Q: Master Lu, what should we be aware of when we use Buddhist prayer beads while reciting sutras or mantras?
- Prayer beads are Dharma instruments. Like all Dharma instruments, you must use them appropriately, and you should not misuse or misplace them. If you are unable to protect these Dharma instruments or use them mindfully, it would be better not to use them at all as it would be a form of disrespect towards Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
- It is best to choose prayer beads that are made of wood, preferably sandalwood. The colour should not be too dark.
- A lay practitioner must not wear a strand of long prayer beads around the neck, as they are not eligible to do so. It is only suitable for Buddhist monks and nuns with over ten years of cultivation to wear the beads around the neck.
- Hold your prayer beads in your left hand, use your right thumb to count each bead, pulling it to the right as you finish reciting your sutra or mantra. Meanwhile, visualise the image of the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva while performing recitations.
- It is best not to hold the prayer beads with only one hand. Use both hands as instructed above.
- You can also use an electronic counter or your fingers to count the number of times a mantra or sutra is recited. You can record it on a piece of paper, too. Visualise the image of the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva while performing recitations.
- A strand of 108 prayer beads made be worn around the neck is best not to be worn around your wrist.