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Something About Mala

Filed under: Daily Life — folkcat at 10:39 am on Friday, June 22, 2007

Leesa gently reminded me in a comment that not everyone may know what a mala is. Thank you, Leesa – I really should have explained!

A mala is a type of prayer beads, specifically as used in Buddhism. Those from a Christian or Catholic background will be more familiar with rosary beads. The principle is the same – the beads help you to count as you pray. The supplicant is freed from having to think about the numbers by using their fingers to advance through the beads, and can instead focus on the meaning and purpose of their prayer.

So why would Folkcat be in need of a mala?

I am not what most people would consider a conventionally religious person. I do not often pray in groups. I do not attend a church or temple. If pressed, I usually label my “religion” as “homebrew”. By which I mean that I take what spiritual ideas, ideals, and practices make sense to me, and apply them in a way that feels right for my life.

Probably more of those elements in my homebrew religion come from Buddhism or Paganism than anywhere else. I have not extensively studied either, though I have many friends who practice some form of one or the other – or both.

Buddhism has an enduring attraction to me, though I doubt I could ever adopt the most stringent forms of it. (A truly vegetarian existence, for instance, would be very difficult for me.) I think my connection to Buddhism really began back in 1999, when I was laying in bed, in pain, after an accident which totalled our car, and cracked my hip socket.

There were times when the pain was so bad that even the meds didn’t touch it. I needed a way to somehow just coast through it. A little while before the accident, I had read in a magazine for retailers in the new age field a mantra known as the Heart Sutra.

I found myself at the bad moments laying there in the bed, reciting the Heart Sutra over and over…

gate, gate, para gate, parasam gate, bodhi svaha.

(The word “gate” is pronounced as “gah-tay”.)

Over and over, again and again. And I made it through.

One translation I’ve found may give you a sense of how appropriate it was for the circumstances:

“Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha.”

So when the beads called to me yesterday, demanding to be made into a mala, it seemed quite reasonable, even though I haven’t made a practice of chanting a mantra on any regular basis. It feels right to wear them, and I may begin to think, now and then, of taking a moment and actually chanting my favored mantra again.

This would be a good thing. The last few weeks have felt like the world is changing on me and Gryphon with the speed of chaos. Perhaps my spiritual guides decided it was time I have a calming focus at hand.

I’m inclined to think they’re onto something here.

Addendum about the stones in my mala:

With the help of my Google-fu, I have remembered what the yellowish dogbone beads are – aragonite. Among the many metaphysical properties of aragonite is an ability to increase the power of prayers. How appropriate! Combined with the black tourmaline, which dispels negative energy, I seem to have made a particularly powerful mala, well suited for my needs at this time.

See – always trust the voices!

4 Comments

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Comment by Carol

June 22, 2007 @ 11:22 am

Like rosary beads! Okay, I get it. I grew up sort of Catholic. My folks sent me to a catholic high school. One of the courses I had to take was comparative religions. It was actually quite interesting. It’s been a while, but I seem to remember Hinudism as being the most interesting. Mostly because (if I remember rightly) they felt that any and all paths to God were valid. which makes all of us Hindus. Kinda funny.

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Comment by Leesa

June 22, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post that description of a ‘mala’. Makes me appreciate what you made, and how eerily appropriately it all came together, all the more!! Very cool.

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Comment by Valerie in San Diego

June 27, 2007 @ 1:15 am

I really like your mala (I used to use one myself to help me with a type of meditation) and it seems very appropriate. And beautiful to boot!

888

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August 14, 2007 @ 9:43 am

[…] Leesa gently reminded me in a comment that not everyone may know what a mala is. Thank you, Leesa – I really should have explained! A mala is a type of prayer beads, specifically as used in Buddhism. Those from a Christian or Catholic background will be more familiar with rosary beads source: Something About Mala, Crafting Jen […]

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