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<   No. 2349   2009-07-02   >

Comic #2349

1 {scene: inside a remote monastery}
1 [caption]: Tibet:
1 Young Jane Goodall: I'm here in search of the yeti.
1 Monk: No such thing.
2 Young Jane Goodall: But stories of the yeti have been coming out of Tibetan monasteries for hundreds of years!
3 Monk: It's just a story to boost tourism.
3 Young Jane Goodall: Tourism?
4 Monk: You're here, aren't you? Want to buy a prayer wheel?

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Prayer wheels are an interesting invention. The idea is that reciting prayers is good and accumulates some sort of metaphysical brownie points. This is a common enough belief amongst many religions all over the world. Tibetan Buddhism takes a very pragmatic approach to this concept, by extending the idea to prayers written on physical objects, in particular cylindrical drums mounted on axles so they can be spun around. The act of spinning one of these "prayer wheels" is then essentially equivalent to reciting the inscribed prayer.

And this idea is not merely limited to spinning the prayer wheel manually. There are giant prayer wheels, hitched up to power sources such as waterwheels or windmills. These spin continuously, racking up positive karma without anyone actually needing to do any work whatsoever! You can also hook a prayer wheel up to a combustion engine or the mains power grid. Canonically, this still works, but using electricity to spin your prayer wheel is not recommended because the good karma accrues to the power company, not yourself. Seriously.

Human ingenuity is limitless. Who ever would have thought that you could invent a labour-saving device to save the hassle of saying prayers and building up cosmic good karma? (Well, besides the ancient Tibetan monks who actually thought of it...)

I wonder if other religions could be persuaded to adopt this approach. Can you imagine chain-driven rosary beads, accumulating hundreds of "Hail Mary"s a minute?

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Last Modified: Thursday, 2 July 2009; 03:11:01 PST.
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