Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/183

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135
TACHIENLU

yard filled with mangy, half-starved dogs and unkempt men. Not far off is one of the great attractions of the place, at least to the natives, — a hot sulphur spring. To the disappointment of my Tibetan guide I declined to visit it, preferring a leisurely cold lunch on the bank of a rushing stream which was vigorously turning a large prayer-wheel, a cylinder of wood inscribed many times over with the mystic words of the Buddhist prayer, "Om mani padme hum," oftenest repeated perhaps of all prayers. Each revolution of the wheel was equivalent to as many repetitions of the words as there were inscribed on the wood. So night and day, while the stream runs, prayers are going up for the king, and truly he needs them, poor man, between the bullying of his Chinese overlords and the machinations of turbulent lamas. Other indications of the Buddhist's comfortable way of getting his prayers said for him are found all about Tachienlu. From temple roof and wayside rock flags bearing the same legend wave in the breeze, each flutter a prayer, and just outside the city we rode by a long stone wall, much like those of New England, only its top was covered over with inscribed stones. If you passed by, having the "mani" wall on your right hand, each inscribed stone would pray for you; hence the trail always forks to suit the coming and the going Buddhist, and I remember well the insolent pride with which my