Religious Buddhism Discussion Forum

Re: Helping a school boy
Posted by Y Chan on Thursday, 27 May 1999, at 8:08 p.m., in response to Helping a school boy, posted by sam king on Wednesday, 26 May 1999, at 1:28 a.m.
> Please tell me all about Buddhism symbols and other things
One of the most important Buddhist Sutra is the Saddharmapundarika Sutra, popularly known as Lotus Sutra. It lays down the foundation of Mahayana Buddhism and it describes in detail the role of Bodhisattvas (especially Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva of Compassion, or Guan Yin) in this old religion.
Why did the Lord Buddha designate an important document as the "Lotus Sutra?" Because to Him, the Lotus flower (scientific name: Nelumbo nucifera) is very beautiful and white in color which blossoms in muddy water. Its large white bloom is so outstanding in muddy water that it symbolizes the enlightened one in a world of ignorant beings. Therefore, the official symbol of Buddhism is the White Lotus Flower. (Reference: Microsoft Encarta 99)
Interesting Note on Lotus:
While Americans and Europeans ignore the food value of the lotus flower, Asian people consider it to be a very valuable food on the table. The edible portion of the lotus root is about one to two inches in diameter with knots about one foot apart. When you cut it up, the fabrics seem to refuse to come apart - symbolizing the affinity of two separated lovers in many Chinese literatures. The Lotus seed is about the size of a marble, and is sweet. It is used to make a sweet paste for Chinese desserts, such as the inside filling of a "Moon Cake" served during the Autumn Festival. During the Chinese new year, lotus seeds are cooked, dressed in sugar and served to visiting relatives. The lotus leaves are used to wrap up rices for steaming - such as the "sticky rice dim sum" served in some Chinese restaurant.
You may also wish to read my posting on Swastika.

General Discussion Forum

Re: Buddhist Symbol
Posted by Y Chan on Wednesday, 26 May 1999, at 8:02 p.m., in response to Buddhist Symbol, posted by ken callahan on Wednesday, 19 May 1999, at 3:39 p.m.
> I recently ran across a beautiful statue of the Buddha that had a strange symbol on its chest. The symbol looked like a swastika(sp?) but was not angled like the Nazi symbol was. I am curious as to the origin and meaning of this symbol. I would appreciate any help or insight that anyone might provide.
This symbol is originated from ancient India, and it means "very lucky", or "bright light radiating outward." The earliest record, about 800 B.C., says that it appeared on the chest of the main Hindu gods. Later, in ancient Indian legends, it was said that all "Wheel Turning Holy Kings" (ie, great kings who can rule the Whole World) were born with swastikas on their chests (chest hairs?) Since the Lord Buddha is also a Holy King, therefore he is also considered to have that symbol.
Thus, the swastika is not exactly a Buddhist symbol. Rather, it is a symbol of Royalty in ancient India. NOTE: the official symbol of Buddhism should be the lotus flower.
No wonder Hitler stole the symbol from ancient Indian culture because he thought that he was a "Holy King" that ruled the whole world. He did steal the symbol and angled it at 45 degrees and used it to represent his political and military ambitions.
The original swastika can be clockwise or anticlockwise - it does not seem to matter - but the Hitler one is always clockwise and angled.

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