In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, prayer wheel practice is an important aspect of devotion. This instructive paperback has been assembled by Lorne Ladner, a psychologist who is the director of the Guhyasamaja Tibetan Buddhist Center near Washington, D. C. He presents a useful overview of this practice and several pertinent texts by renowned Tibetan teachers including Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche and the Fourth Panchen Lama. There are also diagrams, photos, and a description of the proper method for constructing and filling a prayer wheel with mantras.
According to Ladner, the purpose of this practice is to help individuals purify negativity, collect virtue, and move forward on the path to enlightenment. Prayer wheel practice is "designed to simultaneously engage one's 'three doors' body, speech, and mind in virtue. With one's body, one turns the prayer wheel. With one's speech, one recites the mantra of Avalokiteshvara. And with one's mind, one engages in specific contemplations and visualizations." The result is a process whereby individuals can "break free of the tyranny and narrowness of ordinary self concepts" and develop compassion for all beings.
Prayer wheels are made in a wide range of sizes from handheld and desktop models to large, artistically inspired ones. They are placed over fire, outside in the wind, or in water. In the latter, the water is blessed, thus bringing purification to all the billions of animals and insects there.