The Buddhist collection is a collection of artefacts that might be found in a Buddhist shrine. It contains: Buddha rupa (statue), 7 offering bowls, butter lamp, Tibetan incense sticks and holder, Thangka wall hanging and teachers' notes.
Buddha is not a name but a title meaning 'Enlightened One'. It was given to Siddhartha Gautama, a wealthy Indian Prince. As a young man, he left his palace to find the meaning of suffering. He meditated until enlightenment came. His enlightenment formed the core of Buddhist teaching:
The Four Noble Truths:
- All life is suffering (it is unsatisfactory)
- Desire or craving causes suffering
- Eliminate desire to end suffering, death and rebirth. This is perfection or Nirvana
- To do this follow the Eightfold Path:
- Right view
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right concentration
The top three are categorised as knowledge, the next three as way of life and the bottom two as meditation.
Rupas may vary in style but the Buddha is often seated in the lotus position with the hands in the meditation (Dhyana) mudra (as in the photograph) at the moment of his enlightenment. The index finger and thumb make a complete circle. This represents the wheel of dharma or law. Other typical features of a Buddha include elongated ear lobes, which indicate the wealthy family from which he came, and the mark in the centre of the forehead symbolising the eye of wisdom.
The collection includes seven offering bowls that represent offerings made to the Buddha: the things one might offer an honoured guest. These are:
- Water to drink
- Water for washing
On an actual shrine these may include real offerings or the bowls may be filled with water to represent the gifts.
Our collection includes incense and a butter lamp to represent fragrance and light.
Finally there is a thangka, depicting an image of the Buddha in another common mudra position: Bhumisparsha, (calling the earth to witness) where the right hand is touching the earth. Thangkas are colourful paintings or embroidered wall hangings. The name derives from the Tibetan word ‘tang’ meaning flat. This is because they were designed to be rolled up for easy transportation. The image is generally protected by a piece of cloth which can be rolled up out of the way when the thangka is displayed.
In the classroom the items can be used individually to explore different aspects of the Buddha’s life or Buddhist worship, or may be displayed as a shrine. If the latter, it is important that pupils are aware of the respect that it should be given, which can be used to kick start a discussion on respect and tolerance towards others and their beliefs.
The collection comes with additional notes on the items.