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 BASIC BUDDHISM

Buddhist Symbols

Lotus flower

A symbol of enlightenment. It grows from mud and water into the sunlight, just as we can become enlightened like the Buddha.

Dharma wheel

The Dharma wheel is a symbol of the continuous teachings of the Buddha. The eight spokes represent the Noble Eightfold Path. This reminds Buddhists of eight good ways to try to live.

Bodhi tree

The Bodhi tree represents the fig tree at Bodh Gaya, under which Siddhartha became enlightened. Bodhi means “enlightenment.”

Buddhist flag

The colors of the flag symbolize the six rays of light that shone around the Buddha after his enlightenment. The waving of the flag is a sign of
hope that all nations will live happily under the shelter of the Buddha’s wisdom. 

Prayer wheels

Mantras are written inside the prayer wheels. When the prayer wheels turn, the mantras are repeated again and again to purify our karma. Some prayer wheels are tiny and turned by hand, while others are huge and turned by the wind.

Tibetan prayer flags

Mantras, repeated sounds, are written on the flags. The idea is that the wind will carry the compassionate meanings of the mantras throughout the world to all beings.

Traditional offerings for the altar and their symbolic meanings:

Flowers: enlightenment
Light    : wisdom
Incense: peace
Water   : purity
Food    : generosity

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