Mani Rings

by Yutang Lin

Sometime ago I used to wear a Mani ring with relief of Sanskrit characters of the Six-syllable Mantra of Avalokitesvara around it. I did not wear it for a while, and then I could not find it anymore. At first I was thinking to get another one like it. Then I changed my mind and thought that, since the Chinese Six-syllable Mantra sheet that I wrote and printed for free distribution had inspired so many inspirational events, I might as well just reduce its size proportionally to create a Mani ring.

Mani Rings

Photo of Mani Rings

This project was ardently pursued by Upasika Wang in Taipei and Upasaka Stanley Lam in Hong Kong respectively. Each one found a silversmith to design and produce such a ring, and then mailed it to me as an offering. At the beginning of their undertakings I saw in a dream a white metal ring on my left middle finger. Its top is a smooth oval bulge. I interpreted it to mean that this Mani ring has the function of complete reduction of karma.

While Upasika Wang was searching everywhere for a skillful silversmith to accept this order she first mailed me a Sanskrit Mani ring for the interim. This ring has an inner and an outer layer. The outer layer has relief of the Sanskrit characters on it, and it is contained in the central groove of the inner layer. Furthermore, the outer layer can circle around the inner layer. When one wears it one can turn the Mantra words clockwise around and around to symbolize the turning of the Dharma wheel. The design of such a Mani ring is rather interesting and significant, so I take a note of it here.

The Six-syllable Mantra is the heart mantra of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. To Chinese people he is known as Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa, Bodhisattva Observing Worldly Sounds. The mantra signifies the great compassion that universally salvage all sentient beings in the six realms of transmigration. Wearing this Mani ring would remind us to constantly maintain our Bodhicitta without a moment forgetting the suffering beings. Wearing it on the middle finger to signify that Dharma teaches the Middle Path that does not fall into dualistic one-sided views. The six characters are arranged in the order so that the mantra will circle forward when turned clockwise. This is in accordance with the Buddhist tradition of circling clockwise.

As soon as the ring was made in Hong Kong Stanley emailed me two photos. I shared one of them with some Dharma friends through email. When this ring arrived in the mail I was offering incenses in my backyard. I heard the doorbell, so I rushed upstairs to respond. Therefore, when I welcomed this ring there happened to be a bunch of lighted incenses in my hands. Even though it was an unintentional coincidence, it happened to signify properly a solemn reception.

A few days later an American Buddhist friend Nancy Feehan saw the ring in an inspirational dream. I asked her to write it down so as to share the experience with Dharma friends. Today she described it in her email to me. It is quoted below:

Dr. Lin,

I am continuing the healing process, though it is very slow. I remember two weeks ago when this began, I knew you were praying for me. I went to sleep and was awakened in the middle of the night. I was in a lot of pain. I awoke with a smile, and wondered why. Then I realized I had just had a dream that I went to your back yard in the East Bay, and got to see the new Mani ring you had just received. It was on your hand, and you were enjoying sitting in your back yard in the sun, wearing it and praying. You were very excited about it, and with your great smile you showed the ring to me, your eyes sparkling with excitement and reverence. I was deeply touched by both your spirit and the power and beauty of the ring and the synchronicity of its arrival at your house.

June 14, 2002

The silversmith in Taipei made two kinds for us to choose from. I prayed to Paldan Lhamo for guidance and she revealed that the larger size one was extremely auspicious. Hence I decided on it accordingly.

Three days before the one made in Taipei arrived in the mail, on June 10, I saw in a dream the two Mani rings made respectively in Hong Kong and Taipei standing side by side. I think this means that they are of equal standing and both possess power of blessing. In early morning of June 13, I saw in a dream my left middle finger wearing a white metal ring with six pearls standing closely side by side mounted on it. I thought this showed the inner form of the Mani ring made in Taiwan. The six mantra characters are evenly distributed over the rim of the ring; therefore, they were represented by six pearls. Nevertheless, together they form one mantra; therefore, they stood closely side by side. At noon the mail carrier did bring to me this ring.

The one made in Hong Kong is smaller and delicate; it is suitable for daily wearing. The one made in Taiwan is huge and conspicuous; it is like a large banner boldly inspiring the advancement of Dharma activities. I am wearing the Hong Kong one on my right middle finger and the Taiwan one on my left middle finger. Both are important and of great significance to me. Both Mani rings are fulfilled with Guan Yin's compassionate blessings. May Dharma friends who appreciate the value of such Dharma instruments wear them so as to spread Guan Yin's blessings to wherever they reach. If the mantra characters I wrote were made into a pendant for people to wear as a necklace, the blessing would be the same. Just need to make sure that the relief resembles my original writing closely.

Based on my Chinese article with the same title, written on June 15, 2002
El Cerrito, California

Note: I asked Dr. Lin and obtained clarification that production of such a ring will be of blessing power only when it is done solely for Dharma purposes and has no commercial activities involved. -- Stanley Lam

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