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      The Happy Buddha: Symbolism across Cultures

      The Happy Buddha: Symbolism across Cultures

      The jolly laughing Buddha is based on an eccentric Chinese monk who lived over 1,000 years ago–a benevolent and joyous man who came to be regarded as an incarnation of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the “world teacher”.  The laughing Buddha is known in China as the Loving or Friendly One, and his image graces many temples, restaurants, and amulets as a deity of abundance and contentment. He always has a big and friendly grin, as well as a largely exposed pot belly stomach, which symbolizes good luck, joy, and prosperity. While laughing Buddha consistently has these qualities, there are several different variations to bring an abundance of all kinds into your life.

      As Buddhism has become popular in countries all over the world it remains a predominant spiritual belief in Asia. It is practiced in China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, and many more countries. Here in the US it is said that Hawaii has the highest population of Buddhists.

      Let's dive into the different forms of Buddha that we see around the world!

       

      The Spiritual Journey Buddha carries a gourd of enlightenment in one hand, a fan in the other, and wears a necklace of prayer beads. The fan is a symbol of happiness and joy used to banish troubles and misfortune, while the prayer beads (also known as mala beads) represent a consistent meditation practice and mindfulness in daily life.

      The Traveling Buddha is ready for adventure and is often toted as a talisman for safety in travel.  There are several variations of this worldly Buddha.  The Traveling Wu Lou Buddha carries with him the gourd of enlightenment, a wealth ball, and a sack which he uses to collect people’s sadness and woes. It is said that the sack, or ‘Hotei’, transmutes all of that negative energy into wealth and good fortune!  The wealth ball is sometimes seen as a pearl and symbolizes the most valuable ‘pearls’ of all treasures: wisdom and health.

      The Traveling Music Buddha is sure to attract new and wonderous experiences and ensures they will be met with as much exuberance as one would have when dancing to their favorite songs.  He also carries a sack for transmuting troubles, wears enlightening mala beads, and carries a small ukulele to bring joy with his beautiful music!

      The Safe Travels Buddha is a protective deity and carries with him his Hotei sack and wealth ball, to bring joy, prosperity, and wisdom in your travels.

       

      The Abundance Buddha and Prosperity Buddha

      While all happy Buddhas bring an abundance of good things, some are specifically focused on attracting a wealth of money, love, and spirit.  The Buddha of prosperity can be sitting or standing; either way, he holds two wealth balls over his head in a victorious stance, ready to WIN at all aspects of life!

      There is another variation of the Buddha of prosperity who carries the Ru-Yi pot of abundance, as well as a talisman to Nepal which attracts wealth and worldly wisdom.

      The Buddha of good health and abundance carries a Ru-Yi pot to attract prosperity, a wealth ball to bring abundance and good health, and he wears prayer beads to maintain a connection to mindfulness and spirituality.  His compatriot, the abundance Buddha holds a Ru-Yi “bowl of plenty” high above his head to attract wealth, health, and wisdom.

      The happy Buddhas are also sometimes meditating or simply sitting and being jolly, to attract luck and prosperity.  It is said that rubbing the belly of Happy Buddha will bring good fortune to you with even more speed and strength!  Try carrying one with you as a lucky talisman or place a few in your home; the bright smile and positive energy attraction of happy Buddha just might bring some surprising goodness your way!

       Mexicali Blues Buddha Backflow Incense Burner

      If you're looking for other home decor items or accessories to bring you the peacefulness that symbol of Buddha carries you can shop the full collection here!

      TIBETAN PRAYER FLAGS: AN ANCIENT WAY TO SHARE GOOD VIBES

      TIBETAN PRAYER FLAGS: AN ANCIENT WAY TO SHARE GOOD VIBES

        

      When the tradition of hanging Tibetan prayer flags began more than 2000 years ago, Tibet was ruled by warlords who carried their own flags into battle. The native people took this as their inspiration but spun the intent on its axis when they made their own flags to honor the nature gods of Bon, their shamanistic religion. They used four colors to represent the four elements: blue for sky or space, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth. They believed these flags would carry blessings on the wind to anyone nearby, so they took to hanging them over mountain passes and rivers to benefit all who passed underneath.

      In the 7th century, Buddhism largely took the place of Bon, absorbing many of its characteristics including the flags, and bringing the new ideals of peace and compassion. The early prayer flags displayed both Buddhist prayers and pictures of the fierce Bon gods who they believed protected Buddha. Over the next 200 years, Buddhist monks began to print their own mantras and symbols on the flags as prayers for peace, prosperity, wisdom, and compassion to be sent out into the world with each breeze.

      Carly exploring a market in Nepal under a canopy of prayer flags!

      Our traditional Tibetan prayer flags are inscribed with these symbols and words that are said to carry prayers and hopes into the breeze and across the lands. The words on the prayer flags are a combination of mantra, sutra, and prayer. They aren’t directly translatable into English, as each mantra is an expression of an intention, energy, and the vibration of the sound. You might say that their inner meanings are beyond words.

       

      A mantra is a powerful word or set of words with the capacity of influencing certain dimensions of energy. It is said that the vibration of mantras can control the invisible energies that govern existence. It’s the sound and the utterance of it that is said to have those powers, even without thinking about or necessarily understanding exactly what it is you’re saying. Buddhist monks will repeat a mantra over and over as a form of meditation, and a way of sending that energy out into the world. Similarly, the prayer flags send that energy out just by being hung!

      One mantra that is on most prayer flags is OM MANI PADME HUM, which is the mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion. Printed on prayer flags, this mantra sends blessings of compassion to the world. Sutras are prose texts based on the words of the historical Buddha who taught in India 2500 years ago. One sutra often seen on prayer flags is the dharani. Similar to mantras, dharanis contain magical formulas that are comprised of symbolic letters and pieces of words. Read out of context, they make very little sense, but when on the flags they convey the essence of a teaching or a specific state of mind. Text on the flags beyond mantras and sutras can be classified as prayers, and they include supplications, aspirations, and positive wishes written by various masters of Buddhism throughout history.

      In a nutshell, the words on prayer flags are all about sharing good vibes with the world! 

       

      Prayer flags may be hung indoors, but they are designed to be strung up outside where the wind will disperse their messages if you choose to do so. Today, there are still prayer flags hanging up all over Nepal with this intention. After some time the flags will fade and fray, symbolizing the natural passing of all things. It is believed that when prayer flags fade and blow away thread by thread, the prayers become a permanent part of the universe. Every time you look at prayer flags, let them remind you to continue to send out your own prayers for peace and kindness in the world. As you do so, you will benefit from their blessings as well!

      Mexicali Blues owners, Pete and Kim, in Nepal!

      What does all the Sanskrit writing on your prayer flags mean? We have a whole separate post about it here!

      CELEBRATING BUDDHA AROUND THE WORLD: TODAY IS NIRVANA DAY!

      CELEBRATING BUDDHA AROUND THE WORLD: TODAY IS NIRVANA DAY!

      Today our Mahayana Buddhist friends in Tibet, Nepal, India, China, and Japan are observing Parinirvana Day (commonly known as Nirvana Day)—the day the Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, through physical death. Nirvana Day doesn’t celebrate the Buddha’s death. It celebrates his entry to Nirvana, breaking the cycle of suffering and rebirth and reaching the […]

      The post CELEBRATING BUDDHA AROUND THE WORLD: TODAY IS NIRVANA DAY! appeared first on Mexicali Blues Blog.

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      Buddhist Deities: Mahakala–the Protector of Dharma

      Buddhist Deities: Mahakala–the Protector of Dharma

      Mahakala is the menacing & powerful embodiment of the bodhisattva of compassion. His purpose is to help in overcoming negative obstacles on the path to enlightenment, & protecting that path of righteousness (also known as “dharma”) from hindrances. Meant to scare bad spirits and energy away from the place it protects.

      The post Buddhist Deities: Mahakala–the Protector of Dharma appeared first on Mexicali Blues Blog.

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      Tibetan Prayer Flags Explained: What Does All That Sanskrit Writing Mean?

      Tibetan Prayer Flags Explained: What Does All That Sanskrit Writing Mean?

      Our traditional Tibetan prayer flags are inscribed with symbols and words that are said to carry prayers and hopes into the breeze and across the lands. If you’ve ever wondered what all that Sanskrit writing means, read on! The words on the prayer flags are a combination of mantra, sutra, and prayer. They aren’t directly […]

      The post Tibetan Prayer Flags Explained: What Does All That Sanskrit Writing Mean? appeared first on Mexicali Blues Blog.

      Read more

      Prayer Flags Explained!

      Prayer Flags Explained!

      When the tradition of hanging Tibetan prayer flags began more than 2000 years ago, Tibet was ruled by warlords who carried their own flags into battle. The native people took this as their inspiration but spun the intent on its axis when they made their own flags to honor the nature gods of Bon, their […]

      The post Prayer Flags Explained! appeared first on Mexicali Blues Blog.

      Read more