More Pictures from China

The Great Welcoming Eagle. Below is the building of a canal - stone by stone. Temples are everywhere and old age is greatly revered as shown by the God of Old Age and Wisdom (below left) Dave took a great shot of a loom knowing how interested I am in weaving (see art & creativity weaving exhibition) I am afraid I would never have woven a thing if I had to use this loom!

Below is a mural of Quan Yin as well as the sacred elephant. Great symbols of Buddhism are as follows -
FOR AN AN INTRODUCTION TO BUDDHIST SYMBOLS PLEASE SCROLL DOWN AT THE LEFT

BEGGING BOWL – RENUNCIATION
Legend has it that as the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree determined to win enlightenment or die, he was offered a bowl of rice by Sujata, a young woman. The Buddha is said to have divided the rice up and ate a little each day until he finally won enlightenment. Then the Buddha threw what was a bowl into the river to signify his renunciation of all possessions. The bowl therefore is a symbol of the historical Buddha. It also points to the Buddha’s way of life, taking his bowl from village to village and living off what was put into the bowl by householders. The early monks wandered from place to place content with their robe and begging bowl.

BELL – WOMAN/WISDOM
Bells in Buddhist art and ritual are associated with the female principle, in contrast to the vajra or diamond/thunderbolt which represents the masculine. Whereas the vajra symbolizes compassion, the bell symbolizes wisdom.

CONCH SHELL – RIGHT SPEECH
The conch shell - coiling to the right - is one of Buddhism's eight auspicious symbols. As a means of making sound, it symbolizes the power of the Buddha's teachings. It is also one of the eight auspicious substances and signifies right speech, the third factor of the noble eightfold path.

CROWN – SPIRIT CHAKRA
The crown is associated with royalty but in a Buddhist context signifies the spiritual supremacy of the Buddha or Bodhisattva wearing it. Crowns and headdresses are more often found in the Mahayaya and Vajrayana traditions rather than Theravada. Sometimes the crowns are ornamented with other Buddha and Bodhisattva figures.

DEER – TEACHINGS
Sometimes the Buddha is depicted seated on a throne upon which two deer - facing each other - are depicted. These relate to the Buddha's first teaching which took place at the Deer Park in Sanarth, Northern India. Sometimes two deer are portrayed either side of the Wheel of Law which in itself is associated with the Buddha's teachings

DIAMOND – POWER OF WISDOM
In Vajrayana Buddhism, the vajra is a diamond (but can also be translated as thunderbolt). It symbolizes what are seen to be essential qualities of Buddhism. Just as the diamond is hard, so the Buddha's teachings are indestructible. The power of the thunderbolt is similar to the power of the Buddha's message that has the power to cut through ignorance and lead all beings to enlightenment

DRAGON – KWAN YIN
Unlike its demonic European counterpart, the Tibetan dragon is a creature of great creative power. It has the ability to change size at will, at one time covering the skies, another time being invisible. At the spring equinox it ascends to the sky, where it remains until the autumn equinox, when it descends to a deep pool, living in mud for the winter.
It is symbol of heaven and the power of spring. Accompanying the dragon is the elusive flaming pearl. A pair of dragons are often seen fighting over it, chasing it across the sky.

ENDLESS KNOT – ETERNITY & PERFECTION
This intriguing symbol - one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism - symbolizes the intertwining of wisdom and compassion, the perfection of knowledge

FOOTPRINT – REMINDER
prior to his death the Buddha left an imprint of his foot on a stone near Kusinara, a reminder of his presence on earth. Sometimes the Buddha's footprint is marked with other symbols such as the wheel and the lotus.

GOLDEN FISH – FREEDOM FROM KARMA
The image of two golden fish head to head has been variously interpreted. Traditionally symbols of fertility, in Buddhism the fish have been said to signify fearlessness and happiness as they swim freely through the oceans without drowning. The sea in Buddhism is associated with the world of suffering, the cycle of samsara. The image of the golden fish is one of the eight auspicious symbols. Having complete freedom in water, fish represent happiness, fertility, and abundance. On a spiritual level, they represent the abundance of the Buddha’s energy, which never diminishes, no matter how much is given away.

HAIRSTYLE – BUN – WISDOM
The bun was traditionally associated with royalty but in a Buddhist context indicates the Buddha's wisdom.

LION – REGALITY
The lion is one of Buddhism's most potent symbols. Traditionally, the lion is associated with regality, strength and power. It is therefore an appropriate symbol for the Buddha who tradition has it was a royal prince. The Buddha's teachings are sometimes referred to as the 'Lion's Roar', again indicative of their strength and power. In Buddhist art, lions are sometimes depicted on the throne the Buddha sits on.

LOTUS – MENTAL PURITY
The lotus is one of Buddhism's most significant symbols. It is a symbol of enlightenment and mental purity. The lotus has its roots in mud but blossoms into a beautiful flower. Similarly, though an individual may be impure, there is the potential to gain enlightenment and the perfect state. An open blossom signifies full enlightenment; a closed blossom signifies the potential for enlightenment. The historical Buddha, Sakyamuni, is associated with a pink lotus. QUAN YIN is associated with the red lotus, which symbolizes love and compassion. The blue lotus is associated with Manjusri and symbolizes wisdom. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are often depicted sitting on a fully opened lotus.

MONKS STAFF
A monk's staff symbolizes the bright, upright mind akin to the upright body in meditation. This mind accepts things as they are, does not find fault with persons or circumstances, nor is it swayed by praise or pride - it is the mind that does not move. All things are in their own true place, undisturbed. This mind is what we can truly lean on, as on a staff. Here the opposites, `crooked and straight', are transcended.

MOUNTAINS – CENTER BETWEEN HEAVEN & ILLUSION/EARTH
There are two key mountains in Buddhist symbolism. The first is Vulture Peak in northern India where the Buddha is said
to have delivered a number of sermons. Vulture Peak has particular significance in Mahayana Buddhism as one of its key texts, the Lotus Sutra, is said to have developed out of the Buddha's teachings at Vulture Peak. The second belongs to Buddhist cosmology and is known as Mount Meru, mythologically the center of the Buddhist universe and the link between the hells below the earth and the heavens above.

MUDRAS – MYSTERY
Mudra is a Sanskrit word meaning 'seal' or 'mystery'. In Buddhist art and sculpture, it refers to the symbolic hand gestures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The following are the principal mudras.
Earth-Touching - sitting in the lotus position. His right hand falls over his right knee and touches the earth. This mudra recalls the moment prior to his enlightenment when the Buddha called upon the earth to witness his perfect commitment to gaining complete realization. In short, therefore, the earth-touching gesture symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment.
Explanation - This gesture is formed by having the palm of either hand outward facing and the thumb and forefinger forming a circle. Sometimes the hand can be raised chest high or it can overlap the knee. In some depictions both hands are used - one raised, one lowered - or just one hand alone. This mudra symbolizes the Buddha's teaching and the force of its truth
Fearlessness - This gesture takes the form of a raised right hand to the shoulder, with palm outwards and fingers together. It signifies the freedom from fear held by the Buddha due to his enlightenment and supreme wisdom but is also a gesture of friendship. In the ancient world an open palm raised like this was a sign of peace as the hand was clearly weaponless. Legend has it that the Buddha subdued a raging elephant by raising his hand in this way.
Giving - This is usually made with the left (sometimes right) hand with palm outwards. When the Buddha is depicted in the lotus position, the hand overlaps his knee. When the Buddha is depicted standing, the hand is to his side, again with palm facing outwards. This mudra symbolizes the Buddha's compassion and his commitment to give to all those who call upon him
Meditation - a very well-known mudra which symbolizes the Buddha's enlightenment. The Buddha is shown in the lotus position with his right hand resting in his left hand, palms upwards and the thumbs touching lightly at the tips to from a triangle.
Prayer - In Buddhism, as in most religious traditions, the palms joined together and pointing upwards is a gesture of devotion and reverence. In Buddhist iconography and in Buddhist worship, the palms are joined at chest level.
Turning the Wheel of Dharma - is ostensibly one of the more complex mudras. The thumb and forefinger are joined at the tip in each hand to create a circle. Both hands are held at chest height with the right palm facing outwards and the left palm inwards. This mudra symbolizes the Buddha's first sermon in which the initial teachings were given. The word dharma or dhamma refers to the Buddhist teachings, traditionally represented as a wheel.

OLD WOMAN
In Great Master Dogen's time, a Zen master whether male or female was called an Old Woman if she or he compassionately `fed' their disciples with the Dharma when they were `hungry' and in need of teaching. We speak of her as our spiritual mother and father, or for her grand disciples, as grandmother and grandfather. As she was a woman and often referred to herself as an `old monk,' I have recently come to think of her in the honorific used by Dogen - the Old Woman. She lit the way for us on the Dharma road, always pointing beyond the opposites, always sitting on the rock of certainty whether showered with the rain of the Dharma or pounded by waves of karma. She truly had an Old Woman's heart [Chinese: p'o hsin], a soft, accepting, open and compassionate heart. This is not only the kindness of an old grandmother- it is the heart of Truth Itself, the Tathagata-womb, she who embraces all.

PARASOL - PROTECTION
is associated with wealth, nobility and power, those who could afford to be protected from the sun and rain. For Buddhism, it signifies the Buddha's spiritual power in protecting beings from the miseries of samsara, the cycle of life.

PEARL - JEWEL – LIGHT OF ENLIGHTMENT
This precious stone symbolizes spiritual wealth that can be found in the Buddha's teachings. At the same time it can refer to the ultimate goal of Buddhism which is enlightenment. In Mahayana Buddhism, the jewel is associated with Quan Yin and the granting of spiritually appropriate wishes. It is therefore referred to as the 'Wish-granting Jewel'. When three jewels are presented, these refer to the Buddha, the Dhamma (or teaching) and the Sangha (the Buddhist community.

PINE BRANCH
A pine tree is an evergreen - an Ever Green, representing the everlasting life of Buddha. When you know that it exists and stay close to it in daily life, realizing it over and again, then you have `taken a pine branch in your hand'. In the Chinese text this `taking in your hand' has two aspects. First, it is we ourselves who must do this. Others can show the way but each of us goes alone, training with our specific conditioning and making our own choices on the Path. At the same time, this is not something that can be forced. We can only take the next step; there are no shortcuts and we must deal with obstacles: see, know and embrace them. Conditions take time to ripen and Truth unfolds in its own way, naturally. Blossom
When we keep training eventually the flower of the pine branch will bloom. You may say that you have never seen a pine tree with blossoms; these are no ordinary pink or yellow buds springing forth. The spiritual pine branch blooms with the flower of Eternal Meditation. This flower has five petals, five `aspects' which one can know individually as each petal, and all at once as a flower. Rev. Master Jiyu saw these `petals' as columns of light and explains each one in her book How to Grow a Lotus Blossom. The Most Excellent Mirror-Samudhi, one of the scriptures sung daily in temples and monasteries of the Soto Zen tradition, speaks of the `five branches of the diamond sceptre'. To know this blossom, we need to study ourselves thoroughly and follow the Precepts in depth

POSTURES - HARMONY.
STANDING - In such instances, the posture is often accompanied by the fearlessness gesture (right hand raised at the elbow with palm facing outwards) and the giving gesture (left hand dangling downwards with palm facing outwards).

WALKING - One foot is firmly planted on the ground, the other is raised slightly. This posture is often accompanied by the fearlessness gesture (the right arm raised at the elbow with palm facing outwards) and the left arm hanging down.

SITTING - One of the most frequent is the lotus position which consists of the legs crossed with feet resting on the opposite thigh and with soles upwards. Less frequently, the Buddha is depicted sitting on a throne with his legs hanging down to the ground or with feet resting on a small footstool. Another sitting posture has one leg in the lotus position and the other hanging down or sometimes folded upright with foot flat on the base (on a throne for example). Occasionally, the Buddha is depicted with his left leg hanging to the ground with his right foot folded over it horizontally or the legs are crossed at the ankles.

KNEELING - In Buddhist art, the devotional posture of kneeling tends to be restricted to saints and other holy beings surrounding a central Buddha or Bodhisattva. Sometimes this posture is accompanied by the prayer gesture.

LYING DOWN - BUDDHA POSE The lying down posture is found in Buddhist art, sculpture and architecture. It refers to the Buddha's final passing into nibbana (or nirvana), known as his parinibbana or parinirvana. The Buddha is depicted lying on his right side, his head supported by his right hand and his left arm resting along the left side

EMBRACING - with a female consort. The male figure is usually seated whilst the female figure embraces him, wrapping her legs around his waist. This ostensibly sexual embrace symbolizes the union of compassion (the male side) and wisdom (the female side) of his body.

SNOW LION –
The snow lion is the national emblem of Tibet. A white snow lion, seen with a brown or turquoise mane, represents the earth element, fearlessness, and victory.

SWATSKI – GOOD FORTUNE
Symbolizes good fortune. In Buddhism, it is a symbol of the Buddha's heart and mind, sometimes appearing on the Buddha's chest in sculptural representations.

SWORD – TRUTH
In Buddhist art, the sword represents wisdom which has the capacity to cut through ignorance and delusion. The Bodhisattva Manjusri, who embodies wisdom, is often depicted wielding a sword, sometimes five-pointed symbolizing the human figure

THIRTY – TWO MARKS OF THE BUDDHA
In India before the time of the Buddha, tradition had it there were thirty-two 'marks' of the 'Great Man'. These came to be applied to the Buddha and some of them feature in Buddhist art. The Buddha himself is the 33rd. This was copied by the Freemasons etc.

THRONE – HIGH SPIRITUAL STATUS
The throne reflects the high spiritual status of the figure seated upon it. A lotus throne is quite common, indicating enlightenment. Sometimes the base of the throne may be decorated with other symbols such as lions and deer, both associated with the Buddha's teachings.
 
THUNDER
When we start Buddhist training we often experience difficulty in listening to, hearing and following the still, small voice of our True Heart. Yet through our perseverance, one day the Voice will thunder and the rain of the Dharma, the Water of the Spirit, will pour in abundance, washing away all dust. Rev. Master Jiyu describes in the Lotus Blossom this cleansing of all notions of self, of attachments and ideas which cause us to feel separate from our True Nature. We are refreshed as if reborn. This new life is the Child of Buddha, the unblemished, energetic life of spring. With the fire of passions extinguished, the air this life breathes will be cool and fresh as a spring breeze. This Baby Buddha must be nurtured in a Womb with all-accepting tenderness, the Tathagata-womb, the Old Woman. It is thanks to Her activity, Her help that all hindrances to a free and fresh life are removed.

THUNDERBOLT – INDESTRCTABILITY
Just as the diamond is hard, so the Buddha's teachings are indestructible. The power of the thunderbolt is similar to the power of the Buddha's message that has the power to cut through ignorance and lead all beings to enlightenment.

TIGER –
In both Chinese and Tibetan medicine, various parts of the tiger are thought to possess powerful properties. He is the symbol of strength, fearlessness, and military power. The flayed skin is often used as a seat or worn into battle.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the tiger is ridden by many deities, particularly those of a warlike nature. The riding of a tiger symbolizes the fearlessness of the deity.

TREE – TRINITY OF LIFE, KNOWLEDGE, NIRVANA
The tree is a pervasive symbol in Buddhism and has particular associations with the Buddha's life. It is said the Buddha was born in a grove in Lumbini, his mother standing up and leaning against a tree to give birth. The Buddha won enlightenment sitting under the Bodhi tree, in Bodh Gaya India and he died amongst a grove of sala trees in Kushinagara.

VAJRA – YIN/YANG - DIAMOND
In Vajrayana Buddhism, the vajra is a diamond (but can also be translated as thunderbolt). It symbolizes what are seen to be essential qualities of Buddhism. Just as the diamond is hard, so the Buddha's teachings are indestructible. The power of the thunderbolt is similar to the power of the Buddha's message that has the power to cut through ignorance and lead all beings to enlightenment.

VASE – HOLDER OF TEACHINGS – LONGEVITY & PROSPERITY
The precious vase is a potent image in Buddhism and is one of the eight auspicious symbols. The vase contains treasure and so therefore holds the spiritual wealth that the Buddha's teachings offer. It can also signify longevity and prosperity.

VICTORY BANNER – SUCCESS
Symbolizes the victory of the Buddha and his teachings over greed, hatred and delusion. An early Buddhist motif meaning the enlightenment of the Buddha and the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, this symbol also is used to recall the Buddha’s triumph over his tempter, Samsara.

WHEEL – LIFE
The wheel is a very prominent symbol in Buddhism. It can refer to the wheel of life or samsara in which beings are born, die and are reborn according to their deeds. Samsara consists of six realms which are depicted as segments within the wheel. The wheel can also represent the Buddha's teachings and particularly the eightfold path. Such wheels are normally depicted with eight spokes, each spoke signifying one of the eight factors that comprise the noble eightfold path. In three parts, the wheel exists as a hub, the center of the world. The 8 spokes, denote the 8 paths to enlightenment. These 8 steps work together, not separately. MUST CLAP –
1. Right meditation
2. Right understanding/thought
3. Right speech
4. Right thought
5. Right concentration
6. Right livelihood
7. Right action
8. Right practice.
The rim represents the element of limitation. All are contained within a circle, which is perceived to be perfect and complete, like the teachings of the Buddha.

WHITE ELEPHANT –
White Elephant is a symbol of the strength of the mind. It serves as a symbol of the calm and tranquility possessed by those on the path to enlightenment. Specifically, he embodies the boundless powers of the Buddha.

great eagle
building a canal
long life god
chinac
chinab
ceiling art
chinaa
Quan Yin Mural

Kuan Yin, originally known as Avalokiteswara (the Goddess who regards), is a highly revered manifestation of the Buddha who appears in Chinese scriptures around 400 a.d. Kuan Yin means "one who hears the cries of the world" and personifies the compassion of the Buddha for the needy. She is the embodiment of the yin principle. She is usually represented as a young female deity but she has the power to assume whatever form necessary in order to carry out her vow which is to appear in any way necessary to lead beings out of suffering. She is often shown holding a vase containing the waters of compassion, the lotus flower of enlightment or the jewel of three treasures.
 
Avalokiteswara: Spiritual Theosophical Dictionary on Avalokiteswara
Avalokiteswara (Sanskrit) "The on-looking Lady" In the exoteric interpretation, she is Padmapani (the lotus bearer and the lotus-born) in Tibet, the first divine ancestor of the Tibetans, the complete incarnation or Avatar of Avalokiteswara; but in esoteric philosophy Avaloki, the "on-looker", is the Higher Self, while Padmapani is the Higher Ego or Manas.
 
The mystic formula "Om mani padme hum" is specially used to invoke their joint help. While popular fancy claims for Avalokiteswara many incarnations on earth, and sees in her, not very wrongly, the spiritual guide of every believer, the esoteric interpretation sees in her the Logos, both celestial and human.
 
Therefore, when the Yogacharya School has declared Avalokiteswara as Padmapani "to be the Dhyani Bodhisattva of Amitabha Buddha", it is indeed, because the former is the spiritual reflex in the world of forms of the latter, both being one - one in heaven, the other on earth.
 

sacred elephant
temple entrance

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