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The Meaning and Symbolism
of SGI Juzu (prayer beads)

The prayer beads are a religious implement used during gongyo and daimoku as one expresses, through heartfelt prayer, her appreciation for the Three Treasures of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Law, and the gathering of followers of Nichiren and Nikko. In the days of Nichiren Daishonin, prayer beads had only two tassels on each end. Later on, however, another tassel was added at one end of the beads used in Nichiren Buddhism.

The prayer beads SGI members use symbolize various points of Buddhist doctrine. The two large beads represent the principle of kyochi myogo, the fusion of objective reality (kyo) and subjective wisdom (chi). The large bead on the end with 3 tassels represents Shakyamuni Buddha, or subjective wisdom; the other one represents Taho Buddha, or objective reality. The Essential Doctrines of the Fuji Sect compiled by 59th High Priest Nichiko Hori confirms the tradition of placing the beads so that the large bead representing Shakyamuni goes on the right hand and the one representing Taho goes on the left. This placement may be explained by the position of Shakyamuni and Taho in the Treasure Tower. Looking at the Gohonzon, Taho appears to our right and Shakyamuni to our left, but from the Gohonzon's side, Shakyamuni is positioned to the right of the Treasure Tower of Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and Taho to the left.

The 108 main body beads on the string symbolize 108 earthly desires. The four different beads in the main body represent the Four Great Bodhisattvas: Jogyo, Muhengyo, Jyogyo, and Anryugyo.

These handmade juzu have the same number of beads as the traditional juzu. The tassels are marbles or beads wrapped in seed beads, in a base with three strands joining at the top. They represent the will to attain kosen-rufu. The four bigger beads on the ends represent vessels to store benefit. The extra little bead on the left side means the enlightenment of kyochi myogo. I use a strong cable called Softflex. In most cases, it should never break. The ends are macramé in ivory (not bright white), gray-silver, black, and another colour may be requested.

Juzu translates to "prayer beads" so juzu beads is redundant—in case you're interested.

Sun Lotus Jewelry & Art, Portland, Oregon
503-892-5805
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