Wednesday, November 17, 2010
About Malas and Mantras
A customer asked me what books to read about malas.
I haven't seen any that I'd send someone to about malas. If you read about mantras in Sogyal Rinpoche's book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, I think that helps.
The books I recommend are about mindfulness, compassion, and meditation.
I especially like the books by the Dalai Lama, Chagdud Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse, Thich Nhat Hahn, and Chogyam Trungpa.
A lot of Hindu books may talk about mantras. In Buddhism they accompany practices, but they aren't the main focus. So if you read about the practices of Avalokiteshvara, it may speak about the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. The same with writings about Tara, Guru Rinpoche, and all of the other Tibetan practices.
The way I was taught (it's different in different disciplines), is that you hold the mala in your left hand, close to your heart, and with the thumb and pointer finger you pull the bead towards you. When you get to the three-holed guru bead (or large bead, in your wrist mala), you turn around and go the other direction. You don't say a mantra on the guru bead.
It's a way of calming the mind and invoking the qualities of the deity in that particular practice. These qualities are Love, Compassion, Wisdom, and things like that. You focus loosely on the mantra, relax, and let the mantra flow quietly. Or out loud, it doesn't matter. You can keep track of how many you say in a little book or by hanging mala counters on your mala.
Here's the wiki article.
There are good links there.
And here's something I wrote about blessing and using a mala.
Hope this helps, it's not intended to be advice or overwhelming.