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Holy Objects : Advice on Holy Objects

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche (Last Updated Nov 26, 2013)
The Benefits of Prayer Wheels and Chenrezig Practice
When Rinpoche flew from Singapore to the United States in 2011, a very devoted airline stewardess sat on the floor in the aisle asking Rinpoche many questions about the prayer wheel. (Rinpoche always travels with and turns a prayer wheel while on a plane.) Rinpoche sent this letter to the stewardess and arranged for her to receive a prayer wheel from Amitabha Buddhist Centre.

 My most dear Amanda,
I am so happy that I met you on the flight to the United States. I was waiting to meet you before getting up to leave. Finally I saw you at the last leaving time, but there were other people between us. I was seeing students, particularly the directors of the FPMT meditation centers in California, who came to welcome me at the airport. My secretary saw some other air hostesses coming out, but he did not see you. Later he got distracted by other people and missed you.

I want to give you this mala. Originally it was a wooden monastic one, but I changed it to this blue one, so I hope you like it.

I am not sure if you have already been to Amitabha Buddhist Centre in Singapore. Please visit the center, as Ven.Gyurme has a prayer wheel for you. When you go, I hope you enjoy some time with Ven.Gyurme, who is our translator and also a teacher for new people. I hope you enjoy seeing the center and discussing with Ven.Gyurme.

One of the incredible benefits of the FPMT centers is that they offer education and a place to practice and receive teachings on Buddhism—on how to live our life and overcome death, by explaining both sutra and tantra teachings. Mainly the centers offer teachings on sutra and philosophy that explain how we can be free from death, also how to not be afraid of death and how to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We can also learn the special practice of integrating the whole entire teachings of Buddha into the five powers. This is a daily practice and also a special practice at the time of death, to make our death most beneficial for sentient beings—for the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, suras, asuras and intermediate state beings. By using the five powers near the time of death, we can make death most meaningful and happy.

The centers offer education on the Buddha’s teachings, the very basic teachings such as karma—action and result. From pure action, the result is happiness and from negative action, the result is suffering, so these teachings are important and fundamental, to be able to help ourselves and others. These teachings are even fundamental for this life’s happiness and success. By knowing how to abandon negative karma and how to create good karma, this can create the cause to achieve happiness in all our future lives, so we will have a good, happy rebirth, including being reborn in a Buddha pure land, where we will be free from the hell, hungry ghost and animal realms. If we are born in a pure land we can become enlightened there.

So, knowing these fundamental teachings can cause happiness in our future lives, not just for one life, or two or three lives, but for hundreds and thousands and millions, billions, zillions and trillions of lives until we are free forever from samsara. We will be free from continuously taking rebirth—the aggregates taking birth. These aggregates come from the contaminated seed of delusion and are caused by karma and delusion. This is what continues in samsara. It is not until we stop this completely that there is no more death and rebirth and no more oceans of samsaric suffering, so we can achieve ultimate happiness, the blissful state of peace forever.

For this we need to understand true suffering, the true cause of suffering and the true path taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. We need to learn and practice, so we are able to achieve ultimate happiness—the total liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes. Even more importantly, we are able to cause all sentient beings to achieve the peerless happiness, full enlightenment—the complete cessation of gross and subtle defilements and the complete qualities of all the realizations. To achieve that we need to actualize the Mahayana path—the five paths and ten bhumis according to sutra, and to achieve enlightenment by practicing the paramita path of sutra. For that, we need to collect the merit of wisdom, which is the cause of the dharmakaya, for three countless great eons. For that, we need to collect the merit of virtue for three countless great eons, which is an unbelievable amount of time.

This means sentient beings who depend on us in order to be free from suffering and to become enlightened, have to suffer for an unbelievable amount of time, eons. We can’t bear this, we can’t stand it, so Buddha revealed tantra—the quick way for sentient beings to be liberated from the oceans of samsaric suffering and to achieve full enlightenment in one brief lifetime. With tantra, we are able to collect two great merits in one lifetime, so tantra has this great skill.

Tantra has four levels; the fourth level is the Maha-anuttara path, which is the quickest path to achieve full enlightenment. The first level of tantra is Kriya Tantra. We can achieve enlightenment in one lifetime, so this is unbelievably quicker than the paramita path of sutra, where we need to achieve immortal life by prolonging our life for hundreds of years in order to achieve enlightenment. The fourth level of tantra, the Maha-anuttara path, has the greatest skill, because we can achieve full enlightenment in a brief lifetime, in this degenerate time. So practicing this path is much faster than practicing lower tantra.

The idea of the centers is offer education in all these paths of both sutra and tantra. The centers offer education in all the paths, even highest tantra, so this gives everyone the opportunity to achieve enlightenment in one brief lifetime of this degenerate time.

Regarding the prayer wheel that Ven. Gyurme is going to pass to you, I want to explain how to use it. Before using the prayer wheel and reciting mantra, please generate bodhicitta motivation.


I go for refuge until I am enlightened
To the Buddha, the Dharma and the Supreme Assembly.
By my practice of giving and the other perfections,
May I become a buddha to benefit all sentient beings.

Then generate the Four Immeasurable Thoughts:



How wonderful it would be
If all sentient beings were to abide in equanimity,
Free of hatred and attachment,
Not holding some close and others distant.

May they abide so!
I myself will make this happen.
Please, Guru-Buddha, bless me to be able to do this.

Loving Kindness

How wonderful it would be
If all sentient beings had happiness and its causes.

May they have them!
I myself will make this happen.
Please, Guru-Buddha, bless me to be able to do this.


How wonderful it would be
If all sentient beings were free of suffering and its causes.

May they be free!
I will make this happen.
Please, Guru-Buddha, bless me to be able to do this.


How wonderful it would
If all sentient beings were never separated from the happiness of higher rebirth and liberation.

May they never be separated!
I myself will make this happen.
Please, Guru-Buddha, bless me to be able to do this.

Then in particular generate this motivation:

“The purpose of my life is to benefit all sentient beings from whom I have received all my past happiness from beginingless rebirth. It is due to the kindness of numberless sentient beings (as there are numberless universes, scientifically, and also it is mentioned by Buddha), so they are most unbelievable kind, they are most precious ones.

“All my present happiness has been received due to their kindness. So they are most kind, most dear ones.

“All my future lives’ happiness is received from numberless sentient beings, who are the most kind, most precious, most dear ones.

“Then even my ultimate happiness, liberation from the oceans of samsaric sufferings and its causes, I receive from numberless sentient beings, so they are the most precious, most dear ones.

“Then full enlightenment, the peerless happiness, the completed qualities and cessation of not only the gross obscurations but the cessation of the subtle obscurations, so this is received from numberless sentient beings who are the most kind, dearest ones in my life.”

So keep your mind in that thought. Recognize and feel how precious they are.

Then there are numberless suras—worldly devas—and asuras. They are numberless in each realm, so in the same way as above, think, “I have received all my happiness from them.” Meditate on how kind and precious these most dear ones are.

Then there are numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals. Think, “I have received all my happiness from them.” Keep that in mind. Remember how they are the most precious, most kind, dearest ones in our own life. Think, “I have received all my happiness from them, to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering. From them I am able to achieve full enlightenment, the peerless happiness.”

Generally speaking, they don’t have the opportunity to practice Dharma, because they haven’t met a virtuous friend, a guru, who shows the unmistaken path to liberation and enlightenment; who shows the path how to be liberated from samsara, which is only in the nature of suffering, and who brings them to enlightenment. Also they haven’t even met the Buddhadharma, nor have they received a perfect human rebirth, which is extremely rare, with the ability to practice Dharma.

Think, “This one time I have received this perfect human rebirth and I have the opportunity to develop my mind on the path to enlightenment. I have the opportunity to help others, just this time. I have the opportunity to liberate every single sentient being from each realm from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment, therefore I must achieve full enlightenment. Therefore I am going to do the practice of turning the prayer wheel and chanting the mantra in order to achieve enlightenment quickly for all beings. In order to benefit all beings quickly, I need to achieve full enlightenment quickly, so for that I need to actualize the path to enlightenment, therefore I need to purify my defilements and obstacles and to collect extensive merit. Therefore I must generate great compassion to each and every sentient being. Therefore I am going to do the recitation of mantra and meditation of turning the prayer wheel.”

This motivation is the best motivation, the best Dharma, because we generate the mind of bodhicitta, from which we collect limitless skies of merit, skies of good luck and virtue. With this motivation, whatever we do, such as reciting OM MANI PADME HUM; each recitation is for the happiness of all sentient beings and with each mantra we collect limitless skies of merit, good karma, virtue and good luck. Each mantra becomes the cause of enlightenment and by the way becomes the cause to be free from the oceans of samsaric suffering. By the way we receive happiness of future lives, so we also receive success in this life, no question. This happens without even thinking, it just happens by the way.

I am sending you two pictures of Thousand-arm Chenrezig as a support for your meditation. You can put the larger one in your house and travel with the small one, so you can use it for your meditation and also for protection during your travels. Please frame the larger picture nicely if you are able to.

Regarding Chenrezig’s mantra, there is a short one and a long one. There is even a very long one.

Short mantra:


Long Mantra:


The benefits of reciting Chenrezig mantra are inconceivable. Reciting the long mantra one time, according to the texts, purifies the heavy negative karma of the four root downfalls of pratimoksha (individual liberation). This means it purifies the heavy negative karma of a fully ordained person who has broken a root vow (the morality of abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual intercourse, as well as telling a great lie). So, this very heavy negative karma is completely purified. It also purifies the very heavy negative karma of killing one’s father and mother, drawing blood from a Buddha, killing an arhat and causing disunity among the Sangha. If any of these heavy negative karmas are created, then without break (of taking another rebirth), immediately after we die we are reborn in the lowest hot hell, and we have to experience this heavy suffering for an inexhaustible amount of time.

By reciting this mantra one time, we also purify the negative karma of the ten nonvirtues (killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, slander, gossip, harsh speech, covetousness, ill will and heresy).

Reciting the long mantra seven times purifies 100 lifetimes of negative karma. Reciting the long mantra 21 times purifies 1,000 eons of negative karma. Reciting the long mantra 108 times (one mala) purifies 40,000 eons of negative karma.

This is just to give you a very rough idea of the benefits and the power of this mantra. Not only does it purify all this negative karma, but it also fulfills all our wishes for happiness, to achieve enlightenment, to be able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes, karma and delusion, and to bring each and every sentient being to the peerless happiness—full enlightenment. There is no greater success then this in our life. By the way, we achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric sufferings; by the way we achieve all the happiness of future lives, and by the way we achieve all the happiness of this life, as well as all our needs.

I am sending you a book, Teachings from the Mani Retreat. This book has more about the benefits of reciting the mantra and the practice, so you can get more extensive benefits by reading the book.

One thing to mention—without creating the karma we cannot find success, for example, finding a job may be unbelievable difficult, so even if we make unbelievable effort, we are unable to find success. By practicing Dharma, we are able to purify negative karma and collect extensive merits. So by reciting OM MANI PADME HUM and other methods it becomes so unbelievably easy to have success and all the happiness. By realizing that just by generating compassion, you—the one person—are able to liberate numberless sentient beings from each realm, from the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to full enlightenment. This is most amazing, so these are the benefits that we get by reciting this mantra even just one time. Then the particular benefit of this mantra is that we generate great compassion to all sentient beings.

Therefore this is the best thing that we can do for world peace. Reciting these mantras is unbelievably important, it makes our mind more peaceful, more calm and more compassionate to others. Even if we don’t know Buddhist philosophy—the hundreds of volumes of Buddha’s teachings and the 200 volumes of the commentaries of the great highly attained holy beings, the Indian great pandits, as well as the many teachings written by the enlightened Tibetan lamas. So without even learning all of this, just by chanting these mantras, it makes our life so peaceful and we can benefit others so much. Even if we have no intelligence or no understanding of Dharma, we get unbelievable benefits by reciting these mantras. We purify past negative karma, collect extensive merits and our mind becomes more compassionate to others. In this way, so many sentient beings don’t receive harm from us; they receive peace and happiness from us and we go towards enlightenment day-by-day.

This is my actual experience. In the area where I was born in Solu Khumbu, near Mount Everest, every old person can’t read Tibetan letters and they never went to school, but they live their life chanting OM MANI PADME HUM with strong faith, and they have such good hearts, incredible good hearts. Even great scholars who are very learned, know so much about Buddhist philosophy, but in their hearts maybe they are not peaceful. In fact, maybe they are developing more pride, more delusion, more problems, no inner peace, more selfish mind and so forth, instead of developing more compassion.

Please read the book Teachings from the Mani Retreat—this has a much better explanation. It is very, very important to discover this. I am sure you have good heart, so therefore you can help so many people by recite OM MANI PADME HUM mantra. You will inspire other people; so many people will be inspired by your good heart, your good example. This is how you can bring world peace, from life to life you can bring peace and happiness to all sentient beings.

So, before turning the prayer wheel and chanting the mantra, visualize Chenrezig, like the pictures I sent you. Visualize Chenrezig as an actual living being, alive, and that Chenrezig is sending compassion to you, sending nectar beams within you. The beams enter your body and mind, as well as the body and mind of all sentient beings of the six realms.

Think that yourself and all beings are completely purified of all sickness and spirit harm. The cause of karma and delusion is immediately, instantly purified, just as a dirty glass is filled with milk and all the dirty waste shoots out, so the glass becomes completely clear and clean. So think like that as you recite one mala of the mantra. Mainly concentrate on purifying; all the dirty liquid comes out and you are purified.

While reciting the next mala, concentrate on receiving all the qualities of the Compassion Buddha, Chenrezig—all the limitless skies of Chenrezig’s holy body, speech and mind, especially omniscience, great compassion for all sentient beings and perfect power to do perfect works for all sentient beings. Especially think that you receive great compassion for all sentient beings. Really try to feel that.

While you are reciting the mantra and doing the meditation, you can also turn the prayer wheel.
Then while reciting the next mala, also as you turn the prayer wheel, think that Chenrezig is purifying the sentient beings of the six realms, including the intermediate state beings (so it is seven realms). Chenrezig is purifying all their sufferings, whatever their specific suffering is, and purifying the causes, karma and delusion. Think that all sentient beings are completely purified, particularly of the five delusions (ignorance, anger, attachment, pride and jealous mind). So your main focus is that all sentient beings are purified.

Then while reciting the next mala think that you and all sentient beings receive all the qualities of Chenrezig, but mainly focus on others.

In the future when you are able to take Chenrezig great initiation, then you can actually visualize yourself as Chenrezig, but you can’t do that yet. First you need to receive Chenrezig great initiation, so until then, visualize Chenrezig on your crown or in front of you.

At the end of your practice, please dedicate well:

“Due to all the three-time merit collected by myself, numberless sentient beings, buddhas and bodhisattvas, may the precious bodhicitta mind be developed in my heart and in the hearts of all my family members, in the hearts of all the leaders of the world, as well as in the hearts of all the people who follow different religions, as well as in the hearts of all sentient beings. Whatever bodhicitta has already been developed, may it not decrease, but increase forever more.

“Due to all the three-time merit collected by myself, numberless sentient beings, buddhas and bodhisattvas, which exist, but who are empty from their own side, may the I, which exists but is empty from its own side, achieve complete Buddha’s enlightenment, which exists but which is empty from its own side, and lead all the sentient beings, who exist but who are empty from their own side, to full enlightenment, which exists but which is empty from its own side, and may I actualize this by myself alone.

“Due to all the three-time merit collected by myself, numberless sentient beings, buddhas and bodhisattvas, by having generated bodhicitta in my heart every day, may everyone in the world live their life only to benefit others, may no-one harm another and whatever they do with their body, speech and mind, may it only cause enlightenment and happiness to all sentient beings. May no-one experience war, famine, disease, torture, sickness, dangers of earth, water, tsunami, wind, as well as may no-one experience dangers when travelling. May they always be safe when travelling, including in the airplane.”

Thank you very much. I don’t need any present, you mentioned that you wanted to give, but if you could do this practice it would be the most unbelievable present to me. Maybe in the airplane you may not be able to carry the prayer wheel (I’m not sure) but you can carry the mala and chant the mantra and do the same meditation.

In the future it would be so great if they could produce airplanes that have a prayer wheel inside or on the roof. There could be compartment that has a large prayer wheel inside and those people who want to practice or turn the prayer wheel can come in the compartment and turn it (this is just to make you laugh).

Thank you very much. If you are able to practice like this, it is the best present; better than offering a billion, zillion dollars. Thank you very much.

With much love and prayers,

Lama Zopa

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