Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tattoo Tuesday - Buddhist Symbols

The act of getting a tattoo means many different things to many different people. For this week's post, I want to focus on the spiritual connection felt from this form of body art. The overall process can be a powerful experience: a deep level of commitment, offering of one's body, physical pain, emotional endurance, etc. Done purposely and consciously, having symbolic icons and patterns incorporated onto your body is your way of making a quiet agreement to accept these meanings into your mind, being and spirit for life. It is a permanent and visual reminder of your devotion, power and beliefs. Specifically, I would like to focus on Buddhism and symbolic Buddhist tattoos.

Gautama Buddha, or just Buddha, was a spiritual teacher and leader from India. His teachings brought about Buddhism which is a religion and philosophy mainly practiced in Southeast Asia, specifically parts of India. Buddha means "the awakened one" or "the enlightened one."

  The Bodhi Tree is the tree under which Buddha was said to achieve enlightenment. Tree worship was already present in Indian culture, so using the Bodhi Tree as a devotional symbol was a natural occurrence. This tree can symbolize being grounded - rooted to solid ground personally, emotionally, spiritually and professionally. There's also the idea of a cycle, with the falling of leaves meaning an end and regrowth beginning all over again.

Ganesha is one of the most-known and widely worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and all Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to this deity extends to Jains, Buddhists and even beyond India. Although he is known through other attributes, Ganesha's elephant head makes him easy to identify.

Every stupa, or Buddhist shrine, contains pairs of eyes staring out from all four sides of the main tower. The mysterious eyes represent the eyes of the Buddha and face the four cardinal directions to symbolize the omniscience mind of Buddha. They are also known as the Wisdom Eyes.

"Om Mani Padme Hum" (roughly translated: 'Hail the jewel in the lotus') is a six syllable mantra popular among Buddhists. It is claimed one who recites this mantra will be saved from all dangers and also protected.

 
This symbol is actually a conveyance of sound - the sound of life. Emitting the relaxed "aaumm" sound from the vocal chords, is mimicking the harmonic tone of all creation. Theories argue that the core of existence vibrates at a set-point. From an abyss of nothingness a divine call is uttered. To be sure, the Om tattoo symbolism (tattoo above) conveys a reverence for life, an honor for creation and an understanding of the universe. Om is one of the most sacred of sounds to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. Om is a truly universal sound and is used in chants and during meditation.

 Lotus flowers are a symbol of purity and spontaneous generation, symbolize divine birth. According to Buddhism, the heart of a person is like an unopened lotus - when the virtues of the Buddha develop, the lotus blossoms. This is why it is common to see Buddha sitting on a lotus in bloom.

 The Dharma Wheel represents the Wheel of Buddhist Law and the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Modern versions of this wheel have four spokes that symbolize the Four Jinas, or moments, in the life of the Buddha. They are also depicted with eight spokes, or octagonal, symbolizing the Noble Eightfold Path. The spokes can even extend beyond the circle, in points.

This Buddha is most commonly known as The Laughing Buddha. He is usually depicted as a smiling, bald man with a largely exposed pot belly, representing happiness, good luck and plenitude. Placing a Laughing Buddha statue or figurine in your home can bring wealth and fortune. He serves as a reminder to not work too hard or get greedy. 

The auspicious drawing, or endless knot, represents the union of wisdom and method. The inseparability of emptiness and dependent arising at the time of path. Also, at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.



Buddhist inspired tattoos have always been intriguing to me.
I see them a lot and I never took the time to look into their meanings, but I sure am glad I finally did.
Take it easy,
<3 oohv

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I know it's totally an old post for you, but I'm working on trying to expand my tattoos and these are some of my ideas all on one page!

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