Have you ever wondered what the eight symbols represent on the front of our Buddha alter?
They are eight Auspicious or lucky symbols that can be used for a point of focus for meditation and contemplation. Each one has a different meaning, symbolising a different aspect of Buddhist teachings, which reveals our progress along the path to enlightenment.
First Auspicious Symbol: Two Golden Fish
They symbolise harmony and peace. They can also represent fearlessness.It can symbolise that living beings who practice Buddha’s teachings ( dharma) have no fear , like fish , of drowning in the ocean of suffering.
Lesson: We should always try to live in harmony and peace with others. Strive to be free from ignorance and fear.
Second Auspicious Symbol: The Endless Knot
This is a geometric diagram which symbolises the interrelated nature of reality. Having no beginning or end . The Illusionary character of time and long life.
The knot of eternity is a symbol of Buddha’s realisation of endless wisdom and compassion. It represents Buddha’s mind and our own minds.
Lesson: we should apply great effort to attain enlightenment
Third Auspicious Symbol: The Victory Banner
This symbolises the victory over the activities of ones own body speech and mind.
It can also represent buddhas abandonment of delusions and mistaken appearances. The victory banner also symbolises triumph over negative emotions. Today, the banner is typically found as a flag on the roof of temples as a sign of victory. The victory banner also relates to knowledge and wisdom, and encompasses compassion and ethics which are traits that come from the heart.
Lesson: let us be victorious over the enemy our delusions.
Fourth Auspicious Symbol: The Dharma Wheel
The wheel represents the wheel of life and is a metaphor for the rapid spiritual change that happens through the teachings of the Buddha. It has eight spokes symbolising the Nobel eight fold path. Which is- right view, right thought,right speech, right action, right livelihood,right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. The wheel also represent the endless cycle of death and rebirth called samsara .As the wheel of dharma is turned it awakens the Buddha’s potential that is in all of us.
Lesson: Once we gave gained wisdom and enlightenment we should help others to be liberated by passing on the teachings.
Fifth Auspicious Symbol: The Conch Shell
This symbolises the far reaching melodious sounds of the Buddha teachings , it’s call is to awaken others from the slumber of ignorance and uges them to accomplish there own and others warfare. It is also a symbol of truthful speech and represents courage, power and sovereignty.In Buddhism, being truthful goes beyond simply not telling lies. It means speaking truthfully and honestly, But it also means using speech to benefit others, and not to use it to benefit only ourselves. It comes from compassion rooted in wisdom.
Lesson: I allow my truthful speech to arise naturally from selflessness and concern for others. I notice that I can’t be honest with others until I am honest with myself.
Sixth Auspicious Symbol: The Parasol
This is a symbol of protection from illness, obstacles, harmful energies and suffering experienced in the three lower realms of existence. It teaches us that the teachings will protect us from destructive emotions and obstacles like suffering, illness and harm. Other meanings attach the parasol to prosperity and nobility – because only rich people could afford such accessories back in the day. Furthermore, umbrellas protect the holder from the intense heat of the sun.
Lesson: Once we become enlightened with wisdom, we liberate our minds and free ourselves from the bondages of life, traps we typically fall into when wandering round in a state of ignorance. Our society is designed to evoke desire. The Buddha says that all desire leads to defilement which leads to suffering. Becoming enlightened with knowledge protects us from suffering.
Seventh Auspicious Symbol: The Lotus Flower
This flower grows from the murky depths of a deep dark swamp, it symbolises purity and renunciation. It represents purification of the mind and heart and the development of wisdom, virtues man must develop to attainment of enlightenment. The lotus flower reflects human consciousness and experience, from the muddy roots of base consciousness to the higher realms of divine awareness. It symbolises the journey of man’s development and our quest for enlightenment.The closed petals of the lotus flower represent the potential for personal growth, an opportunity to reach enlightenment. The open petals represent full enlightenment. The eight petals of the lotus flower is symbolic of higher consciousness.
Lesson : Like the lotus flower we too can rise up through samsara to the clarity of enlightenment.
Eighth Auspicious Symbol: The Vase
This precious vase is filled with many scared things and no matter how much is taken out it is always full, inexhaustible treasures. This symbolises the bountiful treasure of the buddhas teachings and means long life and prosperity.
Lesson: When we know the true symbolic meaning of the treasure vase, we have valuable knowledge from which we can draw inspiration and connect with our inner-Buddha.