to offer heartfelt wishes that all beings be free from the sources of suffering. As monks and layplay persons held wheels at the level of their heart and rotated them clockwise, they discovered that turning the wheels has a comforting yet invigorating effect similar to art or music, to medicine, or to love, or other sources of deep satisfaction and fulfillment. This pThis perception led to the construction of larger wheels, which have an even greater effect on the human heart and mind. Great care was expended on their construction; the wheels were encased with copper, silver, or even gold, and ornamented with symbols in repoussé.

Since the 1950s, when tens of thousands of Tibetans became refugees, dharma wheels have begun turning in new lands. In 1970, Tarthang Rinpoche, Head Lama of the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, selected a collection of mantras especially beneficial for these times and trained his students in the traditional method of preparing the texts and printing and rolling them for dharma wheels. In place of handles, the Head Lama covered the rolled texts with cloth and mounted them on turntables, harnharnessing electricity to set the ancient mantras in motion.

In recent years, Tarthang Rinpoche has applied modern computerized typesetting and printing techniques to create wheels equal in content to the largest wheels ever produced in Tibet.   Among this new generation of wheels which emulate the traditional Mani Dong-khor, the ten-million mantra wheel highly valued in Tibet.

The tradition says that as long as such enlightened forms exist on earth, the Sangha will not disappear, and that as long as the Sangha remains, the potential for Enlightenment will continue to manifest. Over the years we have worked toward this goal, dedicating the merit of our actions to all sentient beings. We have not only built stupas and prayer wheels and created prayer flags, but we have also distributed hundreds of thousands of tsa-tsas and relics as empowerments for the earth and invitations for the blessings of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. This activity is intended to benefit not only the human realm, but all beings of the six realms of existence.

 

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NYINGMA CENTER
Prayer Wheels for World Peace
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