Prayer Wheels 3.0 — “Mindful meritorious multi-faith mantra wheels” — Holy Land Prayer Wheels, guided by advice from H.E. Garchen Rinpoche

Feature Contents

    Prayer Wheels are highly recommended for mindful, meritorious, Bodhichitta practice by many prominent Tibetan teachers from His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche. The great teacher Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche appears to have one spinning in his hands almost constantly, even during retreats and teachings.

     

    in front Rinpoche and Dagme behind them is Ayelet and Micha and behind them is Tali Ritz
    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche arrives at Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel for a visit. Ayelet and Micha Strauss, Tali Ritz, and Dagme. Photo: Arbel Rom of EH Productions.

     

    Due to the popularity of prayer wheels, we revisited Holy Land Prayer Wheels — one of the leading innovators of  “Prayer Wheels 2.0 and 3.0” — inspired by Garchen Rinpoche. Before we dive into our interview with Micha Strauss of Holy Land Prayer Wheels — who have made prayer wheels for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche, and numerous other teachers  on the latest — it can help to describe the benefits of the Mani Wheel according to Sutra and teachers. If you’d like to jump ahead to our interview with the creative minds of Holy Land Prayer Wheels, scroll down to “Prayer Wheels 3.0.”

     

    Buddha Weekly Garchen Rinpoche with two globe peace prayer wheels photo Steve Hammer Holy Land Prayer Wheels Buddhism
    Garchen Rinpoche with two globe peace prayer wheels from Holy Land Prayer Wheels. Photo by Steve Hamner.

     

    Editor — Don’t miss the first question — the wonderful anecdote of Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche and the near accident on the highway! And don’t miss the story about the very special World Peace Prayer Wheel containing prayers from many faiths around the world! It is so touching!

     

    Ina Bieler Rinpoches translator
    Garchen Rinpoche and Ina Bieler, who is famously his translator at teachings. Here, they are touring the Holy Land Prayer Wheels studio. Photo: Arbel Rom of EH Productions.

     

     

    Benefits of the Prayer Wheel

    Many teachers — notable among the Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche — strongly advise Prayer Wheel practice for everyone. The earliest advice on the practice came from  Shakyamuni Buddha [1]:

    “For those who turn the lotus wheel… it is like the continuous flow of an unobstructed river. For those sentient beings in the three lower realms the turning churns them up from the depths… if the yogic practitioner turns, the two aims will be instantaneously accomplished. If a monk turns the lotus wheel, all vows will be renewed. If a tantric practitioner turns the Lotus Wheel, the defilements will be purified and the face of the deity will appear. If a healer turns the lotus wheel, all illnesses will be cured…”

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in front of Buddha painting at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel Buddhism
    Garchen Rinpoche spins a prayer wheel during his tour of Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

     

    The great Lotus Born Buddha Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava[1]:

    “Even those lacking perserverance in their practice, who pass the time passively, will be able to attain mystic powers. Those with perseverance for reciting the mantra and turning the wheel will undoubtedly attain the tenth bhumi; it instantly eliminates all the immeasurable negative karmic obscurations. Whatever Yidam you wish to practice will be achieved simultaneously.”

    Lama Zopa’s advice:

    “Turning the prayer wheel once is the same as having done many years of retreat.”

    Lama Gungtangpa (1762-1823):

    “It is the highest of protections and it cuts off rebirth of the six types, it purifies the three transitional states, and, the spinning is of even greater purity than, the mantra recitation itself; the benefits likewise are much greater.”

    Garchen Rinpoche explains the benefits of the Prayer Wheel in a short teaching video:

     


    Previous Stories on Dharma Wheels in Buddha Weekly

    Photos Credits: The photos of Garchen Rinpoche visiting Holy Land Prayer Wheels are from Arbel Rom of EH Productions — who also made the video clip the Holy Land studio embedded immediately below. [His website is here>>>] All other photos are courtesy of Holy Land Prayer Wheels.


    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche with with two types of prayer wheel Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel Buddhism
    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche at Holy Land Prayer Wheels trying out several styles of prayer wheel, including a new favorite, a children’s top prayer wheel.

    Prayer Wheels 3.0?

    Inspired by H.E. Garchen Rinpoche’s teachings, Micha and Ayelet Strauss created “Prayer Wheels 2.0” back in 2008 — using microfilm to allow for millions of mantras in a single wheel — versus a few hundred on scrolled paper. We enthusiastically covered Holy Land Prayer Wheels in our previous prayer wheel feature,  “Inspired by Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche, Holy Land Prayer Wheels personalize Tibetan Prayer Wheels: an interview with Micha Strauss” found here>>

    Video showing how the 3.0 Prayer Wheels are crafted lovingly and by hand at Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

    Now with “Prayer Wheels 3.0” it was time to revisit the loving artists at Holy Land Prayer Wheels. Microfilm allowed for custom mantras, but the compassionate craftspeople at Holy Land Prayer Wheels innovated wheels for numerous “use case” scenarios: for chronic patient practitioners, levitating prayer wheels (for non-stop blessings), a unique “peace” earth globe prayer wheel, in the spirit of world peace, wearable pendant prayer wheels, and, now, a line of multi-faith Prayer Wheels — endorsed by Garchen Rinpoche — for Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other faiths.

    The goal was to expand the virtuous practice of prayer wheels to as many sentient beings as possible. Holy Land Prayer Wheels still largely make Tibetan Buddhist mantra wheels — albeit in more shapes and sizes than you can imagine (considering they customize!) — but now they are available to compassionate people of other faiths.

     

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche with Micha and Strauss at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel with lathe Buddhism
    Garchen Rinpoche examined some of the equipment at Holy Land Prayer Wheels. Beside him is Ina Bieler, then Martin Solomiak and on the right Micha Strauss.

     

    When Micha Strauss asked His Eminence about the idea, Rinpoche replied:

    “Of course it is okay to make a Jewish prayer wheel. Whatever you do that comes from a wish to help others is virtuous. When we pray for the happiness of others it is very powerful, when we pray for our own happiness, there is not much benefit. You should definitely also ask the Rabbi for permission and if it is ok with him then it is fine. When spinning the prayer wheel, it is important to be mindful because virtue comes from the mind. Everything we do with conscientiousness becomes virtuous.”

    With a “revisit” in mind, we asked Micha and Ayelet of Holy Land Prayer Wheels about these new innovations and how they can benefit sentient beings. First, of course, we had to know more about His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche’s visit to Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel. (Yes, it was in 2013, but it was a precious, historical moment!)


    Contacting Holy Land Prayer Wheels:


    mom standing is Merav Eliot Cohen with her children Tara Ana Eliot Cohen and Doron Eliot Cohen and behind them is Martin Solomiak.
    Garchen Rinpoche plays with the children of Merav Eliot Cohen, Tara-Ana Eliot Cohen, and Doron Eliot Cohen(standing) Tara-Ana Eliot Cohen and Doron Eliot Cohen. Behind them is Martin Solomiak.

    Garchen Rinpoche’s tour of Holy Land Prayer Wheels

    Buddha Weekly: Please share any anecdotes about His Eminence’s tour of your facility. 

    Answer: “Back in 2013 while giving teachings in Israel, Rinpoche asked to pass through our prayer wheel-making studio on the way to the airport at the end of his stay here in Israel.

    This was without a doubt one of my most amazing highlights of my life. Rinpoche did a blessing ceremony to the entire place and to the microfilm mantra rolls but also conducted a blessing ceremony for the machines too.

    He spoke to the prayer wheels in Tibetan, so I have no idea what he told them! It looked like they were long-lost friends who got reunited…

     

    Buddha Weekly Garchen Rinpoche with globe peace prayer wheel Holy Land Buddhism
    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche with a Globe World Peace Prayer Wheel from Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

     

    When sitting later for tea we showed Rinpoche our latest creation (at that time) a spinning top made from wood with the Mani mantra on it. Since we had so many customers tell us about their children wanting to spin their prayer wheel, we felt that there must be a way to make a “prayer wheel for children” and since we have the spinning top in our Jewish heritage, we thought why not make a Buddhist top? Have the Mani mantra engraved on it and then children can spin mantras too! These tops were a hit!

     

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel with a prayer wheel top for children Buddhism
    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche holds one of the prayer wheel children’s tops with a prayer wheel.

     

    Rinpoche’s big smile

    When we showed this top to Rinpoche his eyes lit up and a big smile came across his face! He was saying that this is something he remembers from his own childhood in Tibet and that he has not seen one in so many years! And what a great idea it is to make them! He played with it for the longest time on the table, spinning it again and again… it seemed like he has traveled back in time to his own childhood and was so overjoyed with this prayer wheel top!

    When it was time to go, we all got into the van (me being the driver with Rinpoche and Ayelet by my side) and headed out to the airport. As we got closer there was a major traffic jam on the highway and we all started to get a bit nervous that we will not make it in time for the flight. Traffic was crawling along and so were we, in this huge van packed with suitcases, monks, nuns, a few lay practitioners, a Buddhist master and his translator, Ina Bieler.

     

    Buddha Weekly Garchen Rinpoche and entourage getting into the van thanks to Rinpoche they arrived safely after a near miss with a truck on the highway Buddhism
    Garchen RInpoche and his travel companions getting into the van to go to the airport. They had a near accident on the highway, but RInpoche smiled through the entire incident — see the story in the interview.

     

    All of a sudden, traffic opened up and we started to roll again. Since we lost valuable time, I was told to step on it so we will make it in time! So, like a good soldier, I did as I was commanded and stepped on the gas.

    “It looked like we were all going to die…”

    In Israel, when traveling on the highway to the airport you go through a tunnel which at its end you go off to the right for the off ramp that leads to another highway to the airport. At the end of that tunnel, to the right was a car standing on the shoulder. All of a sudden it bolted into the highway right in front of us as we were supposed to veer to the right to get off of the highway… right behind me and to the left of me was a huge 18-wheeler who was speeding along, and right behind me was a bus… since we were driving with this huge van packed with stuff and people, I could not do anything and it looked like we are all going to die, crashing into this car that just drove into our lane…

    This all happened so quickly!

    Rinpoche shouted: “Mahakala! Mahakala! Mahakala!” pointing with his hand gesture to some unseen deity, and like magic, we passed through between the car and the 18-wheeler truck almost touching them both…

    Somehow, I was relaxed and concentrated… my hands just turned the steering wheel slightly to the left to avoid the car and then slightly to the right to avoid the 18-wheeler semi-truck — we just glided between all of them, inches separating us at high speed… everyone in the car was screaming since it looked like the sure end of us all, but nothing happened!

     

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche with ... ... at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel Buddhism
    Garchen Rinpoche arriving at Holy Land Prayer Wheels. Ayelet bows to Rinpoche, and to his right is Dagme.

     

    Rinpoche was smiling as we all collected our breath and said that he saw Mahakala there and asked for his intervention to help us all… I am a good driver; I drive a lot in my life, but this moment in time was a sure crash that never happened… thank you, Rinpoche for saving us all!”

     

    Prayer Wheel innovation 3.0 — what’s new?

    Buddha Weekly: In our last interview, at that time, you mentioned a visit of His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche to Israel, and how it ultimately became the karmic connection to Prayer Wheels 2.0 — a modern enhancement on prayer wheels using microfilm to maximize the number of mantras and beautifully crafted wood for aesthetics. You also enabled custom mantras, so that people could spin the mantras of their favorite practice. It seems that there’s now a Prayer Wheels 3.0. Please tell us about some of your new innovations since we last talked.

    Answer: “Rinpoche’s arrival to teach in Israel back in the year 2008 was a huge impact on our lives (Myself and Ayelet) and changed the course of our lives completely… for some unknown reason we felt an inexplicable urge to craft prayer wheels even though we did not know anything about them! Rinpoche’s prayer wheel turning in his hand did something to the both of us and we just had to craft a prayer wheel.

     

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel Buddhism
    Garchen Rinpoche during his tour of the Holy Land Workshop.

     

    We did not know how, we did not know why, and there was no “plan”… just an urge…. I had some training as a young child in school on a metal lathe so I had some idea on how to do what I wanted, but I had no skills in woodturning… but that did not stop me!

    The 2.0 version of the Prayer Wheel came later when I finally started to use my creativity and think outside of the box… I am a creative person and I like to challenge myself to do things that first seem impossible and then, later on I find a way how to do them… I find the solutions sometimes in my dreams, sometimes upon waking up in the morning… it suddenly comes to me…

    Unique levitating prayer wheel from Holy Land Prayer Wheels (see the story below):

     

    The 2.0 version was different in style and design, something new… a new approach to prayer wheels in an artistic way as well as in comfort. It was made so you could spin the prayer wheel much longer since you could rest the bottom cap of the prayer wheel on your hand and open your fingers a bit from the handle… that made a difference in the time I could spin the prayer wheel… it gave my fingers gripping the handle a rest and let some air flow through them, all while still spinning my prayer wheel continually without stopping.

    This was a big deal for me and I thought that other practitioners might enjoy this too! Also, it gave the prayer wheel a feeling of “renewal” approach, that it was a prayer wheel of the 21st century… a more special “artistic” approach to it… that opened the door to more creative ideas that followed in prayer wheel designs.

    When Tibetan Buddhism came to the west, the Western practitioners felt strong connections to different deities and asked for prayer wheels to be made with different mantras in them. The “original” prayer wheel contained the Mani mantra, but, in the west, practitioners requested other mantras to be put in them. Rinpoche told me a long time ago that “Mani mantra is king”, and all mantras are the same in essence so it does not matter which mantra is in the prayer wheel. What is important is the devotion and Bodhichitta one feels while spinning the prayer wheel.

     

    Buddha Weekly Tara Prayer Wheel Buddhism
    The author’s Green Tara prayer wheels (Prayer Wheel 2.0), filled with millions of Tara Mantras on microfilm — this one custom crafted by Micha Strauss and beautifully painted by Ayelet Strauss of Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

     

    If you feel a strong connection to Green Tara, or to White Tara, or to Vajrasattva, and so on, and you would feel that spinning their mantra in your prayer wheel out to all beings would benefit them, there is nothing wrong with that. Today, a Buddhist microfilm company in Oregon USA makes many mantras on microfilm, but we only hold in our inventory about 15 to 17 different ones which are the most asked for.

    Since microfilm is the most expensive material we use in our prayer wheels (except our time of course) we cannot hold in our stock all the different mantras just because it is too expansive for us to do so. A reel of microfilm can produce a few prayer wheels, but if only one customer wants that specific mantra in his prayer wheel and we do not have it in stock, if we order a 2000ft microfilm reel of that specific mantra we would have that reel ley in our microfilm drawer forever after that and maybe never get used again in other future prayer wheels… we cannot afford that financially… I wish we could! Our dream was (and still is) to be wealthy enough to retire and just make prayer wheels for all who need them without the need to “make a living” from crafting them… maybe one day our Karma will provide the right circumstances and we can live our dream! Ha! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

    Table Top version of the Mani Wheel (Om Mani Padme Hum mantras) with millions of mantras on microfilm, from Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

    A special request for a bedridden patient

     

    Over the years we got many requests to craft different designs but one specific request started a whole new prayer wheel design series! There is a loving lovely couple living in the US who followed our prayer wheel journey from the very first beginning back in 2009. One day the husband asked me to craft a prayer wheel for his lovely wife who is bedridden most of the time.

    I thought a lot about his request and how can I make a prayer wheel that would be the easiest for her to spin while lying down in bed? What shape would offer the most comfortable way and use as little energy as possible to spin? What base should it have to stay upright and not topple over while spinning? And after a while of contemplating this request, it finally came to me! A round sphere!

    Buddha Weekly H.E. Garchen Rinpoche with Micha and Ayelet Strauss at the workshop of Holy Land Prayer Wheels in Israel spinning wheels Buddhism
    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche (front) with Micha and Ayelet Strauss behind.

     

    And so, I started to think how to do this? How can I make a round sphere like prayer wheel? It took some time to get it right but, in the end, I had a round spherical tabletop prayer wheel for them and they loved it! It was the perfect prayer wheel design for her to spin while in bed! That opened my mind to more ideas… how do I make a handheld spherical prayer wheel?! This also took me a while to figure out, but one day, while driving on the road back from the city I had a vision!

    I turned to Ayelet who was sitting next to me in the car and said: “I got it! I know how to make a spherical hand-held prayer wheel!!” ah… so much joy in that moment of clarity! When so much time passes and all of a sudden there is a moment of realization! That is how the spherical prayer wheel came to life.”

     

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    A new table top design (prayer wheel 3.0) with Christian prayers.

     

    Prayer wheels for many faiths

    Question: “You were inspired to expand the benefits of Prayer Wheels to the faithful in other spiritual paths, a beautiful act of Bodhichitta. In addition to multiple mantras — beyond the traditional Om Mani Padme Hum — you now have Jewish, Christian, Muslim and “Peace” prayer wheels. Please tell us what inspired you, and how it manifested.”

    “This is an amazing story! As I have mentioned, we fell in love with prayer wheels when H.E. Garchen Rinpoche came to give teachings in Israel back in 2008 and in February of 2009, we crafted our very first prayer wheel! Not long after that we started to get requests to make more prayer wheels and soon enough, we were making prayer wheels.

     

    Buddha Weekly Prayer Wheel Table laid out for Garchen Rinpoche to view Buddhism
    A row of some of the prayer wheels Garchen Rinpoche took for a spin while at Holy Land Prayer Wheels, including, in the foreground, the prayer wheel tops.

     

    Maybe a year into this new found hobby, a very close friend came to us and said: “I love this! The idea of spinning out the mantra to all beings is amazing! What an amazing concept! Plus, I really love your artwork. But I don’t know Buddha… I know Judaism… can you make me a prayer wheel with a Jewish prayer inside?”

    This one simple question took us on a 3-year ride… of course the first person to consult with was Rinpoche who said:

    “Of course it is ok to make a Jewish prayer wheel. Whatever you do that comes from a wish to help others is virtuous. When we pray for the happiness of others it is very powerful, when we pray for our own happiness, there is not much benefit. You should definitely also ask the Rabbi for permission and if it is ok with him then it is fine. When spinning the prayer wheel, it is important to be mindful because virtue comes from the mind. Everything we do with conscientiousness becomes virtuous.”

    Micha Strauss from Holy Land Prayer Wheels, demonstrates how easy it is to spin a Prayer Wheel:

     

     

    And so, we took Rinpoche’s advice and started to seek a Rabbi to consult with.

    You must understand that there is a big difference in View between the Jewish faith and Buddhism and we felt that combining the two would be impossible… but we were wrong! Not a single Rabbi we talked with said it is a bad idea! They all gave us tips and points to consider but none of them said it was wrong or a bad idea… since there are no prayer wheels in the Jewish tradition, this will not be a holy object to the religious Jewish folks but a spiritual object to most Jewish people and we were totally fine with that. We did not come to change anything, just offer something new to those that feel the connection to prayer wheels but need them to have their own faith’s prayers inside them…

    Jewish Prayer Wheel tabletop version innovated by Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

     

    So, after 3 years of asking and asking we finally came to the conclusion that we were the ones holding this back from happening… we were the ones afraid to do so while all around us said: “go for it.” And so, we did! Since this new prayer wheel had to have a Jewish prayer inside, we needed someone who is deep in knowledge of the Jewish religion but will not be afraid to help us making this prayer wheel. luck have it, we found a new friend who was a Kabbala master and had his own publishing company. We sat with him and told him about the new Jewish prayer wheel and he gave us a lecture about the Jewish prayer we asked him to wright for us. He felt very honored to be able to help this new prayer wheel to be born and since that time till now he has been printing for us our Jewish prayers that go into our Jewish prayer wheels. We have now 5 different Jewish prayers that are the most asked for in our line of Jewish prayer wheels.

     

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    One in a new line of multi-faith table top prayer wheels (Prayer Wheels 3.0)

     

    Muslim Prayer Wheel

    Not long after that, one of our close friends who is the Sheik of a nearby village asked us: “why is there no Muslim prayer wheel? Make one for me please”. We asked him what prayer from the Koran would be the most appropriate to have inside this new Muslim prayer wheel? He thought about this for some time and said: “Surat El Fatiha”, the opening prayer from the Koran would be the most appropriate, so we asked him to write it down for us in his own hand writing and so he did! That is the prayer that goes inside our Muslim prayer wheels!

    Christian Prayer Wheel

    And, of course, not long after that we got our first request of a Christian prayer wheel! We went to the nearby Church and looked for a priest to consult with as to what would be the most appropriate prayer to be put inside a Christian prayer wheel.

    Christian table-top prayer wheel available from Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

    We went to mount Tabor’s Church called the Church of the Transfiguration and found a priest to ask. We explained to him the idea and he immediately said: “go to the Church of the Pater Noster in Jerusalem. That is the place where Jesus Christ spoke the Lord’s prayer for the first time. That prayer would be the best one to be placed inside a prayer wheel for Christians,” and so we did.

    We drove off to Jerusalem and went inside the church. There are 140+ plaques on the walls with the Lord’s prayer in many different languages and we took the Aramaic script one and digitalized it so we can have it placed inside our Christian prayer wheels! After all, this was the language spoken in those times. We felt that this is the most original version of the Lord’s prayer that we could find and that is how our Christian prayer wheel came to be born.

    Now we were making prayer wheels for different faiths! This was the first time ever that something like that has happened in history as far as we knew… one day we got a request from a friend who is very big in uniting Jewish and Arab folks together to make him a “peace prayer wheel” to be placed outside his clinic… wow, this was an amazing idea and concept!

    One version of the world Peace Prayer Wheel from Holy Land Prayer Wheels with prayers from different faiths together, in the spirit of world harmony — this concept is available hand held, table top and pendant:

     

    World Peace Prayer Wheels

    One prayer wheel that holds ALL these different frequencies in written form and spin out one frequency of unity! What a concept! And so, we built him a big outdoor peace prayer wheel! It was a big project for us and we asked all the people in our small community to take part so to have this karma touch them as well… some came to help put it together, some came to make one brush stroke of lacquer… it was so beautiful!

     

    Buddha Weekly One of the new World Globe Prayer Wheels innovated by Holy Land Prayer Wheels Buddhism
    One of the beautiful, innovated prayer wheels — the globe world peace style — designed and crafted by Micha and hand-painted by Ayelet.

     

    And in the end, the first-ever peace prayer wheel was born! We set it up outside his clinic and a Buddhist teacher who was in Israel at that time giving teachings came to do a blessing ceremony for it. Many people came and gathered and it was a beautiful moment in time… we felt so humbled and thankful…. What did we do in our previous lives to have come to this point in time? I do not know… we must have done something good!

    Later on, we added a Bhai faith unity prayer that we have also collected into our peace prayer wheels, and in 2018 while at the Garchen Buddhist Institute we were asked by a loving practitioner who taught meditation to prisoners, why not put a Native American prayer inside it too? What an amazing idea! that sent us down a road which at its end we learned how to make a “Wapakta,” which is a Lakota people prayer knot since the Lakota people did not have written language.

     

    Buddha Weekly Galactic Peace prayer Wheel Holy Land Buddhism
    Galactic Peace globe prayer wheel — another beautiful Prayer Wheel 3 design by Micha and Ayelet.

     

    We received teachings and permission on how to make these prayer knots and the first peace prayer wheel that contained these knots inside it with all other prayers and mantras, was made in a tipi form and sent to the elders of the Lakota people as a token of gratitude for sharing with us their tradition and allowing us to put it in our prayer wheels for world peace.

    Garchen Rinpoche’s World Peace Prayer

    Later on that year, H.E. Garchen Rinpoche wrote a world peace prayer and asked his students to recite it daily in their practice, so with his permission, we added it too inside our world peace prayer wheels.

    In October of 2018 just before our first ever trip to Garchen Buddhist Institute (GBI), Rinpoche came to give teachings in Israel. At that time, we had made two matching spherical painted world peace prayer wheels for me and for Ayelet to spin — so, we decided to offer them both to Rinpoche…  Rinpoche told us what an amazing idea this “world peace prayer wheel” is! We were so over joyed!

    The Globe World Peace hand wheel — similar design to the one used by Garchen Rinpoche:

     

     

    My world peace prayer wheel had the word “one” in Hebrew script on it and it was such a joyful feeling seeing Rinpoche spin this prayer wheel in his hand while giving teachings… one year later we were to travel to GBI once more in November of 2019 and just before we went, we had a request come in via Email from GBI. Rinpoche had decided to build a “world peace prayer wheel” at the center — and can we please share with them all the different prayers we have collected so they can all be placed inside of it.

    When we arrived at GBI in November the prayer wheel was just finished and set up and we were so over whelmed… something we did had a profound impact… a few days later, a man from the Hopi tribe who also gave a prayer to be placed inside this peace prayer wheel came down to GBI and he and Rinpoche made a ceremony to celebrate the new world peace prayer wheel and its coming into existence for the benefit of all beings!

    It was such a powerful ceremony! I cried… this is not something that happens to me… but right there and then I cried tears of joy… at some point at the end of the ceremony, the Hopi man turned to me and said: “you! Israel! Come here. Sit with us” so I joined … I cried some more… it was such a powerful experience! We asked him if we can also have a Hopi prayer to put in our world peace prayer wheels and he requested that we speak to an elder and ask for permission. And so we did.  We explained to the elder our wish and he agreed to share with us a Hopi prayer for peace. Two weeks later he passed away and we felt so incredibly fortunate to have met him in person in this life and receive his blessings and prayer…

    Buddha Weekly Table Top Prayer Wheel Peace model Holy Land Buddhism
    A “world peace” tabletop Prayer Wheel from Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

    The Stupa Prayer Wheel for His Holiness the Dalai Lama

    One last “peace prayer wheel story” for you, we have an artist friend who is also a student of Garchen Rinpoche but she also has a very strong connection to H.H. the Dalai Lama who she met in person a few times. She makes — among other things — a tiny Atisha’s stupa made from bronze. It is a perfect replica in dimensions, just very small and beautiful. When Rinpoche was in Israel giving teachings, she offered him one stupa of hers — and he accepted it. As he took it, he placed it on his pinky finger and started to spin it like a prayer wheel laughing… this put a thought in her mind, why not make a prayer wheel collaboration and have one of our tabletop prayer wheels made with her bronze stupa on top of it?

    She came over to our studio and we discussed her new amazing idea. What we eventually came up with was a world peace tabletop prayer wheel in a special design that we made so she could take it with her to H.H. the Dalai Lama to offer him in a privet session… and she did! His Holiness loved this prayer wheel and said it was such a good idea for our time! We had two prayer wheels like that made, one for His Holiness and one was given to H.E. Garchen Rinpoche who helped her come up with this idea.”

     

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    This unique Levitating Prayer Wheel was innovated by Micha Strauss of Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

     

    A Levitating Prayer Wheel?

    Buddha Weekly: You also innovated new modern technology that goes beyond microfilm and ball-bearings. Tell us, for instance, about your electromagnetic levitating table top prayer wheel. It’s quite intriguing.

    Ah! This is where creative thinking took a twist! I saw this electromagnetic levitating mechanism online one day and thought “how can I make a prayer wheel with that?”

    It took me sometime and a few failed attempts to make this amazing prayer wheel come to life but eventually I made it! This is definitely one of the most amazing prayer wheels we have ever made! Only a few were made — since it takes so much time and it is expensive to make — so not many practitioners can afford it, but it is an innovation we wanted to realize. When people see it for the first time, it just blows their minds! It is truly a work of art! I think this is something very special and we both feel so happy that we can make these available to whom ever is interested in owning a prayer wheel like that. Over time, we will be making more of these and offer them on our shop.”

     

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    World peace table top globe prayer wheel from Holy Land Prayer Wheels.

     

    World peace prayer wheel?

    Question: What inspired your lovely Peace prayer wheel painted with the globe image. It’s quite unique and beautiful, and I’ve seen His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche spinning the globe shaped prayer wheels. Where did the idea come from? Was it difficult to implement due to shape?

    “One day, we had a friend contact us and asked us to make him a spherical handheld prayer wheel to offer his teacher. He asked for a globe to be painted on the sphere. This made so much sense! It was the most perfect idea for our world peace prayer wheels! Ayelet took her time to learn how to draw the globe on the sphere and when she was ready for it, we made him his very first globe prayer wheel. After that we had so many requests for these prayer wheels! One day we had a request from Rinpoche who wanted one for himself. We were so humbled… H.E. Garchen Rinpoche wants a world peace prayer wheel with the globe on the sphere! Wow…. Of course, we immediately made one for him and shipped it to him. Rinpoche was very happy with it! We also crafted a tabletop one like that and offered it to the institute and it resides in their dining hall for all to spin.”

    World Peace tabletop version prayer wheel version:

     

     

    Hand-painted artwork on prayer wheels

    Question: Ayelet does such intricate and beautiful detailed work on the prayer wheels. Could you describe the process, inspiration and how long it takes to lovingly craft the details?

    Without a doubt, Ayelet is the “real” artist between us both! She has such talented hands and creative mind… I can only look at her work and feel overwhelmed…

    She has been an artist since childhood and so the prayer wheel allows her to put her artistic talent into action, giving our prayer wheels this unique touch.

    She is a master of pyrography (wood burning technique) and so she first burns all the artwork on to the prayer wheels and then uses acrylic paint to finish her work.

    Her craft is what makes our prayer wheels so different because — especially today, there are now some other woodturners out there who make wooden prayer wheels — but they do not have Ayelet!

    She is the real reason our prayer wheels look so amazing and pleasing to the eye. Thanks to her, our customers can request so many different artworks on their prayer wheels. That is why most of our work is custom made, a one-of-a-kind artwork prayer wheel. We feel very blessed to be able to provide this service to the world!

     Ayelet finishing the art on the Globe Prayer Wheel from  Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

    It takes her a few days of very concentrated work to accomplish what she has been requested by the customer.

    I love the fact that we both bring our own talent to this trade, I craft the woodwork and Ayelet puts her magic touch on to it, what comes out are such stunning works of art! We both feel so blessed to have found a trade that puts in it both of our talents put together!

    Who knows for how long we will be able to keep doing this, but so far, we have made and shipped over 2400+ prayer wheels out to the world… so more than we have expected to do when we started on this prayer wheel journey! What a blessing… all thanks to H.E. Garchen Rinpoche and his loving kindness. We owe him everything…”

    Table top prayer wheels

    Question: How popular are the table top wheels? You have quite a few with unique looks — based on spiritual path.

    “When we started to craft prayer wheels for other faiths, I felt that most people would rather have a tabletop than a hand-held prayer wheel.

    I felt that I need to come up with a tabletop prayer wheel design that would differ from the classic tabletop prayer wheel design we make for our Buddhist tabletop prayer wheels. This thought sent me on a “design journey” that took many twists and turns when finally, I came up with the “egg” design. A base, an egg-shaped drum that spins and a finial top.

    It also took some time to figure out the right way to make these prayer wheels technically, but when I was finally done, these amazing-looking prayer wheels came to life, and a whole new prayer wheel design was born.  Most of our work is handheld prayer wheels, but we get some requests for tabletops too.”

    Garchen Rinpoche’s prayer wheel

    Question: At teachings you see His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche nearly always with a Prayer Wheel in Hand. He also inspired a specific design in your portfolio, which is quite lovely. (I’ll embed one of Garchen Rinpoche’s Prayer Wheel teachings in our interview). Can you tell us about the special Garchen Rinpoche prayer wheel?

    “Rinpoche came up with his own prayer wheel design a few years ago and asked another prayer wheel maker to make these specific prayer wheels for him and his students. We felt it is not ours to craft…  We respect our fellow craftsman to the trade, and felt like this was not asked of us so we can not “copy” this design even though we had requests for it over the years.

    Garchen Rinpoche’s prayer wheel design available from Holy Land Prayer Wheels:

     

     

    Every time a customer requested that we craft such a prayer wheel, we turned them over to the other prayer wheel maker so he can craft them their prayer wheel of choice. At a certain point in time, we got more and more requests for this prayer wheel design and our customers insisted that we craft it for them so I contacted both our brother in the trade, who was crafting these prayer wheels, and Rinpoche too, asking for their advice on what to do.

    The other prayer wheel maker said that this is not his design and if we want to, we can craft it for our customers, after all, this is for the benefit of all beings!…

    Rinpoche told us that if we did craft this specific prayer wheel design it will be very beneficial to our customers and us as well along with all beings. So, after a long time of crafting prayer wheels in our own designs, we started to offer this H.E. Garchen Rinpoche’s prayer wheel design to our customers too. It is very popular and now we started to craft this design with Ayelet’s artwork added to them! So, you can have a prayer wheel made in this design, but add some artwork to it too and our customers love it!”

    A custom version of His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche Wheel by Holy Land Prayer Wheels with mantras and lotus flowers painted by Ayelet!:


    Contacting Holy Land Prayer Wheels

    Previous Stories on Dharma Wheels in Buddha Weekly

     

    NOTES

    [1] Buddha on Dharma Prayer Wheels: “defilements will be purified and the face of the deity will appear”; Guru Rinpoche: you will “be able to attain mystic powers…” feature>>

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    Lee Kane

    Author | Buddha Weekly

    Lee Kane is the editor of Buddha Weekly, since 2007. His main focuses as a writer are mindfulness techniques, meditation, Dharma and Sutra commentaries, Buddhist practices, international perspectives and traditions, Vajrayana, Mahayana, Zen. He also covers various events.
    Lee also contributes as a writer to various other online magazines and blogs.

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