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Wrist Malas worn by Non-buddhists

I am new to this site and relatively new to Buddhism, though many of the ideas of Buddhism have been in my life for a long time. I really appreciate the discussions that go on here and it gives me quite a bit of food for thought.

One of my very good friends is a pure land Buddhist and we recently had a long lunch where we talked about my potential of "taking refuge" and of Buddhism in general. Then she popped a question on me--how do I feel about non-Buddhist people wearing malas/juzu as jewelery? We both decided it does bother us a bit, it would be like if we decided to start wearing rosaries as decorative jewelry, which would certainly be seen as profane by most practicing Catholics.

Are we making too much of this? I am just curious of others insights on this.

Comments

  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    It's just a thing. Things (like all things) are impermanent, and only have power if we give it to them. If it's just a piece of decoration, then that's all it is. Unless you make it something else.
  • ...they are just counting beads, not magical items.
  • Meditation is not just a buddhist thing. Malas assist in meditation not the 4 Noble Truths.
  • YishaiYishai Veteran
    Also, mala/prayer beads are used in several religions
  • I don't use mala beads
  • TakuanTakuan Veteran
    Islam has something very similar. It consists of 99 beads, which each represent an attribute of God.
  • It's just a thing, a material object. It has no inherent value or meaning other than what a person ascibes to it. What you think is a mala may have only been intended in its making as a piece of jewelry.
  • edited June 2011
    Don't worry, Buddha wouldn't be too concern about mala either. Practice is more important.
  • Are we making too much of this? I am just curious of others insights on this.
    I wear one and have since I started the path.

    In my opinion anyone who wears one who is not a Buddhist is breaking all of the precepts and should be forced to remove the mala, at whatver cost... only joking:p Yes, I think you are making too much of it; one man's mala is another man's bone bracelet and/or necklace.

    As a general rule of thumb, do you really think the Buddha would be bothered...
  • YishaiYishai Veteran
    edited June 2011
    When I'm not at work, but out and about, I wear a wrist mala. I do not do mantra recitations, but the mala is there as a reminder for me to be skillful in thought and action and to be mindful. Maybe some Buddhist will see my mala, and that's one Buddhist I would've never met.
  • - Things [...] only have power if we give it to them.
    - they are just counting beads, not magical items
    - Meditation is not just a buddhist thing. Malas assist in meditation
    - Don't worry, Buddha wouldn't be too concern about mala either
    - the mala is there as a reminder for me to be skillful in thought and action and to be mindful

    Excellent responses. Sums up my thoughts/feelings as well.
  • (...) Maybe some Buddhist will see my mala, and that's one Buddhist I would've never met.
    that's one of the reasons why I use a mala.
  • I don't think it's a big deal. It's just beads :)
  • aMattaMatt Veteran
    edited June 2011
    Its good that its a big deal to you, it shows you where you have attached buddhism to a thing. A place to let go, become more free.

    I love seeing mala on people, no matter what their belief. Some consider them powerful on their own, but they're just a tool to me, like a hammer.
  • auraaura Veteran
    Some people wear flowers
    but they have never grown a garden
    but flowers are beautiful.

    Some people wear malas
    but they have never meditated
    but malas are beautiful.

    Wear a flower long enough...
    and one can become inspired to grow a garden!
    Wear a mala long enough...
    and one can become inspired to meditate!
    It is from tiny seeds indeed...
    that the most beautiful gardens grow!

    A mala is not a gang flag denoting "one of us"
    that must never be worn by "one of them."
    There is no "them."
    There is no "us."
    A mala is a string of the seeds of a great tree
    that shelters all!

  • Often people wear malas as bracelets or necklaces just for decorative purposes, especially if they're fashionably trendy at the time.

    Its no big deal - they're just beads...
  • Wear a mala long enough...
    and one can become inspired to meditate!
    It is from tiny seeds indeed...
    that the most beautiful gardens grow!
    That is a wonderful piece of prose @aura! Did you just come up with that? Such a lovely poem and it speaks the truth. I agree with this wholeheartedly :)

  • auraaura Veteran

    That is a wonderful piece of prose @aura! Did you just come up with that? Such a lovely poem and it speaks the truth. I agree with this wholeheartedly :)
    Yes, I was inspired by the mala I inherited from an old friend. It is a string of Bodhi seeds, from the Bodhi tree at Bodhigaya, from a pilgrimage. I was told that they are authentic Bodhi seeds because each one has a little "eye" in it from where it was attached to the tree... and so they each have a little "eye" in them shaped just exactly like an eys... and they do indeed look like so many little eyes! It is very inspiring.

  • AmeliaAmelia Veteran
    One of my very good friends is a pure land Buddhist and we recently had a long lunch where we talked about my potential of "taking refuge" and of Buddhism in general. Then she popped a question on me--how do I feel about non-Buddhist people wearing malas/juzu as jewelery? We both decided it does bother us a bit, it would be like if we decided to start wearing rosaries as decorative jewelry, which would certainly be seen as profane by most practicing Catholics.
    But does it really matter what people are and aren't wearing? Is it really worth the time it takes to trouble your mind for an opinion about it?
    ...they are just counting beads, not magical items.
    Exactly. Unless you see it differently, which I would totally respect... and then drop the next moment.

    I have a mala with 108 beads. What is the traditional number of beads on a Buddhist mala? Just curious. I know there are several types, and would like to make some.
  • @aura Wow that is amazing! I hope this auspicious mala brings you many blessings and helps you in your practice :)

    @Amelia 108 beads is a standard amount for a Buddhist mala. The shorter wrist malas often have 20, but this can vary depending on the bead size.
  • When I encounter someone wearing a wrist mala, I see it as an opportunity to teach them a little bit about Buddhism.
    :)
  • Here's an interesting read as to why 108 beads: http://destinationom.com/why108beads/
  • 108 is the magical buddhist number; you must draw the 108 sigils after reciting the 108 mantras, after counting 108 beads.

    (kidding of course)
  • I have worn a wrist mala for years. I do not use it often in my practice but I wear it because it reminds me to remain compassionate and to follow the 8 fold path.

    If the wearing of a mala can bring peace to anyone, including a non-buddhist, I see this as a positive thing.

    Namaste

  • I wear a mala on my left wrist to keep me mindful - so far I have stopped biting my nails (a life-long habit) & swear far less because of the mala. :)
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