Tag Archives: Buddhist

Symbols #45: The Gayatri Yantra

The Illumined Mind and Universal Knowledge – This symbol represents the illumined mind and far-sighted wisdom. The words and sounds of the Gayatri Mantra comprise the most powerful of Vedic affirmations. using this symbol removes the possibility of making wrong choices in life by empowering all truth. It ocalizes complex and cosmic wisdom about all earth elements, plants, trees, animals, insects, fishes and birds, making an understanding of the whole life creation. Enhances the ability to sharpen one’s intellect and spiritual awareness. Used on water, it carries the harmonic resonance of the wisdom of all life. On a larger, universal scale, the use of the Gayatri Mantra and the sacred symbol, the Gayatri Yantra, representing those enlightened sounds, radiates vast and powerful knowledge to all beings.

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 #38: Stupa

Stupas are religious monuments and the most iconic forms of Buddhist architecture. Inspired by India’s ancient burial mounds, the first Buddhist stupas were originally created to house Buddha’s remains. Today, they are used for worship and to commemorate different aspects of Buddha’s legacy. Some contain Buddha’s possessions or those of his disciples. Others mark a significant event in Buddha’s life. Some stupas represent his teachings while others are built as a form of devotion.

Stupas are often dome-shaped and include several components of Buddhist philosophy as part of their design. Practitioners visit stupas for a variety of reasons. One may seek good blessings, make an offering, or pray for someone in need. When visiting a stupa, it is custom to walk around its base clockwise as a form of meditation.

Symbols #37: Skulls

Spotted in paintings and statues, skulls feature prominently in Eastern iconography. In both Buddhism and Hinduism wrathful deities are often depicted wearing necklaces of human skulls known as munda malas. In Tibetan Buddhism, certain tantric rituals require the use of vessels made from human skulls. These are known as Kapalas and were traditionally used to make offerings to the gods.

In Tibetan Buddhism, skulls represent bliss, the limits of human knowledge, and the Buddhist concept of emptiness, or the idea that nothing has an inherent essence. Denoting death, skulls are also a reminder of impermanence and life’s malleable nature. Because nothing is fixed and all is fleeting, one sees a skull and is reminded to embrace empathy: live today, for tomorrow is not guaranteed.

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.”

Religion #2: Buddhism

“Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life. There are 376 million followers worldwide.

Buddhists seek to reach a state of nirvana, following the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC.

There is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible. The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.

Buddhists believe that life is both endless and subject to impermanence, suffering and uncertainty. These states are called the tilakhana, or the three signs of existence. Existence is endless because individuals are reincarnated over and over again, experiencing suffering throughout many lives.

It is impermanent because no state, good or bad, lasts forever. Our mistaken belief that things can last is a chief cause of suffering.

The history of Buddhism is the story of one man’s spiritual journey to enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it.

The Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ – a life without luxury but also without poverty.

Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened.

By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or ‘awakened one’.

Schools of Buddhism
There are numerous different schools or sects of Buddhism. The two largest are Theravada Buddhism, which is most popular in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma (Myanmar), and Mahayana Buddhism, which is strongest in Tibet, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.

The majority of Buddhist sects do not seek to proselytise (preach and convert), with the notable exception of Nichiren Buddhism.

All schools of Buddhism seek to aid followers on a path of enlightenment.

Key facts
-Buddhism is 2,500 years old
-There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
-There are over 150,000 Buddhists in Britain
-Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama’s quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC
-There is no belief in a personal God. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
-Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent – change is always possible
-The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism, but there are many more
Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
-The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.”

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/ataglance/glance.shtml

Shunyata

Shunyata: (Śūnyatā, शून्यता (Sanskrit, Pali: suññatā), or “Emptiness”) In Buddhist metaphysical critique and Buddhist epistemology and phenomenology, shunyata signifies that everything one encounters in life is empty of soul, permanence, and self-nature. Everything is inter-related, never self-sufficient or independent; nothing has independent reality. Yet shunyata never connotes nihilism, which Buddhist doctrine considers to be a delusion, just as it considers materialism to be a delusion.

Zazen

In Zen Buddhism, sitting meditation or zazen (Japanese: 座禅; literally “seated concentration”) is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind and experience insight into the nature of existence. While the term originally referred to a sitting practice, it is now commonly used to refer to practices in any posture, such as walking.