by Deborah King
Do you have trouble meditating? Would your mind rather work on your to-do list than plunge deeper into consciousness? Do old rock ‘n’ roll songs in your head drown out your mantra? Is it hard for you to sit still, even for twenty minutes?
The ancient seers of India understood these types of problems, and thousands of years ago (around the 8th century B.C.E.) they began to use beads to help them during meditation. The use of these prayer beads, called japa malas, spread to other cultures and religions besides Hinduism and Buddhism. More than two-thirds of the world use prayer beads, rosary beads, or worry beads today, to aid in their spiritual practices. We could certainly stand some help in this department too!
I know that when I was growing up as a devout Catholic, my rosary beads stayed by my side as I prayed to Mother Mary, one of the more recent incarnations of the Divine Feminine. And as a young adult, when I was initiated as a meditation teacher, the guru gave me a japa mala that he had blessed. So I’ve always had a strong connection to prayer beads.
In Sanskrit, mala means garland. Just like the lei, the garland of flowers that is placed around the neck of a visitor to Hawaii as a token of affection, 108 mala beads make up a garland that reminds you of your spiritual essence. Japa means repetition. Here’s a cool little fact: When the Roman Empire was trading with India, they mistook the word japa for jap, the Latin word for “rose.” So when these prayer beads came to be used in Rome, they were called rosarium, or rosary in English.
What Can You Do With A Mala?
For many spiritual aspirants, simply wearing a mala around your neck or having them nearby on an altar or table when you meditate will help keep you connected to a meditative state. That means less fidgeting and fewer mind distractions—always a good thing! Wearing it will also keep you more connected to your inner Guides. You can even wear your mala when you go out to surround yourself with an aura of protection. Hang a mala—in your car, on your computer, or over the kitchen sink—anywhere you need a reminder that you are a spiritual person.
Some, like the Tibetan Buddhists, use malas to help them keep track of the thousands or hundreds of thousands of times they must repeat their mantra. Now, with the meditation I teach, that isn’t necessary since I give you just one sacred seed sound that is specifically chosen for you.
Incidentally, I don’t want you holding anything in your hands while you are meditating as it’s critical that the higher level energies be able to access special chakras in your hands and fingers during meditation. More on that in an article coming here soon!
Why Are Malas Made Of 108 Beads?
Going back to the ancient Vedic culture, their mathematicians knew that 108 was the number of existence. In the yogic tradition, there are 108 Upanishads (the sacred texts), 108 sacred sites throughout India, and 108 marma points, which are the sacred sites of the body. There were 108 gopis dancing with Krishna in Vrindavan. This number is so engrained in the Indian consciousness that 108 is the telephone number for emergencies, like 911 in the U.S. In the Jewish tradition, 108 is a multiple of 18, which is the number connected to the Hebrew word chai, meaning “life, or alive.” And in Islam, the number 108 refers to God.
Additionally, there are 108 lines of energy that converge to form the heart chakra, with one of those lines leading to the crown chakra and self-realization. And on a larger scale, the Sun’s diameter is 108 times that of the diameter of the Earth, while the Sun to Earth distance is 108 times the Sun’s diameter. So everywhere you turn, there’s 108!
What Beads Are Used For Malas?
Different types of beads are used to heighten certain qualities of your character. Some of my favorites include rudraksha beads, which increase clarity and calm down the central nervous system, helping to keep the mind quiet and free of any negativity.
If are interested to learn how to use mala beads, click here for more info https://deborahking.com/how-to-use-mala-beads/. I hope you’ll join me in experiencing the mala bead’s beauty and the benefits they can bring to your meditation practice and to your life!
Mind, heart, body, soul…yet we are all essentially one.
Created in the image and likeness of God…
Brothers and sisters – we are interrelated.
They call it interconnected.
I sense we are evolving.
I sometimes wonder if God is evolving with us?
“In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Praise be to the Lord of the Universe
who has created us and
made us into tribes and nations,
that we may know each other,
not that we may despise each other.
If the enemy incline towards peace,
do thou also incline towards peace,
and trust in God, for the Lord
is the one that heareth and knoweth all things.
And the servants of God, Most Gracious
are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them,
we say “PEACE.” – A Muslim Prayer for Peace
This morning I received a post quoting passages from the the Islamic Koran referring to the violent crushing of enemies. I was told that Islam is a religion of violence.
I offer blessings of hope, compassion and forgiveness to the writer.
I know that I can open the Jewish and Christian Bible and search for similar passages beseeching the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob to take my side, seek revenge with me, send plagues or insects or even put terror into the hearts of my enemies. I can also tell the story of Jesus throwing a temper tantrum in the Temple of Jerusalem in the face of the money changers.
Today, I remind myself that using any religions’ sacred texts to justify my fear, ignorance or intolerance…is wrong.
I recommit to coexistence. Blessings! Shalom! Namaste!
I’ve been thinking, feeling and praying “coexistence” these most recent days…my personal response to so much ignorance, fear and hate surrounding me. Faithful followers, please pray for peace… pray for peace that MUST begin with each and every one of us! Politicians do not make peace… we do.
I had the opportunity last evening to attend the opening of the Annual Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival. Eleven award-winning films over two weeks; a warm welcoming Jewish community of fellowship and acceptance even though I am not Jewish and complimentary tickets from new friends…it doesn’t take much to keep this interfaith minister happy. I am honored and thrilled to participate and listen to the kind of thoughtful discussion that most definitely makes film festivals excellent adventures.
The opening film viewed by more than 300 in attendance was Jerusalem, a National Geographic Entertainment move filmed in 3D IMAX.
I guess I knew this going into the theater… but like so much of learning… I didn’t fully realize its implications.
So here’s the deal: Jerusalem is one of the world’s oldest and most enigmatic cities. Literally, this tiny place is geographically situated at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and The East. It’s been been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over more than 5,000 years. It’s enduring will to live and its message of hope is extraordinary. Other than having its own pure source of underground water in a barren desert, what keeps this place alive?
Literally within the confines of just 0.9 square kilometers (0.35 sq mi), the Old City thrives within the bustling modern city of Jerusalem. Indeed, it’s an absolutely central city to all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jerusalem surrounds hugely important religious sites: the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for Christians.
Added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1981, traditionally, the Old City is roughly divided into four uneven quarters: the Muslim Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter and the Armenian Quarter. Largest populations are found in the Islamic and Christian quarters – all surrounded by Jews.
What’s so extraordinary is that within the City of Jerusalem three separate and distinct religious cultures with complicated and volatile histories coexist.
From the film’s commentary:
“It is easy to understand why Jerusalem has so often been the site of armed conflicts over the centuries. Temples have been torn down only to be rebuilt as pagan shrines or churches. Churches have been burnt down. Mosques have been converted into churches. There have been 118 conflicts in and for Jerusalem over the past 4,000 years. Jerusalem has been conquered 44 times. It has been besieged 23 times, completely destroyed twice and has seen 11 transfers from one religion to another. It has only changed hands peacefully twice.
Jews, Christians, and Muslims have plenty to be angry about. We could hold grudges across the centuries. Yet, our calling is toward love, to be neighbors. Muslim rulers like Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent permitted worship of all religions in Jerusalem. They were good neighbors. The city has seen periods of reigns marked by intolerance and injustice followed by periods of peace and prosperity. Diversity has distinguished Jerusalem across the centuries and even today. The four major quarters of the Old City — Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Armenian — reflect the rich history and the deep love that each community feels for Jerusalem.”
The film strengthen my commitment to hope, (the fundamental mission of my ministry) and my resolve to live and study in Jerusalem soon. I have much to learn there.
Jerusalem is a stunningly beautiful film that delivers a profound message of religious tolerance and coexistence. Consider taking the opportunity to see it.
What is the meaning of life in the spirit of interfaith tolerance and acceptance?
The good news is that if you choose to follow a religious path along your personal spiritual journey, you have many choices. While there is a significant difference between religion and spirituality, religious ways are hugely varied and many:
Aboriginal/Native religions are more than 60,000 years old. Believers celebrate co-creator male and female gods/goddesses that are intimately the source of all of nature and indivisible from daily living. As a pantheistic religion, they believe landscape features may be the embodiment of deities themselves. There are 3 categories of gods/goddesses: creator, ancestral and totemic. Life’s purpose is to honor the gods and live honorably in communion with nature.
Baha’i faith emphasizes the unity of humanity. The purpose of life is focused on spiritual growth and service to humanity. We are intrinsically eternal spiritual beings. Life in this material world provides abundant opportunities to grow and develop our divine qualities and virtues. Baha’i grew from Islam with Baha’u’llah as its primary prophet with Manifestation of God demonstrated through a series of prophets.
Buddhism promotes training the mind to end conflict and suffering through meditation, non-attachment, the eight-fold path of right-living and the practice of compassion toward all beings. Life is a process that can ultimately result in enlightenment and the state of Nirvana. Nirvana is freedom from both suffering and re-becoming within the cycle of Karma.
Christians believe “God made me to show his goodness and to make me happy with him in Heaven.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was born, lived among us and died to redeem us. He rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven. Jesus fulfilled the Jewish Messiah prophecies and established a new law: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The reward is eternal life in Heaven. We are sinners and need grace to redeem us. God spoke to his people through Jesus.
Christian Science, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, teaches that salvation is “Life, Truth and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness and death destroyed.” Heaven is not a place but a state of mind in which all manifestations are harmonious and immortal. All healing is a spiritual condition that originates in the mind.
Confucianism, dating back to 479 BC in China, teaches the purpose of life is to fulfill your role in society with propriety, honor and loyalty.
Hare Krishna has its roots in a 15th century Hindu movement. Krishna is considered the supreme Hindu God. Salvation is attained by a return to Godhead through Krishna Consciousness. Believers chant, dance, favor celibacy, live in monastic vegetarian communities and evangelize daily.
Hindus believe the meaning of life is to realize the fundamental truth about ourselves – we are all perfect children of God. We’re in bondage to ignorance and illusion. We can escape. Atman (spirit,soul) is the person’s eternal and true self. Spiritual growth happens across many lifetimes and goals should match the state of development of the individual. There are four goals to living: Kāma (wish, desire, love and sensual pleasure); Artha (wealth, prosperity, glory); Dharma (righteousness, duty, morality, virtue, ethics, ahimsa [non-violence] and satya [truth]); and Moksha (liberation from Saṃsāra, the cycle of reincarnation).
Islam teaches life’s objective is to worship the creator Allah by submitting to his will and abiding by all rules revealed in the Quran and the Tradition of the Prophet. Earthly life is merely a test, determining one’s afterlife, either in Paradise or Hell. God spoke to his people through the prophet Mohammad.
Jains believe in the importance of self-discipline following the ascetic teachings of Jina, a human achieves enlightenment (perfect knowledge). Jainism divides the universe into living and non-living beings. Only when the living become attached to the non-living does suffering result. Therefore, happiness is the result of self-conquest and freedom from external objects. The meaning of life is to learn to use the physical body to achieve self-realization and bliss.
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in one God (no Trinity) with Christ being the first creation of God. The Holy Spirit is a divine force. Salvation comes from belief in Christ and obeying Jehovah’s rules. The end of the world is immanent. Their is the promise of heaven for 144,000 chosen believers… all other faithful believers will live out eternity on a new Earth. Blood transfusions, celebration of holidays and religious images are forbidden. Believers are expected to evangelize.
Judaism teaches the meaning of life is to live in harmony with God by embodying the ideals, values and rules of the Torah – the written instruction/law within the Jewish sacred texts. Yahweh has a covenant with his chosen people. He created humans to be stewards of his creation. God spoke to his people through his tribal/religious leaders and prophets.
Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) believe we existed before earthly life and are called to return to God by having faith, following his commandments, doing good works and evangelism. We are spirit children of God, the Father with unique potential to progress to become just like Him. We were given the choice to come to Earth (a crucial stage in our spiritual development). Our mortal body and freedom of choice is the ideal environment to learn, grow and follow the rules to return to Paradise. God spoke to his people through Joseph Smith and the LDS prophets.
New Thought is a religious movement originating in the USA with roots from Sweden during the 19th Century. Many follow the original teachings of Phineas Quimby. The movement comprises 3 major religious organizations: Religious Science, Unity Church and Church of Divine Science. Sometimes known as “Higher Thought”, teachings promote God as supreme, universal, everlasting Infinite Intelligence. Spirit is the totality of everything, humans have a divine identity and divine thought, by definition is a powerful force for good. Illness originates in the mind. “Right thinking” has a healing effect. All are called to love unconditionally by way of positive thinking, the laws of attraction, creative visualization and belief in personal power. Some New Age sects are based on New Thought beliefs.
Seventh Day Adventists believe in one creator God of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Second Coming of Jesus is imminent. Our purpose is to have faith in Jesus and follow his teachings fervently with strong emphasis on a healthy lifestyle.
Sikhs believe in devotion and remembrance of one God – Ik Onkar, Nam. Founded by Guru Nanak Dev, “Sikh” means student. Followers are expected to live forever learning. Followers are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh Gurus, enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture – the Gurū Granth Sāhib. Life’s purpose is to overcome the self, align with the will of God and become a “saint soldier” for the good of all.
Taoists believe in pantheism – the Tao pervades all through Ying/Yang opposites that strive for unity. All sentient beings are returning to the primordial to rejoin with the Oneness of the Universe. The path is self-cultivation and self-realization. The purpose of life is inner harmony, peace and longevity achieved by living in accordance with the Tao. All originates from Tao. We’re tasked to realize the temporal nature of existence. “Only introspection can then help us to find our innermost reasons for living … the simple answer is here within ourselves.”
Unification Church, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon in South Korea teaches that our purpose in life is to find true love and create world peace. True love and the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth will be restored by “true families.”
Unitarian Universalism is a pluralistic religion. Believers are free to believe in one God, many gods or no God. The purpose of life is spiritual health or wholeness. Believers seek inner and outer peace, insight, health, compassion and strength. Some believe in afterlife…others do not.
Wiccans base their ancient “pagan” beliefs on polytheism centered on a creator Goddess and God in various forms. “If it harms none, do what you will.” Most believe in reincarnation toward perfection in Summerland. Contemporary sects include aligned Animists, Pantheists and Druids.
Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions from ancient Iran 3500 years ago, was founded by the prophet, Zoroaster (Zarathustra). Influencing Judaism and Vedic religions, there is one creator God, Ahura Mazda. Creation is asha, truth and order but it is in conflict with its antithesis, druj, falsehood and disorder. The purpose of life is for mankind to triumph over evil through prayer, ritual purifications and “good words, thoughts and deeds.” We are free to do good or evil… our choice.