A mala is, put simply, a string of beads that are used in a meditation practice. It is used as a tool to help count during mantras, and acts as a tactile guide as you sit in silence. Malas can be made of many different materials, for example some are made using rudraksha seeds and sandalwood.
What Is The Tassel?
The mala tassel has multiple meanings. A common meaning is that as the strings come together as one to form the tassel, it represents our connection to the divine and to each other. I personally love the concept of it representing oneness.
The Guru Bead
The Guru Bead is the bead that the tassel attaches directly to. When the tassel is strung on a necklace, the Guru Bead is often the 109th bead. The Guru Bead is said to symbolize the Guru from who the student has received a mantra being used or recited, and pay homage to the student-guru connection.
Overhand knotting not only makes the mala stronger, it is a true sign of a traditionally crafted mala, it also provides the perfect opportunity for Japa Meditation – a meditation that uses each bead to count a repetition of a mantra.
History of Mala
Mala beads have been used by yogis, monks and spiritual seekers for thousands of years to aid their minds in focusing during meditation. Malas are known to have first been created in India 3000 years ago with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism; they were, and are still, used for a specific style of meditation called Japa, which means, “to recite”. The name ‘mala’ is a Sanskrit word for “meditation garland.”
“Here’s another metaphor for thinking about the ultimate nature of reality:
Imagine, if you will, an infinite chameleon.
Oh, common on! It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. Put on your thinking-cap and play along.
A regular chameleon is only able change itself in one way: by changing colors. Which equals one degree of freedom. But imagine a creature which is so flexible that it’s able (somehow) to be a chameleon in every way possible. Meaning, it has infinite degrees of freedom. Imagine it could freely morph its size, shape, texture, temperature, smell, bones, cells, molecules, atoms, and even the physical laws which govern its entire being.
How could it do that?
Well… it would have to actually be limitless. As in: without limit. As in: an unlimited, all-powerful chameleon. (Don’t worry, he’s only a danger to pesky flies.)
What would such a creature look it?
Well, not much like a standard chameleon, that’s for sure. It wouldn’t even be right to call it a creature because a “creature” is a label we invented to refer to a set of certain constrains upon infinite degrees of freedom. To be a “creature” precisely means that you’re not free to be something else, like a coffee table. So this thing is not really a creature. But it’s also not a “thing”, because to be a “thing” is also a set of constrains upon infinite degrees of freedom. So this infinite chameleon would most closely resemble no-thing. Why nothing? Because, imagine that every property sort of cancels itself out by its negation, like the positive and negative integers might if you tried to add them all together.
But notice, this would not be your ordinary notion of nothingness, like some kind of black, lifeless void. Instead, imagine this “nothingness chameleon” as having infinite degrees of freedom, allowing “him” to masquerade as everything. He would be bursting at the seams with infinite potential, ready to actualize into something concrete.
So why bother calling it a chameleon then?
Because, the essence of its nature is chameleon-like to the Nth degree. Its very structure exudes illusion and misdirection, for which I think the label “chameleon” is apropos. Plus, everyone knows chameleons are cool.
Could a monster-sized infinite chameleon be hiding right under your nose right this very second?
Impossible! Unscientific! Illogical! Just a silly thought experiment! Mere philosophy! Balderdash!
Maybe. Or maybe… if you stop for a second and consciously look around you, you’ll notice that you’re inside the infinite chameleon right now! After all, where else could you be?
Perhaps you are the infinite chameleon, hiding from itself!
Granted, such a discovery would be rather implausible, outrageous, and embarrassing to admit. After all, how could a chameleon hide himself from himself? But then again, it is a chameleon we’re talking about here. Have you seen how regular chameleons hide in the jungle? They’re pretty good at it. And they’ve only mastered 1 degree of freedom. Imagine what an infinite chameleon could do to hide himself from you.
Maybe you can spot his hoof-prints in the sand 😉
P.S. The nice thing about chasing down infinite chameleons is that there can only be one of him to find 😉
P.P.S. Please don’t poke or worship the infinite chameleon. It makes him cry ;)”