Tag Archives: buddhism

Symbols #43: Tibetan Buddhism Auspicious Symbols

In Tibetan Buddhism, these symbols are said to be the luckiest and most sacred of all. Frequently seen in combination with one another, each represents a different component of Buddhist philosophy.

The Parasol: Representing protection and shelter, the Parasol shows how Buddha’s teachings will shield us from the “heat” of forces like greed and lust.

The Golden Fish: A symbol of joy and liberation, the Fish represent freedom from samsara, or the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

The Conch Shell: Used to call individuals to prayer, the Conch’s resounding trumpet represents the influence of dharma and its ability to awaken us from ignorance.

The Lotus: A symbol of enlightenment, the Lotus mirrors human suffering. Growing through muck in order to blossom, the Lotus shows that we too may blossom through Buddha’s wisdom.

The Urn: A symbol of abundance, the Urn is evocative of Buddha’s spiritual wealth, demonstrating that there is no end to his knowledge and wisdom.

The Infinite Knot: With no beginning or end, the Infinite Knot reflects Buddha’s infinite compassion as well as the interconnectedness of all living things.

The Banner: Also known as the Flag, the Banner represents victory over ignorance and the obstacles that block the path to enlightenment.

The Wheel: The Wheel of Law, or Dharmachakra, is a summation of Buddha’s teachings. The eight spokes are Buddha’s Eightfold Path, while the inner hub is the discipline required to follow it.

Symbols #42: Om Mani Padme Hum

Om Mani Padme Hum is a mantra of benevolence and is often recited to inspire compassion. The syllable “Om” represents the body, spirit, and speech of Buddha; “Mani” is for the path of teaching; “Padme” for the wisdom of the path, and “Hum” indicates the union of wisdom and the path to it. Though commonly associated with Tibetan Buddhism, meditators across various practices find this mantra inspiring. Compassion, after all, isn’t exclusive to any one belief system.

Symbols #40: Happy Buddha

Full of exuberance, Happy Buddha is often mistaken for Siddhārtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. But the image of Happy Buddha is actually based on a wandering Chinese monk, Budai (Hotei, in Japanese), who lived centuries ago.

Happy Buddha is believed to be Maitreya, or the Buddha to come. His plump figure and benign countenance suggest magnanimity and plenitude. Also called Laughing Buddha, his signature smile is symbolic of pure joy. Happy Buddha is considered a symbol of good luck, and it is thought that rubbing his big head or belly brings fortune and wealth. At the same time, his walking stick and satchel remind us to pay attention to the journey before us, not just the destination.

Symbols #39: Sri Yantra

The Sri Yantra is the most revered of all yantras, or mystical diagrams. It consists of nine interlocking triangles surrounded by two circles of lotus petals. In the middle is a dot, or bindu, which symbolizes the place from which all creation emerges. Its four upright triangles represent male energy, or Shiva, while the five downward facing triangles represent female energy, Shakti. Together, they represent all of the cosmos and the union of its forces.

The Sri Yantra is said to contain the path to enlightenment. Its geometry is so profound, that meditating on its patterns is said to inspire divine wisdom and a sense of oneness. For this reason, the Sri Yantra is considered a powerful tool for spiritual growth.

Symbols #34: Vajra

A ritual tool used for spiritual worship, the Vajra scepter is a combination of two powerful symbols: the diamond and the lightning bolt. The diamond, a substance which cuts but cannot be cut, represents resolute spirit. The lightning bolt, with its overwhelming force, represents great power. Together they represent compassion, the most powerful force of all and the ultimate path to enlightenment.

The Vajra sometimes appears as a Double Vajra, also known as Visvavajra. Depicted as an X or shown in vertical form (like a plus sign), it represents the indestructible foundation of the universe. The Double Vajra also stands for protection, harmony, and all-knowingness.

Symbols #21: Om/Aum

Most of us are aware of this sacred symbol because of its extensive usage across various cultures. It can be rightly called as the “Mother of all Mantras”. This symbol represents the primordial sound of creation which when chanted can help you connect to the divine energy. The power of this symbol is infinite as it can help open your third eye.

It’s the primary force of Hinduism representing the blend of time – past, present, and future. Ardent yoga and meditation practitioners say that it manifests itself in deep meditation. You can find the inscriptions of this symbol in the medieval era Manuscripts, temples, and spiritual retreats of various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Symbols #17: Bodhi Leaf

As the name suggests, it is a leaf from the Bodhi tree and a celebrated emblem in Buddhism. Lord Buddha who desired spiritual wisdom, in the search of which sacrificed all the princely pleasures finally achieved it under the Spiritual Bodhi tree. After 49 days of rigid meditation, he finally achieved enlightenment and in honor to that, the Bodhi leaf represents spiritual awakening.

It also determines how perseverance is of utmost importance in this materialistic world. The bodhi leaf tries to teach the humankind that without patience and dedication, you will never be able to achieve solace as the answers will not come walking to you, you need to find them.

Symbols #13: The Endless Knot

When you first look at it, you will not be able to spot the beginning or the end of this infinite knot. It is crafted to represent that the entire world is interconnected and radiates calm and movement. Apart from this, the knot also acts as a reminder of how time is an illusion and Dharma is eternal.

It is also an embodiment of Buddha’s infinite compassion in Buddhism and symbolizes the fact that earthly life and religious thought are intertwined. Contrary to the popular belief it shows people that enlightenment need not necessarily mean that you need to give up on worldly matters.

Symbols #10: The Lotus Flower

The lotus flower is a very sacred and ancient symbol of spirituality. It represents spiritual development, enlightenment, and perseverance.

Lotus flowers take root in muddy river beds, yet they flourish and bloom the most beautiful flowers. It’s incredible that something so gorgeous begins life in such a dirty and dark place. However, the deeper and darker the mud, the more radiant the lotus flower will be.

“Just like the lotus, we too have the ability to rise from the mud, bloom out of darkness and radiate into the world.”

Symbols #6: Zen Circle

Zen Circle is a symbol originated in Zen Buddhism that symbolizes effortlessness and enlightenment. The beauty with which is drawn itself is a replica of the message. The effortless brushstroke teaches us to just be.

Also known as Enso or the Infinity Circle, the Zen Circle conveys some of the most primary concepts of Zen Buddhism that is, enlightenment, effortlessness, and imperfection. It is drawn with a fluid elegance, which evokes peace and a sense of wholeness among the viewers.

Symbols #2: The Tree Of Life

Sacred depictions of trees have been around for centuries and are prominent in most world religions, including Judaism and Buddhism. This geometric symbol is at the center of the mystical Kabbalah tradition, but it also showed up in Ancient Egypt over 3,000 years ago. While its roots are fairly esoteric, the spatial formation of the symbol should be quite familiar to you. The National Mall in Washington, D.C., for instance, is even constructed in this exact shape. The Tree of Life is said to depict man’s divine unity with the universe and can be understood as a map of the human mind or psyche.