Sunday, May 21, 2006

Flash memory a threat to digital Tibetan Prayer Wheels

Tibetan prayer wheels contain the "om mani padme hum" written many times on scrolls so that they can be turned to "pray" the prayer. Saying the prayer over and over again invokes the blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. Spinning the written copy is supposed to have the same effect, the more copies the better.

Some wheels are spun by hand, while others are mechanical or are driven by water. I haven't found any examples of the mantra put onto car wheels, though that seems to be an obvious application. If any wheel will work, how about windmills, generators or gears in mechanical devices.

A while ago, the digerati suggested using animated .gifs of the prayer wheel or digital copies of the mantra spinning around on your computer's hard drive. One example has trillions of copies of the mantra on DVD's placed inside the wheel to spins when it spins. (.pdf brochure) This idea has been vetted at the highest levels of Tibetan Buddhism.
"His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, has said that having the mantra on your computer works the same as a traditional Mani wheel. As the digital image spins around on your hard drive, it sends the peaceful prayer of compassion to all directions and purifies the area."
I am concerned about the recent increase in the use of flash memory for storage instead of hard drives. On flash memory those files just sit there, they don't spin at all. This could quell the nascent prayer wheel hard drive movement. What will this do for the mantra? We might actually have to perform some concrete action to demonstrate our faith.

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(noticed in the sidebar of Exploding Aardvark)

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