Prayer is intrinsic in the lives of Buddhists.
Whether it is morning or evening, at work or leisure, there is always
a prayers in their heart
The Prayer wheel is an
important symbol in Buddhism as it signifies the Dharma Chakra or the
eternal movement of the teachings of Buddha which are enshrined in
the scriptures as mantras. There are thousands of mantras addressed
to Buddha as Avalokiteshvara or the Compassionate One.
These mantras are written
on paper and put inside cylinders of the prayer wheels. Buddhists
believe that by turning the wheel, the power of the mantra is being
released into the environment.
There are hand held
personal prayer wheels as well as those that are fixed in public
places for passersby to turn them as they go along. In addition to
these there are huge prayer wheels which are moved by the force of
water as it is harnessed as it rushes on its way down from higher
It is always an
incredible sight when one sees hundreds and thousands of small white
flags fluttering in the wind. Tibetan Buddhists put up these flags
on which mantras or passages from Buddhist scriptures are hand block
It is believed that the
message of the mantras whether it is of compassion,
preservation of dharma, alleviation of suffering or warding off of
evil spirits are carried far and wide by the winds.
Like streamers on a
string, these prayer flags are put out by ordinary Buddhist folks
atop high hills where the wind is always strong, to carry their
message of goodwill for one and all. In the misty mountainside one
cannot help but be touched by the mystic message of the prayer flags.
Whether it is at ones
home or in the temple or at the monastery, it is customary to light
an oil lamp at prayer time. It is symbolic of illumination of
the mind. If one wants to see one must have the
eye. If one has the eye then one needs the
light. So one offers the light of the oil
lamp to the Lord so that His grace makes the inner eye
see the way.
It is not the vain but
the humble who pray. In prayer to the Almighty, a devotee prostrates
as a gesture of his humbleness. A Tibetan Buddhist often prostrates
before the Buddha innumerable times while chanting the mantras during
prayers. Isnt once enough?
What does a Buddhist gain
by prostrating hundreds of times? by doing this one improves
ones lot in the next life. Prostrating before Buddha is one
way of accumulating merit in the life after this.