Why CD's Don't Work In Prayer Wheels
Over the years a few well-intentioned people have asked me about using CD's in prayer wheels. I investigated the technology with an open mind since it would be so much easier (and cheaper) to burn CD's rather than having to rely on the specialized equipment only available at a microfilm company. To maintain the integrity of the prayer wheel lineage, I follow the mindful guideline that - it is up to the technology to follow the precise lineage instructions of the text written by enlightened beings. And it is not up to unenlightened beings to try to change the text to fit the technology. If we check with clarity on how the technology of CD's work, we will see that when a laser reads a CD it reads it from below. (You can check for yourself at Howstuffworks.com -they have fantastic clear diagrams). These diagrams clearly show that on CD's the nano code that the laser is reading [on the CD] faces downward as the laser shoots upwards to read it. Much like an oldstyle vinyl record player with a needle that reads the grooves [only upside down]. In the 'Mani Kubum' which is the Prayer Wheel Text that includes the benefits of prayer wheels as well as the precise lineage instructions on how to make prayer wheels-it states that the "the letters of the mantra should face outwards." Therefore on this critical point CD's and DVD's do NOT follow the lineage instructions and precise criteria for being effective prayer wheels. And as it states in the text there are negative consequences to using or making prayer wheels that do not fit the criteria as instructed by enlightened beings. Please keep this in mind!

The passage about the direction of the mantras in prayer wheels from the lineage text states:
"The letters of the mantra should face outward; the Om should connect to the life tree or bamboo shaft and then wind around it. This is the traditional practice of the learned ones. Why is this done? The tantra 'Unceasing Dharma Wheel' explains that the syllables of the root mantra should wind around like a snake, with the Om connecting to the life tree and the Hum at the end. With the abiding mantra that goes inside statues or stupas, the letters should face inward and be rolled from the end.
...No matter what size Dharma wheel one makes, if one of the inserted mantras is wound upside down it is as if all the rest were wound upside down as well. So, when you wind and pile [the mantras], do everything carefully - this is important.
Homage to the Transcendent Compassionate-Eyed One!"

As you can see the lineage instructions regarding Buddhist Holy Objects is clean clear. Forget CD's - not even close. People should also check their own prayer wheels that they may have acquired on a trip to Nepal or Tibet. Many of these contain smudgy block prints. I've replaced paper mantras with microfilm in hand-helds that had paper mantras that were backwards, upside down, folded in on themselves, cut, and scrunched. Most hand-helds contain paper scrolls that are purposely burned to give them that sepia colored antique look. Sometimes the mantras have been blackened and overcooked. [It makes me wonder if the cook's karma is taking them under.] The positive power of prayer wheels is so intense [see below] that if it isn't done correctly the lineage text spells out some pretty tragic karmic consequences such as;

"If it is not made with clear inscriptions, one will be born blind.
If wrong view is generated toward the sound of the wheel, one will be born deaf.
If one denies the value of the wheel itself (with nihilistic view), one will be born demented [or stupid].
So, if a fortunate person holds this great wheel of Dharma straight and turns it around, one with superior faculties will achieve Buddhahood and benefit all transmigrators; one with middling faculties will attain a human life and practice the Holy Dharma; and even one with lesser faculties will also find a human life and make an effort to abandon nonvirtues and practice virtues.
This wheel of Dharma called Om Mani Padme Hum, if constructed inside a house and circumambulated will liberate the family [living in the house] from sufferings of lower rebirths, and the house itself will become like the Potala pure land.
This wheel of Dharma, Om Mani Padme Hum, if placed close to a dying person's pillow near the time of death and fervently prayed to from the depths of one's heart, will instantly [cause] one's consciousness to dissolve into the heart of the Transcendent Compassionate-Eyed One without the need for the practice of the transference of consciousness. So, free of doubt, be zealous in constructing this supreme wheel of Dharma and cherish the practice of circumambulating it and so forth.
To this wheel of Dharma, Om Mani Padme Hum, make grand offerings of the various objects of fulfillment such as light, food and so forth. By making offerings, one will become a universal king and be able to enjoy all one's wishes. Ultimately one will attain the state of the Transcendent Compassionate-Eyed One.
All those with fortune, please show, tell and spread this wheel of Dharma called Om Mani Padme Hum to others. Please spread the benefits of the wheel, for doing so is the same as preserving and spreading the Buddhadharma."