Tibetan Bead Counting
Teng Mo

You may think you've seen the strangest forms of divination already on this site but get ready to be amazed and flabbergasted. You won't believe what some people will do to see their future.

Mala beads (also known as tenwa) are traditional Tibetan prayer beads which are used to count mantras, prayers and prostrations. Traditionally, they consist of 108 (or sometimes 111 beads) and are made from a variety of seeds, wood, and semiprecious stones. The large bead (usually with a tassel) is called the "guru bead" and symbolises the teacher. Malas with 111 beads include three spacing beads.

The beads may be made from many different materials including rosewood, sandalwood, bone, turquoise and other precious stones, bodhi seeds or lotus seeds.

These beads can be used for divination purposes. There are a few variations of divination using mala beads.

There are two variations for counting the beads. In the first version they are counted two times. In the second version they are counted three times (see below).

The first variant of this method consists of counting through the beads two times....

Visualise your question and seize the tenwa in both hands. Count off the beads by threes moving towards each hand. You will be left with either one, two or three beads. The procedure is repeated once more.

If one bead is left it is called a "falcon" — a positive sign showing good luck, success and support, success in legal affairs.

If two beads are left it is called a "raven" — a negative sign showing bad luck, misfortune and lack of support and illness.

If three beads are left it is called a "snow lion" — a sign that indicates that that although you supported by the gods, you can expect slow but stable accomplishments, but neutral results in business, weakness on the part of your enemies.

If one bead is left it is called a "falcon" — a positive sign showing good luck, success and support, success in legal affairs.

If two beads are left it is called a "raven" — a negative sign showing bad luck, misfortune and lack of support and illness.

If three beads are left it is called a "snow lion" — a sign that indicates that that although you supported by the gods, you can expect slow but stable accomplishments, but neutral results in business, weakness on the part of your enemies.



Interpretations

then
1 after 1

Everything is favourable.

then
2 after 2

The cloudless sky will be darkened, there will be loss of wealth.

then
3 after 3

Prosperity is at hand in all things.

then
3 after 1

Rice plants grow on sandy hills, widows obtain husbands, poor men get rich.

then
1 after 2

Every wish will be fulfilled; you will escape from danger.

then
1 after 3

God's help is at hand. Worship the gods.

then
2 after 3

Mediocre results, legal problems.

then
3 after 2

Turquoise fountains spring forth and fertilise the ground; unexpected food, escape from any danger.

then
2 after 1

Bad omen, contagious disease will come. If you worship the gods and propitiate the demons, it can be prevented.






The second variant of this method consists of counting through the beads three times....

Visualise your question and seize the tenwa in both hands. Count off the beads by threes moving towards each hand. You will be left with either one, two or three beads. The procedure is repeated twice more.

The first result reveals the extent of support and help from the gods.
The second result indicates the conditions in your immediate environment.
The third result gives clues about an expected person arriving from elsewhere.




The best result to receive is three consecutive falcons. This indicates that there is good luck around you, travellers will arrive quickly, patients will recover and accomplishments will be swift.

The first result of the countdown ...
THE EXTENT OF SUPPORT AND HELP FROM THE GODS

If you get a falcon, this indicates good luck, success and support, as well as success in legal affairs.

If you get a raven, this indicates that the deities are not on your side. You can expect no accomplishments, lawsuits will be unsuccessful and there are enemies present. You are cautioned against starting on any new enterprises.

If you get a snow lion, this indicates support from the deities, slow but stable accomplishments and weakness on the part of enemies. If the question concerned successful business, this would be regarded as a neutral result.

The second time ...
THE CONDITIONS IN YOUR IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT

If you get a falcon, this indicates good luck in general, but not much success for those wishing to have children. The risk of thefts and illnesses in general would remain small.

If you get a raven, this indicates serious illness, obstacles to health and a decline in the life force. There will be a tendency for things to get lost or stolen. However, in the case of an ordained person, these negative aspects would be reduced.

If you get a snow lepoard, this indicates problems that can be overcome, passing illnesses andhaving to deal with enemies.

The result of the third and final bead countdown...
CLUES ABOUT AN EXPECTED PERSON ARRIVING FROM ELSEWHERE

If you get a falcon with regard to an expected visitor, this indicates imminent news or arrival. With regard to illness, it would indicate finding the best way to cure it.

If you get a raven, this represents a bad indication concerning expected travelers. They are likely to encounter obstacles on the way will not arrive at all or will be robbed. The sick will not be cured and possessions will be lost or stolen.

If you get a snow lion, this indicates that travellers will arrive late, but come to no harm. Problems with health will be few, although there will be difficulties in finding the right treatment.

Adapted from the method described by Dorjee Tseten in the Tibetan Bulletin: March - April 1995.