Wearing Buddhist Mala or Tulasi Mala Beads, and Pride as a Guru

This is not going to be a lengthy post. Last night, I was involved in a discussion about whether it’s right or wrong to wear mala or tulasi beads around one’s neck or wrist throughout the day, and even while sleeping, using the bathroom, and bathing - and, for lay people, while having sex.

Buddhist and Hindu practitioners, citing their guru’s teachings or even the Buddhist or Hindu Dharma, often come down strongly on one side or another on this question. Personally, I’ve yet to find anything in either Dharma that speaks precisely to the issue of using beads for anything other than meditation.

My thoughts on this have always been the same: we should examine honestly – with unqualified honesty - our motive for wanting to wear beads. If, in being utterly honest with our answer, the intention is anything other than a desire to purify oneself, remind oneself of the Noble Eightfold Path, a wish to attain Arhatship, or to protect oneself from negativity and receive blessings, then don’t wear beads, because these are the only right reasons to wear beads.

If, upon deep and honest self-examination, we must admit that the reason we want to wear beads is to give the false appearance of a spiritual practice and therefore makes us prideful, or because wearing beads has become part of a worldly fashion statement, then we should refrain from wearing holy beads and instead do deep self-work about why we are choosing to identify with Buddhism or Hinduism in the first place.

That’s it. No judgement. We all grapple with pride: we all struggle with the persistent illusion of ‘I’. Pride doesn’t have to be our enemy: it can be our guru, teaching us the path to self-purification, authentic love, true compassion, and right practice. We should continue our practice, meditate, pray, forgive, love one another, study the Dharma, and work all day long to purify our minds and our motives.

Much love,
Barbie xo

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