The Prayer Wheel: A story of Sanghas

Just before Dhagpo, like the rest of France, entered into a new lockdown, we were fortunate to receive the large prayer wheel that will stand in the pavilion of the meditation garden.

Here is its story that stretches across Europe and two communities striving to practice and make accessible the teachings of the Buddha according to the Karma Kagyu tradition.

    Click on the photos to read the captions

Several years back, Lama Jigme Rinpoche had admired the prayer wheels made by the Diamond Way sangha, which he had seen in several of their European centres, notably Karma Guen in southern Spain. When conceiving the meditation garden, Lama Jigme Rinpoche naturally thought of this community to make the large prayer wheel that he wished to place in the garden. This marked the start of the European prayer wheel’s adventure.

The design phase required several months of exchange between Bernhard, our Diamond Way contact in Austria and the Dhagpo team. The specificity of these wheels is that they are in stainless steel and require high-precision technical machining. Lama Jigme Rinpoche’s wish was for the wheel to be at least one meter in diameter and several high. The Diamond Way teams had never produced such a large one.

Once the technical design challenges were solved, the building phase was ready to start. It took place in Wojtek’s specialized factory (one of our Diamond Way correspondents on this project) in Poland, together with Bernhard and Przemek. The main cylinder was manufactured there as well as the central axis. The different bases and the spindle on which the wheel is positioned and rotates were made in another factory in Austria. The main cylinder was then covered with a thick blue film hollowed out according to the patterns and mantras that were to be engraved on it by a sandblasting process.

Alongside this process, the sacred substances to be contained in the wheel were made. Just as a stupa, a prayer wheel harbours mantra rolls that render it effective as a support for practice carrying the blessings of the three jewels.

The confection of the huge mantra rolls took place in the Diamond Way centre in Graz, Austria. The teams were very ingenious in finding the technical means to make such voluminous rolls.

They inserted them in the prayer wheel in the factory (sacred substances will be included once at Dhagpo). The prayer wheel was then sealed, protected and placed in a safety case for its transport to Dhagpo.

After more than 24 hours of travel by road across Europe, the three members of the Diamond Way team reached their destination with the wheel. Weighing over two tons, its transport and handling were a delicate affair. A telescopic forklift was required to bring the case containing the wheel as close as possible to Lama Pourtsela’s house.

The case was then opened and the wheel positioned on its base after difficult and delicate manipulations. The Dhagpo and Diamond Way teams worked together from morning late into the night to place the prayer wheel in the spot foreseen.



The wheel now stands on its granite base. It cannot be viewed yet by the public as a temporary frame has to be built to secure it. It is indeed foreseen that the frame of the pavilion will support the central axis of the prayer wheel. This frame is being finished in carpenters’ workshops near Dhagpo and should soon be delivered.

Dharma projects created at Dhagpo always gather dozens, hundreds or thousands of people, each participating in their own way. Be it by making wishes, a personal donation or building a support for practice that crosses Europe for another Dharma community, installing it at final destination and coming (when this will be possible again) to turn it, the common denominator for each one of these persons, however they were involved, is the same: to work towards eliminating the veils that obscure the mind so that its innate qualities may be fully revealed.

So the real or the closest meaning of ‘Sangha’ is not based on groupism at all.
Instead, ‘Sangha’ is a way to let go consciously.
It’s almost like surrendering – but rather than submitting without choice, we let go consciously.
That’s a virtue, I think.
That’s merit.

Thaye Dorje,
His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa

in My Thought on… Sangha and Togetherness.

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