Have you ever wondered about and yet cannot figure out why there are so many mysterious, beautiful, and interesting images all over the place when you travel in Tibet? Symbolism plays heavily into Tibetan culture and Tibetan Buddhism, so many of the images and art that you see on your next Tibet trek actually have significance past their aesthetic appeal!
In Tibetan Buddhism, symbols are parts of everyday life and Buddhist art uses images to symbolize the Buddha and his teachings in its early stages of missionization. With the splendidly developed symbolic traditions in Tibet, the eight most prominent symbols came to be known as The Eight Auspicious Symbols.
This particular set of eight symbols is frequently painted or carved on all kinds of articles - household items and decorations, sacred Buddhist objects, and others, all intended to bring luck and protection from Buddha and to rid that space of evil spirits. These symbols are also indispensible in any kind of Tibetan religious ceremonies and rituals. In fact, if you are observant enough, you might be surprised by how frequently you see them as you travel in Tibet.
The Eight Auspicious Symbols are each believed to represent one physical form of Buddha and one aspect of the Buddhist teachings. They can appear individually or incorporated into intricate designs, and it is even believed that their power is multipled when they appear together. Here is a brief introduction to the first four of the Eight Auspicious Symbols:
1. Lotus flower. The lotus flower, one of Tibet's most revered and ubiquitous symbols, represents purity and enlightenment. The growth of the lotus from mud and subsequent blossoming in the sunshine symbolizes the progress of the soul and mind through the mud of materialism into the sunshine of enlightenment.
2. Infinite Knot. The infinite knot symbolizes the mutual dependence of religious doctrine and secular affairs. Similarly, it represents the union of wisdom and method, the inseparability of emptiness, and finally, at the time of enlightenment, the complete union of wisdom and great compassion.
3. Golden Fish pair. This symbol of two fish represents conjugal happiness and freedom. The two fish standing vertically with heads turned to each other denotes good fortune, fertility and salvation. In Tibetan Buddhism the fish symbolize happiness and fertility, conjugal unity, and fidelity, and are often given as a wedding present.
Check back for our follow-up piece, where we will look at the remaining 4 of Tibetan Buddhism's Eight Auspicious Symbols. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.