In our travels in Southeast Asia, seeing beautiful, serene statues of Buddha was a daily occurrence … and we never tired of it. Each sculpture was a work of art.
For the Faithful, Buddha’s different postures are symbolic and have distinct religious meanings. For instance, long earlobes are associated with wisdom, because people with large ears can listen well.
The position of Buddhas’s hands, called “mudras,” is also significant. There are literally hundreds of them, each with a precise meaning. The common pose with the legs crossed, the left hand in the lap, and the right hand pointing to the ground with the palm facing inward toward the Buddha, is the “Calling the Earth to Witness,” which represents the moment of enlightenment.
A standing or sitting Buddha with both palms facing forward is the Teaching Buddha.
Both hands resting face up in the lap, with ankles tucked is the Meditation Buddha, signifying inner wisdom, emotional balance, and clarity.
This statue is the Alms Collecting Buddha, which signifies compassion and caring for all beings.
The Buddha in a reclining pose has reached enlightenment, lost all his desires, and is preparing to leave this world, to enter into Nirvana.
Buddhism is a tradition rich in symbolism, and every symbol has a meaning. And as a traveler unfamiliar with the religion, it helps to understand some of the inspirations that worshippers feel when they pray to a beautiful statue of Buddha.