Humans have created symbols more than half a millennium ago which communicate their values, ideas, and reflect profound concepts through imagery. The symbols are not only a way to communicate, but they also have a marvelous personal identity which represents something difficult to explain, as if this imagery spoke to us on a spiritual level. Furthermore, that is why sometimes we feel heavenly calm, or that we find our faith through an object or a person, or that we suddenly recall our spiritual strength while looking at certain symbols. A symbol can literally lead the way while helping one’s journey, and each icon represents its own specificity. Without further ado, we invite you to explore the significance and history behind sacred imagery and its symbols.
8 Tibetan Auspicious Symbols
In Tibetan Buddhism, the 8 images belows are considered as the most sacred of all. We believe that these symbols can attract good luck in your life and each represents the different Buddhist philosophy as following :
- The Parasol means “Protection and Shelter”, or Shield that prevents us from greediness and lustfulness.
- The Golden Fish means “Joy and Liberation”, “Liberation from Samsara”, and “The cycle of life: birth, death and rebirth”
- The Conch Shell means “Awakeness from Ignorance” because in the past the Conch Shell was used to call believers to prayer.
- The Lotus means “Enlightenment”, we are all a lotus who tried to blossom through teaching of Buddhism.
- The Urn means “Abundance of Wisdom”, as knowledge is endless
- The Infinite Knot means “Buddha’s Infinite Compassion” and “interconnectedness of all things in universe”
- The Banner means “Victory”, or overcoming obstacles that impede the way to enlightenment.
- The Wheel or Dharmachakra means “Summary of Buddha’s Principles”, or “Buddha’s Eightfold Path” that leads disciplines to enlightenment.
Buddha “The Awakened One”
Reminding of “The Awakened One”, the Buddha or Lord Siddhārtha (his original name) was born as a prince of the Sakyas. Although living a pleasant and rich life, he was bored of worthless luxuriousness and had witnessed the inevitable sufferings in life : sickness, decrepitude and death. He wanted to find true happiness and to be free from suffering. Therefore, he decided to renounce his title and to practice asceticism for the purpose of seeking a path to liberation.
Decades after, he had eventually reached enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree and liberated himself from Samsara (which means endless cycle of life). For the rest of his life, the Buddha taught others how they could reach the same state of liberation. From there on, Buddha’s image still reminds us of his story and all teaching of Buddhism.
Bodhi Leaf “Emblem of Enlightenment”
Bodhi Leaf demonstrates “Emblem of Enlightenment”. The origin is from the life story of the Buddha. He has been meditating under a Bodhi tree for 49 days before achieving enlightenment. Therefore, the Bodhi tree and the Bodhi leaf have become symbols of awakening and state of enlightenment.
Dragon “Benevolent and Sacred Beasts”
The Dragon is a well-known imaginary creature around the world. For the western world, the dragon is often described as a ferocious monster according to St. George’s famous battle in the bible. while in the East the dragon is considered as a “Benevolent Beast”. Especially for chinese people, they believe that the dragon is an auspicious creature and it symbolizes strength and prosperity. According to Chinese, Japanese and Korean folktales, dragons live in water realms and they are guardians of rivers, oceans and rain. In Hinduism and Buddhism, they call the water dragons “Naga” (mythical serpent).
Dream Catcher or “Sacred Hoop” has its origin from Ojibwe and Lakota tribes, indigenous people of the United States. Dream Catchers are made from Native American wood crafted with a net in the center like a spider web. Tribal elders created and decorated this sacred hoop, then hung it over a cradle or child’s bed. Local people believe that this sacred hoop can protect children from nightmares and bring them a good dream via the net’s hole. Nowadays, dream catchers are used as everyday jewelry. It becomes a symbol of good luck and a sacred jewelry which helps trap all negative energies that could harm the owner.
Ganesh “The Remover of Obstacles and Symbol of Wisdom”
Ganesh is one of the most worshipped Gods in Hinduism and very famous in Buddhism as well. Ganesh has many different forms but he is widely identified by his elephant head, human body and rotund belly. Best-Known for his kindness, Ganesh is widely revered as the remover of obstacles and some believers consider him as the god of good fortune who helps us achieve desired success.
Kuan Yin “Goddess of Mercy and Compassion”
Kuan Yin (or Kwan Yin or Guan Yin) appeared in Chineses scriptures around 400 CE. She is referred to as the female manifestation of Avalokitesvara. According to Buddhist traditions, Kuan Yin is a goddess (the bodhisattva) of compassion who shows unconditional love, kindness and mercy to all living beings. She has an ability to protect us from dangers, heal all diseases, and take care of women and children. When you just glance at her graceful face, you may find your comfort and feel calm in your heart.
Om “The Sound of Creation”
Om is a sacred and spiritual symbol in indian religions, referring to the first emitted sound after the universe was completely created from nothing. We consider “Om” as a primordial vibration and our connection to the divinity. For better understanding, Om is similar to Amen for christians or to Amin for muslims. Therefore Om is often used for meditation and personal ritual because of its facility to recite and of course auspicious power.
Yin Yang “Balance is Beautiful”
Yin Yang is a form of circle separated in two halves by a curved line. One half is black with a little white dot (Yin side), and the other is white with a little black dot (Yang side). This symbol is related to Taoist philosophy about the equality of powerful opposing energies. That means neither is superior and one cannot live without the other. For example, the water and our Earth, or the men and women of our world. As a final note, the most important key of nature is “balance and harmony”.