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Buddhism Ideas and Symbols

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1 Buddhism Ideas and Symbols

2 Buddhism… Symbolism of the lotus flower in Buddhism

3 Roots grow in mud at bottom of ponds, flower rises above the water and points towards the sky.
Buddhism training is compared to the lotus.

4 Greed, hate, and delusion in ourselves and in the world provide the ‘mud’ which nourishes our spiritual growth. When we are willing to face the darker side in ourselves in meditation, and lead a moral life the poisons of greed, hate and delusion are gradually transformed into compassion and wisdom.

5 The Lotus and the Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path can be related to the parts of the lotus as follows:

6 Right Understanding The root of the lotus.
Without putting down the roots of Right Understanding true spiritual growth is not possible.

7 Right Thought The stem of the lotus.
The stem (Right Thought) depends on the root (Right Understanding).

8 Right Speech The lotus bud.
When thoughts (the stem) are right, then Right Speech (the bud) follows naturally.

9 Right Action The unfolding of the lotus flower.
Our actions must agree with our speech, otherwise we are like a bud that never blossoms.

10 Right Livelihood The lotus blossom.
The inspiration of the example of a true Buddhist causes other to know the beauty of religious training.

11 Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Meditation
The putting forth of seeds. A Buddhist makes an effort to demonstrate the Truth by meditating, keeping the Precepts and being mindful. In so doing, they plant seeds that others can grow into their own lotus blossom.

12 Buddha –shown sitting or standing on a lotus flower
Symbolic of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas being born and living in the world, even though they are Enlightened.

13 Meditation Gong In Chinese and Japanese temples meditation gongs are shaped like lotuses.

14 Buddhist Bow A Buddhist bow symbolizes the opening and offering of the lotus blossom, openness to the teaching and willingness for religious training.

15 Meditation For Buddhists activity isn’t everything – action needs to be balanced with times of inactivity Being still is as important as ‘doing’. Purpose is mental development – to remove unhelpful states of mind (anger, greed, hatred) and to cultivate wholesome states of mind. Developing positive thoughts, concentration and kind wishes is extremely powerful.

16 Mantras – Sacred Words A condensed form of Buddhist teachings
The most well known is the mantra of compassion: ‘OM MANI PADME HUM’ Roughly translates as ‘Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus’ The Jewel refers to teaching of compassion, and the Lotus to the wisdom contained in the scriptures.

17 Relieve Stress & Meditate: Get a Mantra !
Ohm...mani...padme...hung... Hail to the jewel in the lotus!

18 Mantra means ‘mind protection’, and reciting mantras while spinning a prayer wheel reminds you to develop compassion and thus ‘protects’ the mind from thoughts of aggression and ill-will. Spinning the prayer wheel is symbolic of sending out thoughts of compassion to all beings

19 A similar belief motivates the use of prayer flags.
Both flags and wheels can be set in motion by the wind as well as by human hands so the prayers are continually sent around the world Mantras are printed on the material then they are strung up between trees, buildings, etc..

20 Mudra – (hand gesture) Gesture of reverence and respect.
The Gassho is the most common mudra. Hands are placed together in front of the chest with no gaps between the palms or between the fingers and thumbs. Gassho represents the lotus bud and symbolizes our true spiritual potential Some gestures with palms apart so that the hands are in the shape of a lotus bud.

21 Mandalas – sacred art in the form of a circle with squares establishes sacred space as aid to meditation

22 Some Tibetan monks spend days making intricate patterned mandalas out of colored sand then after a short time the sand is scattered to the elements. It is a good lesson on impermanence and non-attachment. Video clip

23 Buddha Statue (rupa) Many styles depending on the country of origin.
The symbolism and hand positions depict different qualities and are a reminder of what can be achieved by following Buddha’s example Used as aid when meditating or worshipping

24 Bodhisattvas Someone who is well advanced on the path towards Buddhahood Like a Christian Saint, a Bodhisattva aims to develop wisdom and compassion in order to help everyone in the best way ossible. They are not worshipped but paid respect as a reminder of the Buddha potential.

25 Home Shrines Making offerings in front of a Buddha statue is an important practice for many Buddhists when preparing for daily meditation It helps generate attitudes of generosity and non-attachment, important for spiritual development. Water (symbolizing touch and honoring the Buddha), Flowers (symbolizing beauty and sight), Incense ( symbolizing smell), Light (symbolizing understanding), Food (symbolizing taste), Shell ( symbolizing music and hearing)

26 Web Resources:

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