Postures of the Buddha

Large_Chiang_Saen_Buddha_Statue

View all Buddha Statues from Lotus Sculpture

The Buddha is often depicted within art and sculpture holding many different poses or postures.  A lot of times these poses include specific hand gestures as well as positioning of the legs.  Many people wonder the meanings behind these certain hand gestures and seated positions.  The Buddha is often seen with either his ankles tucked, called the Double Lotus position, or with one leg resting atop the other which is called a Single Lotus position.  These seated positions are in combination with certain hand gestures called Mudras.

One such posture that is commonly seen is the Buddha sitting with crossed legs (Double Lotus) and both hands resting palms up upon his knees.  This stance represents meditation and is the most common posture due to the Buddha’s enlightenment through meditation underneath the Bodhi Tree.  This stance, called the Meditation Buddha, represents inner wisdom, emotional stability, and clarity of the mind.

Another important posture is that of the Buddha with legs crossed (Double Lotus), left hand resting face up within his lap, and right hand pointing to the ground with his palm facing towards him.  This pose is regarded as the Buddha calling the earth as witness to the moment he reached enlightenment.  This stance, called the Enlightenment Buddha, signifies gaining insight, achieving great character, and having self-discipline.

Here are a few more common postures of the Buddha:

Protection Buddha: The Buddha sits in either Double or Single Lotus position with right hand raised facing outward and left hand in the lap.  This position represents having courage and offers the bearer protection against fear, delusion, and anger.

Teaching_Budda

Teaching Buddha Statue

Teaching Buddha: The Buddha sits in a Double Lotus position with hands up at chest level.  His hands form a circle by joining thumbs and index fingers with the right palm facing in and the left facing out.  This position brings about wisdom, understanding, and finding the truth behind your life’s path.

Contemplation Buddha:  The Buddha stands with legs together and both arms against the chest, palms in, and right hand on top of the right.    This pose represents patient understanding.

View all Buddha Statues from Lotus Sculpture

10 Famous Buddhist Temples Around the World: Part 2

5) Boudhanath: Located within Kathmandu Nepal, Boudhanath boasts on of the largest stupas in the world.  Kathmandu is the most prominent city within Buddhist Nepal and this temple is often visited regularly by the devout.  The Boudhanath temple is best known for the Buddha eyes located on each side of the temple.

Boudhanath-temple-nepal

Boudhanath Temple, Nepal

4) Mahabodhi Temple: Translated to mean the Great Enlightement, the Mahabodhi is a large Buddhist temple located in India.  It is said that a portion of the temple holds a related tree to the original tree sat under by Siddhartha Gautama during his enlightenment.  For this reason the Mahabodhi temple is thought to be one of the most sacred sites within the Buddhist religion.  The current temple still stands from the 5th century.

3) Shwedagon Pagoda: Named the Golden Shrine, the Shwedagon Pagoda is the most sacred shrines in Burma.  What makes this temple so striking is the 326 feet high main stupa which is entirely covered in gold.

shwedagon-pagoda-temple

Shwedagon Pagoda Temple, Burma

2) Bagan: This sacred site is not simply known for just one temple, but its collection of many pagodas, stupas, and ancient ruins.  At its peak it was a center for Buddhist teaching and scholarship.

1) Borobudur:  Borobudur is the largest and most famous Buddhist temple in the entire world.  It took almost a hundred years to completed during the 8th and 9th centuries   After being abandoned in the 14th century it lay hidden underneath a great layer of volcanic ash for hundreds of years.

borobudaur-temple

Borobudur Temple

10 Famous Buddhist Temples Around the World: Part 1

If you are a wandering soul with a deep inclination towards travel, there are many very beautiful Buddhist temples throughout the world worth seeing in person.  These beautiful sites often include gorgeous statuary of the Buddha.  Although few original temples still stand from the date of construction, many still hold very ancient roots from rebuilding.  Here are 5 renowned Buddhist sites located about the world.

10) Haeinsa Temple: known as the ‘Temple of Reflection upon a Smooth Sea’.  This Buddhist temple located in South Korea is was first built in 1802.  Although a fire devastated most of the temple and its artifacts, a complete copy of Buddhist scriptures written upon 81,258 woodblocks was one of the few items to survive.  The temple was rebuilt to its former glory in the latter half of the 1800’s.

Haeinsa Temple in Korea

9) Wat Arun: the Temple of Dawn.  Wat Arun, located in Bangkok Thailand is an architectural masterpiece modeled after Mount Meru, the center of Buddhist cosmology.  It is one of the oldest landmarks standing in Bangkok.

8) Pha That Luang: the Great Stupa in Laos.  One of the most prominent landmarks in Laos, the tiered temple boosts several terraces, each representing a stage in the process of enlightenment.  Destroyed in 1828 it was later rebuilt by the French in 1931.

Pha That Luang in Laos

7) Jokhang:  Although not quite as extravagant as say Pha That Luang in Laos, Jokhang Temple in the holy city of Lhasa is one of the most important sites for Tibetan Buddhists.  Thousands flock in religious pilgrimage to the temple each year.  The temple was first constructed in the 6th century.  Although the Mongols sacked the temple on countless occasions, by way of miracle it still stands.

Jokhang Temple in Tibet

6) Todaiji:  the Great Eastern Temple.  Todaiji is one of the most famous Buddhist temples located in Japan.  Built in the 7th century by the emperor it was proclaimed to be the head Buddhist temple in all of Japan.  Few of the original buildings still stand although the Great Hall dates back to 1709 when it was rebuilt.

If travel is not in your near feature, you can bring home your very own handcrafted Buddha statute made by local artisans throughout Asia.  View all Buddha statues from Lotus Sculpture.

The Two Schools of Buddhism: Mahayana & Theravada

Many do not know that there are two major schools of thought within Buddhism.  Just as Christianity is split into different sects such as Catholicism and Protestantism, so too is the Buddhist Religion.  These two differing schools are known as Theravada and Mahayana.

View all Stone Garden Buddha Statues from Lotus Sculpture

Theravada Buddhism is a school of thought that stresses the need to follow the teachings of elders.  They believe that the longer practicing monks have gained more wisdom; therefore their teachings should be very highly regarded.  Younger Theravada monks are passed on with teachings of those that came before them.  The main goal of those who practice Theravada Buddhism is to become free of suffering.  Shedding the chains of suffering is the ultimate attainment in their eyes.  Typically Theravada is practiced in more eastern areas of Asia such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma.

Mahayana Buddhism on the other hand stresses the importance of following the Buddhas teachings to go out into the world and spread the Dharma to others.  They are much more teaching oriented, believing that one’s own worship is just as important as spreading wisdom on to others.  Mahayana literally translates to mean ‘the Great Vehicle’ which is metaphor for the spreading of Buddhist teachings throughout the world.  Mahayana monks are a vehicle for knowledge, passing that knowledge unto others.  These monks are known as Bodhisattvas.  Mahayana Buddhism is mostly practiced in countries such as China, Tibet, Vietnam, and Japan.

Although these schools of thought originate and are practiced widely in the Far East, both schools have made their way into the west.  Many westerners may choose one school over the other in their practice, or take principles and examples from both.  Both schools are centered around the same teachings but hold special importance on ways to live and practice, one focusing more on individual practice, and the other more on teaching to others.

Assassination Attempts on the Great Gautama Buddha

It is little known that during Gautama Buddha’s life on earth, he was not completely free of dissenters and discord.  Despite his serene and patient practice, Gautama was not without threat.  Just as every great spiritual or powerful leader in earth’s history, he faced jealous followers wanting to take his place in the world.    It is said that Gautama’s cousin, a monk by the name of Devadatta, was the worst of them all, attempting to take Gautama’s life on multiple occasions.  Legend has it, out of jealousy, Devadatta tried to undermine the Buddha and declared that he be given the chance to lead the sangha.  When this proved unsuccessful he tried to kill the great teacher to claim his following for himself.

View all Buddha Statues from Lotus Sculpture

His first attempt involved hiring a group of archers to shoot at Buddha during his meditations, but as they approached the Buddha, they became overcome and began laying down their bows.  Instead of shooting, the archers now devoted themselves to him instead.  As one might imagine, this only served to anger Devadatta more.  In his next attempt Devadatta himself rolled a great boulder down a hill directly in Gautama’s path.  Luckily, the boulder split in two along the way with one half only grazing the divine Buddha’s foot.  Again diminished, Devadatta let loose a violent elephant to trample Buddha and everyone around him.  As all his murderous plots proved unsuccessful, Devadatta began to form breakaway following, attempting to recruit the Buddha’s followers for himself.  Although he managed to claim a handful, they all eventually made their way back to the Awakened one.

It is hard to believe that the great Awakened One could be met with disdain by any.  But just as every great spiritual leader, there were those who threatened to undermine his teachings.