For the past several weeks I have been using a twenty-seven (27) Dark Bodhi Seed Hand Mala with Counters made by Shakya Design. In Pure Land Buddhism, twenty-seven (27) beads rosaries are pretty common while many Chinese rosaries have only eighteen (18) beads; one for each of the eighteen (18) Lohans.
The Lohans referenced are not related in any way to Lindsay. Rather, these Lohans are otherwise known as Arahats. Supposedly, they are those really cool dudes who have followed the Noble Eightfold Path and have reached Nirvana. Speculation has it that these Lohans bring great or serene energy into the home. Do I buy into all of that? Nah! It’s a great story and I enjoy the history, but the serenity my home receives is from the peace I bring. The meditation and peace I receive is directly from my meditation and prayer.
Malas are basically a prayer bead. Their basic function is to allow one to think about the meaning of the mantra as it is chanted. Each time the mantra is repeated, the fingers move to the next bead. This type of prayer bead is very similar to the Catholic Rosary. During my Catholic days, few in the pew really understood the importance of a string of Catholic rosary beads. Similar to the Buddhist Mala, a Catholic parishioner’s rosary beads are an aid to prayer and penance. From my understanding, all Catholic rosaries have the same number of beads worldwide. Just like the mala, the beads are ticked off as the prayers are said. I have heard one could achieve the same thing holding a bag of marbles, M&M’s or any other item that could be counted.
Some rosary beads are considered heirlooms. These heirlooms are handed down from generation to generation. As far as I know, my grandmother left no such heirloom. Some people make rosary collection a hobby. As for me, my Mala holds no such significance and is nothing more than a counter, a place holder to keep me on track during my meditative prayers.
Before purchasing the mala, my research indicated some Buddhist malas have one-hundred eight (108) beads, representing the one-hundred eight (108) human passions. This number also ensures the worshipper repeats the sacred mantra at least one-hundred (100) times, with extra beads allowing for any omissions made during prayer. Personally, I believe this is insane.
Meditation, like prayer, is a time for meditation or prayer, not for counting the ticks of beads. And I am seriously not trying to offend any single religion or person when I say that if one has to go through all one-hundred eight (108) human passions, then I am not sure meditation is going to help all of that. I cannot imagine how many hours of prayer one-hundred eight (108) human passions would take, but it seems like a lot. But that’s my opinion.
Lastly, I do not get caught up in whether my right or left hand holds the mala. I tend to believe one can over think this. You can think about left and think about right, until nothing is left and nothing is right. So use the mala as place holder, something to keep you on track. Enjoy the beauty and joy feel of the mala. I love the way my mala feels, its beauty is wonderful.