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A religious image or symbol can work at a deep level to help nurture specific spiritual focus. Buddhist and Hindu images and symbols represent a rich tradition. Our malas and jewelry use many different traditional images and symbols that have addressed the different currents of spiritual practice for centuries.

Kwan Yin (Avalokiteshvara in Sanscrit, Chenrezig in Tibetan, Kanzeon in Japanese) represents the Manifestation of Compassion of the Eternal, the Divine. Kwan Yin is often depicted holding a rosary or mala. Sometimes called "Regarder of the Cries of the World," Kwan Yin often is depicted pouring The Waters of Compassion from a small vase in one hand while holding a willow twig in the other. In practice, Kwan Yin represents one's opening to the spirit of Universal Compassion that pervades all things, as well as the cultivation of compassion within oneself.

Tibetan Prayer Wheels Prayer Wheels are rotated to nurture one's spiritual focus, and as an invocation. They are inscribed with the mantra, "Om Mani Padmi Hum/Om Mani Peme Hung" or "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus," the mantra associated with Chenrezig or Avalokiteshwara (Compassion). The Lotus is an ancient symbol of Enlightenment, and the Jewel is the Eternal or At-Onement with the Transcendent Eternal one nurtures or seeks within one's spiritual practice.

The Auspicious Symbols represent aspects of spiritual training. The Double Fish represents the universal monarch or the universal nobility of spiritual achievement, the Conch represents victory of effort, vigor and the voice of the Eternal. The Knot of Eternity, represents the movement of phenomena or the spiritual life within the Eternal, the Unborn, Undying, Uncreated.

Dorje The dorje (Tibetan) or vajra (Sanskrit) represents the Unborn, Uncreated, immaculate Essence underlying all phenomena, or the penetrating nature of Compassion through all suffering.
"Clarity and Emptiness, the dorje essence,
like heavenly space,
How wonderful to know the true face of reality."
Like the diamond, the dorje represents indestructible Transcendent Reality, eternal, clear, spotless, unchanging.
"The Pure Empty Absolute, the nucleus of all reality,
like a diamond,
may not be cut by an ax, nor burned, nor destroyed."
--Vajrashekhara Suttra

Ox Herding Pictures A series of six sometimes seven pictures representing stages of practice and understanding beginning with a youth setting off to look for a wandering ox, representing beginning spiritual endeavor to find and tame human misdirection, and ending with the youth riding the ox and playing the flute, representing spiritual understanding now setting direction and at peace and moving in harmony with the human condition.

Footprint of the Buddha The Buddha's footprint represents the imprint of the Buddha's life and teaching on the world and a quiet invitation to follow in His footsteps toward peace and Enlightenment.

The Endless Knot The Endless Knot, sometimes called the Knot of Eternity, represents the turns and interweaving of the spiritual path, or the nature of all phenomena as contained within That Which is Unchanging, Unborn, Eternal.

Buddha The "awakened one." It can refer to: 1) the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, who was born 563 b.c.e. and died 483 b.c.e. 2) A being who has attained complete Englightenment.
3) A synonym for the Eternal, the timeless, unborn, transcendent Reality underlying all phenomena.

The Eyes of the Buddha The Eyes of the Buddha see all things with the Eye of Transcendent Wisdom, free of all delusion. In the image, above the eyes is a circle or occasionally a spiral, representing the Emptiness and Purity of all phenomena. Below the eyes is a stylized number one, representing the Transcendent Unity of All. This simple and profound symbol dates back to early Indian Buddhism. The most famous representations are found at the great stupas of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath in Nepal.

The Dragon Often associated with Buddha Nature, the dragon is able to expand, contract or transform its body and has the power of invisibility. It possesses a mysterious power and presence not entirely graspable by the worldly mind. Living in the watery realms of seas and lakes and mists, it is present, yet elusive and hidden. And in its realm time exists differently than in the terrestrial, human realm. Holding a globe, the dragon is the guardian of the Jewel of Enlightenment.

The Phoenix Often pictured with Avalokiteshwara (Quan-Yin, Chenrezig) of Compassion, the Phoenix has the head of a pheasant and the tail of a peacock and often carries prayer beads. It sometimes has the Five Cardinal Virtues inscribed on its body. The phoenix is said to have the most enchanting song of any bird. In practice, the Phoenix represents receiving the gift of the Dharma and practice.

The Lotus The seed of the lotus sprouts in the mud of the lake bottom, sends a long stem up through often murky waters, until it opens, bright and clean upon the surface of the water. The seed of our spiritual aspirations awaken in the world of spiritual darkeness; the long stem of our longing and practice searches upward in faith until it opens in wisdom, compassion and Enlightenment, at one with and yet free of suffering of the often dark waters of life.

Long Life The Awareness of the shortness of life, and the Acceptance of all things, including length of life, is a virtue one cultivates within oneself. The wish for a long life, usually for a teacher, occasionally for oneself, represents an aspiration or hope for a long period of time to help others through dharma teaching, or to practice and cultivate spiritual merit.

Om Mani Padme Hum "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus" the mantra associated with Avalokiteshwara (Quan Yin, Chenrezig, Kanzeon), the manifestation of Compassion. (Hail, or Homage to the jewel of the Eternal, Transcendent within the Lotus of Enlightenment) (Om Mani Peme Hung-Tibetan)

OM (Aum) Both the sound as a mantra and form as a letter represent the presence of the Transcendent, Timeless Absolute within the changing world of appearance, time and form.

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