There are many different religions that use prayer beads, including Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism and Islam. One of the most popular prayer beads, and one which is used by many Buddhist practitioners, is the Soka Gakkai prayer beads.
Soka Gakkai prayer beads are traditional juzu beads used during prayer and meditation.
Juzu prayer beads are one of the three core possessions of Nichiren Shōshū practitioners. The other two are a copy of the Gohonzon, the sacred mandala inscribed by Nichiren Shonin, and a Gohonzon carrying case.
Soka Gakkai Prayer Beads Guide
Soka Gakkai juzu prayer beads are also referred to as “nenju”. These rosaries are made of 108 varying size beads, just like any traditional Buddhist rosary.
The 108 beads represent the many earthly desires that practitioners strive to overcome. Juzu beads can be made from many different materials.
The three most commonly used materials are agate, crystal, and coral, although almost any kind of stone or wood will be suitable. The beads are commonly inter-connected by threads.
Soka Gakkai prayer beads include an additional third dangle, consisting of 10 beads and a “Kosen-Rufu” bead, on the side of the “mother” bead. “Kosen-Rufu” is the Japanese word for world peace.
It signifies the desire to make this world a place where everyone can live in harmony and without conflict.
However, juzu beads used to have only two dangles on each end before the advent of Nichiren Buddhism. The third dangle was attached to the “mother” to represent Nichiren Buddhism and separate it from other sects of Buddhism.
There are four more dangles which have a different shaped bead part way down each length of the string.
The beads are used in a number of different ways. Normally they are used as a tool and a spiritual focal point.
Many people even use prayer beads to help them through stressful times in their lives, such as the death of a loved one or a time when the person wants to find their own way in the world.
It is common for a person to repeat a mantra, or a prayer, as they count their prayer beads. As the person repeats the mantra, they may rotate the beads between each repetition.
Although they are called prayer beads, they are used for much more than just praying. Soka Gakkai juzu prayer beads are used as a method to set the mind to concentrate and encourage positive thinking, recitation of Buddhist mantras and the countings of breath.
These beads serve to center our minds and help us focus our thoughts on the inner self as we mindfully count each bead. This is a great exercise because counting one bead at time closes up your awareness field so that you are concentrating with all your senses on the next bead.
Today most Buddhists use juzu beads more similarly to prayer charms as an aid for meditation and reflection on Buddha’s teachings whenever they feel their mind become restless or unfocused.
These counting accessories can help you both ground yourself spiritually and meditationally and calm your senses.
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DIY Soka Gakkai Prayer Beads Mala
Playing with the beads is a great way to relax and let go of the stress of the day.
You can make Soka Gakkai Beads at home by getting the necessary ingredients from Amazon at a very affordable price. There are many videos on YouTube with instructions to make prayer beads. I am attaching a video below:
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The Soka Gakkai beads (juzu/nenju) help practitioners stay rooted in their prayer sessions.
They also serve as a reminder that our human race is connected. We live on this planet together, and we are all sharing the same experience. The differences that we see between us, do not matter. Rather, we should all believe in our shared humanity.
Soka Gakkai was founded by Japanese educator and author Tsunesaburo Makiguchi in 1930. He believed that the values of Buddhism could contribute to social change. The movement is based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese priest Nichiren.
The Gakkai movement gained popularity during post-World War II Japan. Makiguchi created the educational system that was later used by Soka Gakkai International to spread its philosophical ideas.
Soka Gakkai International (SGI) is a Nichiren Buddhist organization founded in 1975 by Daisaku Ikeda. Soka Gakkai means “Society for the Creation of Value.”
As a non-governmental organization with consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the goal of SGI is to promote global peace, culture, and education. SGI members are people of all nationalities and beliefs.