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Switch to Forum Live View Choosing the right mala beads
10 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2008 - 11:05PM #1
Fallenwillrise
Posts: 23
How do i find the right prayer beads. I want to use them as a tool to help me memorize  things like prayers or chants/mantras, but i dont know which are appropriate. Im not trying to make a fashion statement at all. I personally would prefer some simple wooden ones, like sandalwood ones. But im not sure which i should get.

Theres 108 bead ones,  and 21 bead and etc....does anybody know anything on this?
I tried researching it myself through some websites, but have yet to yeild anything definate and im still not sure.

Can anyone offer some advice on this?

Thanks.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 12:08AM #2
sophrosyne
Posts: 37
Hi Fallen,

The mala is a useful tool for focusing your mind on your mantra recitation, as well as for counting them. Traditional malas have 108 beads - a carry over from Hinduism (significance of the number 108) - but some have smaller numbers, usually a factor of 108.

To use a mala, you recite one mantra, then move your thumb and forefinger along the next bead and repeat. Here's a great manual on using your mantra (PDF). An here's an explanation on what NOT to do with a mala.

The Tibetan Nun's Project has an online shop where you can buy malas of varying sizes. They are of very high quality and craftsmanship. Plus, you support the livelihood and education of Tibetan Nun refugees.

Best wishes,
Ben
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 12:55AM #3
Fallenwillrise
Posts: 23
[QUOTE=sophrosyne;265110]Hi Fallen,

The mala is a useful tool for focusing your mind on your mantra recitation, as well as for counting them. Traditional malas have 108 beads - a carry over from Hinduism (significance of the number 108) - but some have smaller numbers, usually a factor of 108.

To use a mala, you recite one mantra, then move your thumb and forefinger along the next bead and repeat. Here's a great manual on using your mantra (PDF). An here's an explanation on what NOT to do with a mala.

The Tibetan Nun's Project has an online shop where you can buy malas of varying sizes. They are of very high quality and craftsmanship. Plus, you support the livelihood and education of Tibetan Nun refugees.

Best wishes,
Ben[/QUOTE]

thanks...but are things different for you if you dont neccesarily follow tibet tradition?

And what number of beads should i start with. Should start with 20 something beads and work my way up?

And whats the best quality wood malas?

Thanks again.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 1:00AM #4
sophrosyne
Posts: 37
Hi,

The technique for using a mala has been the same in every tradition I've practiced in.

You may start with whatever number you find useful. There is no special requirement. I personally have a 108 bead mala that I keep at home, and carry a shorter one of 21 beads when I'm out.

If you're mind is set on wood, I really like the sandalwood malas. They're durable and have a great scent.

cheers,
b.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2008 - 10:42AM #5
Engyo
Posts: 138
[QUOTE=Fallenwillrise;265158]thanks...but are things different for you if you dont neccesarily follow tibet tradition?

And what number of beads should i start with. Should start with 20 something beads and work my way up?

And whats the best quality wood malas?

Thanks again.[/QUOTE]Hi, FWR -

Certain Japanese traditions have specialized malas, but using one is not any sort of requirement; they are just traditional for those traditions.  For example, all Nichiren Buddhists use a 108-bead mala with 5 tassels and two guru beads.  Different Nichiren schools will use different tassel colors or styles to denote things like whether someone is clergy or not, etc., but all Nichiren Buddhists use the 5-tassel mala.  As far as woods go, they are available in everything from plastic through painted wood to expensive ones like sandalwood or camphor wood to carved ones to semi-precious stone malas.

Since my school is Japanese, that is where I have detailed knowledge.  It's probably best to worry about the beads after you have settled down with a particular tradition or school; a mala is helpful, but not really necessary (in all traditions that I am aware of).
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 09, 2008 - 4:00PM #6
Fallenwillrise
Posts: 23
[QUOTE=Engyo;270948]Hi, FWR -

Certain Japanese traditions have specialized malas, but using one is not any sort of requirement; they are just traditional for those traditions.  For example, all Nichiren Buddhists use a 108-bead mala with 5 tassels and two guru beads.  Different Nichiren schools will use different tassel colors or styles to denote things like whether someone is clergy or not, etc., but all Nichiren Buddhists use the 5-tassel mala.  As far as woods go, they are available in everything from plastic through painted wood to expensive ones like sandalwood or camphor wood to carved ones to semi-precious stone malas.

Since my school is Japanese, that is where I have detailed knowledge.  It's probably best to worry about the beads after you have settled down with a particular tradition or school; a mala is helpful, but not really necessary (in all traditions that I am aware of).[/QUOTE]


Thank you very much for that added info, with each reply so far, ive gotten more understanding of the thing.

I really want to use the beads as a tool to help, becouse God knows i need some help like that, in part as a way to encourage me.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 09, 2008 - 9:07PM #7
MatisyahuSk8er
Posts: 52
[QUOTE=Fallenwillrise;264986]How do i find the right prayer beads. I want to use them as a tool to help me memorize  things like prayers or chants/mantras, but i dont know which are appropriate. Im not trying to make a fashion statement at all. I personally would prefer some simple wooden ones, like sandalwood ones. But im not sure which i should get.

Theres 108 bead ones,  and 21 bead and etc....does anybody know anything on this?
I tried researching it myself through some websites, but have yet to yeild anything definate and im still not sure.

Can anyone offer some advice on this?

Thanks.[/QUOTE]

It's imortant to not worry about it too much, it's just a mala. The mala is just a tool to an end, and it is not even a requirement to quote Bruce Lee it is like a boat to take you to the other side of the river, once you get there don't carry the boat on your back. Though I practice Zen Buddhism, I'm not sure about the other schools but I'm pretty sure it's something all sects agree on. I personally have a traditional 108 bead mala with one tassel, made of rosewood but I don't use it as often as I like. What I do use is my wrist mala, a 27 bead ebony mala, I like it, and it's only 27 beads so I can do the whole mala virtually anywhere, also, wearing it on my wrist helps me remember to stay mindful. That and the tassel is small so it doesn't bother me, I could never wear the 108 bead mala on my wrist because the tassel would bother me lol.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2008 - 12:46PM #8
Gerald_ford
Posts: 34
I believe the Buddha was the first one to use the "boat" analogy by the way.  Bruce Lee was likely paraphrasing him.  With that said, yes malas are only used in some traditions as tools for practice.  In Pure Land Buddhism, we do carry smaller malas, but we only use them around our hands when we do gassho (putting the hands together).  It symbolizes that we are one with Amida Buddha.  Other than that, it serves no purpose to us.

Hope that helps.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2008 - 5:25PM #9
Geistbaer
Posts: 3
Hi!  I also practice within the Tibetan (Mahayana) Tradition.  If you want a wrist mala, I would suggest 27 beads since that number is a factor of 108.  It makes counting a whole mala easier.

I personally prefer a mala with spacers dividing the 108 beads into 4 sets of 27.  I would recommend the bodhiseed mala as it is often suggested for retreats.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2008 - 11:28AM #10
ArizumaBrett
Posts: 5
also, don't forget your "built-in mala". This one was taught to me by one of the Lamas: Use your thumb to count each finger tip and joint along each finger...  this "bone-and-skin" mala is always there waiting for your use...and is especially holy.. ;*)
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