Full of exuberance, Happy Buddha is often mistaken for Siddhārtha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. But the image of Happy Buddha is actually based on a wandering Chinese monk, Budai (Hotei, in Japanese), who lived centuries ago.
Happy Buddha is believed to be Maitreya, or the Buddha to come. His plump figure and benign countenance suggest magnanimity and plenitude. Also called Laughing Buddha, his signature smile is symbolic of pure joy. Happy Buddha is considered a symbol of good luck, and it is thought that rubbing his big head or belly brings fortune and wealth. At the same time, his walking stick and satchel remind us to pay attention to the journey before us, not just the destination.
A Jewish symbol which was originally known as the Shield of David with two triangles overlapping each other in either direction ultimately forming a star. These two triangles symbolize the connection between God and Man or union between male and female.
Widely used in occult circles and Kabbalistic practices, the Star of David represents the union of opposites like fire and water. There are various studies that defy this significance of divine connection and believe that it instead represents the 6 directions in space: Up, down, east, west, north, south, and center (the space in the center of the star).
Originated from the Native Americans, the Earth Medicine Wheel represents harmony. It is also an attempt to establish peaceful interaction amidst the four elements of the Earth. People use it to manifest spiritual energy and strengthen their inner vision.
It is also known as the Sacred Hoop or Sacred Circle used among Native Americans since so many generations for healing and teaching, both simultaneously. There are many interpretations about the medicine wheel but each of them establishes a connection with the cosmic things.
Triple Spiral also is known as The Tirade or Triskele, represented by three spirals connected by one line representing the flow of time. Each spiral symbolizes earthly life, the afterlife and finally reincarnation.
The triple spiral that relates to the elements of Earth, Water, Sky, Body, Mind, and spirit, is found in Celtic arts and architecture. While it’s inception dates back to the Neolithic era since it is found at the entrance of Newgrange, Ireland.
The 8 spokes of the Dharma Wheel represent the 8 paths of Enlightenment which can help you achieve Nirvana. It is one of the oldest Buddhist symbols that details wisdom in the Buddhist tradition.
Each spoke of this Dharma Wheel represents exclusive teaching as follows: right livelihood, right speech, right intention, right action, right efforts, right mindfulness, right consciousness, and right view. Also known as the ‘Wheel of Law’, it’s existence dates back to 2500 B.C. which is older than Buddhism itself.
Om Mani Padme Hum is a mantra of benevolence and is often recited to inspire compassion. The syllable “Om” represents the body, spirit, and speech of Buddha; “Mani” is for the path of teaching; “Padme” for the wisdom of the path, and “Hum” indicates the union of wisdom and the path to it. Though commonly associated with Tibetan Buddhism, meditators across various practices find this mantra inspiring. Compassion, after all, isn’t exclusive to any one belief system.
A ritual tool used for spiritual worship, the Vajra scepter is a combination of two powerful symbols: the diamond and the lightning bolt. The diamond, a substance which cuts but cannot be cut, represents resolute spirit. The lightning bolt, with its overwhelming force, represents great power. Together they represent compassion, the most powerful force of all and the ultimate path to enlightenment.
The Vajra sometimes appears as a Double Vajra, also known as Visvavajra. Depicted as an X or shown in vertical form (like a plus sign), it represents the indestructible foundation of the universe. The Double Vajra also stands for protection, harmony, and all-knowingness.
The hamsa symbol depicts an open right hand, symmetrically drawn, and often with an eye in the palm’s center. Seen throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, it’s also known as the Hand of Fatima and the Hand of Miriam. The hamsa represents strength and power and is widely regarded as a token of protection. Worn as an amulet or hung in the home, the hamsa is said to ward off the Evil Eye, a malevolent stare which brings harm and misfortune.
No one is entirely sure of the hamsa’s origins. Some date it back to the ancient Phoenicians, who used hands to represent the lunar goddess, Tanit. Today, it holds significance in multiple traditions. In Judaism, its five fingers represent the five books of the Torah. In Islam, they stand for the Five Pillars of Islam. The hamsa is also reminiscent of Buddhist and Hindu mudras, with the five fingers representing the five senses.
Jizo is a Bodhisattva in Japanese Mahayana Buddhism, originally known in Sanskrit as Ksitigarbha. He is worshipped primarily in East Asia, where statues of his likeness can be spotted on roadsides. He is often depicted as a shaven-headed monk with child-like features and a large cloak.
Revered for his self-sacrifice, Jizo is said to have delayed nirvana in order to help others. He is a guardian of travelers and firefighters. He keeps watch over the souls of children, especially those who pass away before their parents.
Visitors to Buddhist stupas in Nepal cannot help but notice the huge pair of eyes painted around the main towers. These are the “Eyes of the Buddha” that stare out in all four directions, a dramatic symbol of the Buddha’s all knowing, all seeing gaze.
Between the Wisdom Eyes, as they are also known, is a curving symbol that resembles a question mark. This is Nepali for the number 1. It symbolizes the oneness of the universe and denotes the one path towards enlightenment – this being the teachings of the Buddha. The mark is also the Buddha’s ‘third eye’, a symbol of his wisdom and infinite perception.