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Buddha Statues and Buddhist Symbolism
Buddhism is known around the world and is a world religion with followers from many countries. It was founded in India more than 2,500 years ago by Siddhartha Gautama who is believed to have been the son of a wealthy family and a prince. While his own life was easy and trouble-free, he saw the suffering going on around him and made a decision to give up his luxuries and become poor. However, this didn’t make him feel fulfilled, so he chose to exist by living between the two lifestyles by not enjoying or being part of any social group, but also accepting he would not live with deprivation.
Although Buddhism is mainly practiced in Southeast Asia and the East, it has become more and more popular in the West, with many of the ideas and philosophies associated with Buddhism linked to other faiths.
The belief of anyone practicing or following Buddhism is that there is not a single God or supreme being. Even the founder Buddha is not considered a God, although he is considered to be an extraordinary person. A Buddhist believes their focus should be on becoming enlightened in order to achieve inner peace and wisdom. When they reach this place in their mind, it is known as having experienced "nirvana."
A Buddhist believes that the way to find their truth is through meditation and wisdom. The religion is constantly changing and developing, with many people interpreting its meanings in different ways. Some people don’t see it as a religion at all and instead prefer to see it as a way of life.
Buddhism focuses on what are known as the Four Noble Truths, and these principles teach followers how to overcome suffering. They are:
The truth of suffering
The truth and cause of suffering
The truth and end of suffering
The truth of the oath that frees us from suffering
Buddhists believe in the concept of karma, which is a law or force of nature that causes an individual to "reap what they sow." They also believe in reincarnation and a continuous rebirth cycle.
Anyone who is following a Buddhism lifestyle can worship in their own home or in a temple.
There isn’t a single symbol that represents a Buddhist, but many images are associated with the beliefs, including the lotus flower and the dharma wheel with eight spokes. Another symbol associated with Buddhism is the Bodhi tree. It is believed that after searching for six years, Gautama found enlightenment while he was meditating under a Bodhi Tree and spent 49 days meditating there without moving. Later, a shrine was erected in the place where he sat. When he died in 483 BC, a religious movement was formed by his followers and his teachings were used as the foundation to create Buddhism. The movement spread, but in the 6th century, the Huns attacked India, destroying many Buddhist monasteries before being forced to retreat.
Buddha statues are usually in one of three positions: standing, reclining or sitting. Each posture has a different meaning, and each gesture and position of the hand represents a teaching, an enlightenment, a wisdom or a meditation.
The reclining Buddha is thought to represent the final stages of life.
The sitting Buddha is either meditating or teaching.
The standing Buddha is arriving to teach, having reached his own nirvana.
The Buddha symbol is well recognized and has become fashionable over recent years, appearing on clothing, household goods and jewelry. Many people believe a Buddha can offer protection. Moreover, some people believe that if they see a Buddha, it has actually found them somehow and is trying to tell them something about the way they are living their lives and wants to help them reach clarity. This Protector Buddha Fleece Sweatshirt is available in different colors and sizes.
Types of Buddhism
There are three types of Buddhism that tend to be followed, depending on where in the world Buddhism is being practiced.
Theravada Buddhism is popular in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Burma. Mahayana Buddhism is very prevalent in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan, and Tibet Buddhism is practiced in Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan as well as northern India, certain parts of Russia and Tibet.
Buddhists believe The Dalai Lama is born again to help humanity. There have been 14 Dalai Lamas in history, and the current Dalai Lama is Lhamo Thondup.