Individual Field Study Part B

Since Buddhism began, the religion has developed countless symbols and visual features that make it unique. All of these symbols help contribute to the beliefs held by followers of Buddhism. There are some things that all Buddhists believe and follow and there are other things that only certain Buddhists supporters believe. Buddhism is not a pessimistic or optimistic religion, it is realistic. Buddhists believe that the source of suffering is through one’s desire, hatred and ignorance. By easing these three things suffering can be alleviated. Another Buddhist belief is that of Karma, where everything that you do will affect the level at which you are reborn.

There are many important symbols that Buddhists believe in; one of these symbols is the crown. This reflects the sacred superiority of the Buddha wearing it. Diamond is another symbol used by Buddhists; it mirrors the fundamental qualities of Buddhism. As diamond is strong, so are the teachings of the Buddha. The lion is also a Buddhist symbol and it symbolizes might and supremacy. Buddhist teachings are often associated with a lion as an indication of their strength and power.

One of the biggest parts of Buddhist belief lies with the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. These eight symbols are what Buddhism is all about and they all have deep meanings. They reflect the beliefs and rituals of Buddhists and are a good indication of the key points in Buddhist teachings. The eight symbols are Conch Shell, Endless Knot, Golden Fish, Lotus, Parasol, Vase, Victory Banner and Wheel.

The first symbol, the Conch Shell, symbolizes the power of Buddhist teachings and it can also signify right speech. The Endless Knot symbolizes the connection between wisdom and compassion. The Golden Fish symbolise courage and contentment because in Buddhism the sea is associated with suffering and fish swim without drowning. The Lotus symbolises enlightenment and cleanliness, it has its roots in dirt but blossoms into a flower. This is compared with a person, who has potential no matter how good or bad they are now. The Parasol signifies Buddha’s spiritual power in protecting people from sin. The Vase is a potent image in Buddhism; it holds the spiritual wealth that the Buddha’s teachings offer. The Victory Banner symbolizes victory of the Buddha in teaching about greed, disgust and delusion. The Wheel is another major symbol in Buddhism, it symbolises the wheel of life and also the Eightfold Path.

In Buddhism, the way to eliminate suffering is to abolish desire and self-centredness. The way to achieve this is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path by Right Understanding, Right Thoughts, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. The first two paths allow you to gain wisdom; the next three involve morality and the last three-entail concentration. Buddhists believe that if a person strictly follows these directions they can achieve a state of ‘Nirvana’. The Noble Eightfold Path is commonly represented by a wheel with eight spokes, each representing one aspect. This is an easy to follow visual representation of the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddhist flag is a central symbol in Buddhist’s beliefs and it was invented in 1952. The flag has five colours: Blue, Yellow, Red, White, and Orange. Blue signifies loving kindness and peace. Yellow shows a mind free from greed, hatred and ignorance. Red indicates achievement, fortune, wisdom and dignity. White suggests purity and Orange reveals the essences of Buddhism, which are wisdom, strength and dignity. Generally, the Buddhist flag signifies that there is no discrimination in the Buddhist religion and that anyone can be accepted.

Sakyamini Buddha is another important Buddhist symbol. An important part of ritual in Buddhism is that when Buddhists worship statues of Buddha, they are not in fact worshipping the statue, but a symbolic reminder of Buddha. Such statues are a medium for intense meditation and motivation.

Another very important part of Buddhism involves meditation. This ritual is of extreme importance for followers of Buddhism. Meditation can allow people to develop a peaceful and focused mind; this process is essential in gaining wisdom and enlightenment. By observing the Buddhist ritual of meditation, followers can gain strong knowledge of Buddhism and work towards achieving enlightenment.

All of these symbols and