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According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, spinning a prayer wheel is just as effective as reciting the sacred texts aloud. This belief derives from the Buddhist belief in the power of sound and the formulas to which deities are subject. For many Buddhists, the prayer wheel also represents the Wheel of the Law (or Dharma) set in motion by the Buddha.
The prayer wheel is also useful for illiterate members of the lay Buddhist community, since they can "read" the prayers by turning the wheel.The prayer wheel lineage was brought to Tibet by the renowned eight century Indian Buddhist teacher Padmasambhava, and later practiced by the great Indian tantric Buddhist masters Tilopa and Naropa. Prayer wheels are usually filled with the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of great compassion. OM MANI PADME HUM. So much of the spiritual power of the prayer wheel derives from the power of this sacred mantra that by connecting with the energy of the prayer wheel one is connecting with an outer manifestation of unlimited enlightened compassion, and is awakening one’s own highest potential - one’s Buddha nature.