Gemstones and jewellery have been a part of mankind culture since before history was written. As global interest in the Buddha’s teachings is growing, it’s normal to bring Buddhist concepts into every aspect of our life, including the type of jewellery we wear.
Bellow we give the explanation of some of the Buddhist imagery you might find on Buddhist pendants, rings or earrings and what they mean.
1 – Buddha
Wearing items bearing the image of Buddha can remind us to be like Buddha in our daily life. Such items may also encourage us to be more patient in approach, kind in nature and cultivate thoughts of peace and non-violence.
It is recommended to purchase pendants that depict the whole of Buddha’s body due to the importance of the symbolism rather than just his head and hands. In most cases, the Buddha will be depicted in meditation posture or the earth-touching posture, which symbolizes the time the Buddha called the Earth to witness, prior to his Enlightenment.
2 – Lotus
The lotus flower has been a respected symbol of purity, beauty, and rebirth. It has been hailed as a representation of how difficulties and trials can bring forth a majestic transformation in a person as he or she is honed and moulded into the beauty they are today. A perfect emblem gives a profound significance. It shows that there is more to beauty than what meets the eye.
Wearing a lotus pendant reminds us of the opportunities that each day gives us for our qualities like wisdom, compassion, happiness and love. Just like the lotus grows from a muddy pond, spiritual qualities can also blossom from the mud of suffering. Irrespective of whatever difficulties we face in life, we must always choose to practice positive states of mind like compassion and tolerance. It may take time just like the lotus takes to grow from darkness and mud, but our mind will soon become beautiful and bright and will be a source of our awakening.
Often Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are portrayed as being seated or standing on lotuses. This symbolizes that just like the muddy water does not interfere with the lotus petals, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can remain in Samsara or universe to benefit the living beings without being polluted by their faults.
3 – Wheel of Dharma
The wheel of Dharma or the Dharmachakra is a symbol of Buddha’s teachings. It is a wheel with eight spokes that indicate the Noble Eightfold Path. The center of the wheel is separated into three parts which represent the three jewels; Buddha, dharma and sangha. The circular shape of the wheel symbolizes the doctrine of continued rebirth till one attains awakening.
The Buddha is believed to have an impression of a thousand-spoke wheel on each of his soles of his hands and feet. The Dharmachakra is considered as one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols associated with the Buddha.
4 – Eternal Knot
The Eternal Knot is one of the eight auspicious symbols associated with the Buddha. It represents Buddha’s mind and the eternal continuity of mind. It indicates that our mind has neither any beginning nor any end.
5 – Om Mani Padme Hung
These Sanskrit syllables are part of the sacred mantra of compassion. When one recites this mantra, it awakens and cultivates greater compassion within oneself. Om Ma Ni Pad Me Hum is the most common mantra in Tibet, recited by Buddhists, painted or carved on rocks, prayer wheels, or yak skulls and seen around Tibet very commonly.
According to Tibetan culture, it is said that all the teachings of Buddha are contained in this mantra, and that to know the phrase is to know enlightenment. Tibetan people, who are almost all Buddhists, believe that it is excellent to practice the mantra of Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion (the protective deity of Tibet), which may relieve negative karma, accumulate merit, help rescue them from the sea of suffering and achieve Buddhahood.
6 – Vajra
According to the Hindu mythology, Vajra is the weapon of Indra, the thunder deity. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Vajra’ means both thunderbolt and diamond. It is told that the weapon Vajra possesses the indestructibility of the diamond and irresistible force of the thunderbolt.
The Vajra is said to have the ability to open stargates to other planets. The Vajrayana Buddhism adopted the symbol of Vajra and transformed it into the symbol of peace. It is told that the Buddha himself took the weapon from Indra and closed the prongs to convert it into a peaceful sceptre.
Wearing a Vajra is believed to remind us to practice compassion in all situations. A double Vajra symbolizes the principle of absolute stability. The image of double Vajra is printed on a meditation cushion to indicate stability that is attained through meditation.
So, the next time you plan to buy Buddhist jewelry, do give a thought on its purpose and the significance that it carries with itself.