Left-handed monk

1
Aug
2007

One of the obsessions of Tibetan Buddhism is to circumambulate various stupas and temples. If possible, they can also turn the prayer wheels that surround many of these structures. Both the circumambulations and the wheel turning are always in a clockwise direction. I was wondering about the origins of this and figured they were mostly biological in nature. As most people are right-handed (with only about 10% lefties), the clockwise direction and turning probably made the most sense, felt the most natural, in this way. And thus something that started as slightly practical grows into a strong superstition about the holiness of direction, added to a particular religious canon.

It is also interesting to note that almost all the monks have their left arm covered by robes, but the right arm shows. Pity the poor left-handed monk, where is his place in the world?