What Buddhists Consider Sacred
29 SEP 2017
Although Buddhists emphasize immateriality over the veneration of material objects, they do still consider some objects and places sacred. These include anything anything that represents or reflects any of the manifestations of the Buddha, who achieved enlightenment and gave birth to the Buddhist faith by sharing his insight and wisdom.
Buddhists often pray and meditate in front of representations of the Buddha, including paintings, statues and small figures. Regardless of the form, Buddhists consider these representations sacred and honor them as part of Buddhist worship by presenting them with offerings. Although the historical figure Gautama was the founder of the religion, the term Buddha denotes any one of several individuals who achieved enlightenment, and representations of any of these individuals are equally sacred.
Though Buddhists often pray at home, temples are sacred spaces that provide Buddhist monks and laypeople with a space to meditate and focus on the teachings of Buddhism. Followers sit barefoot on the floor and bow to an image of Buddha while chanting mantras. Similarly, stupas -- stone commemorative monuments -- and Japanese pagodas -- multistory towers -- are also holy spots which Buddhists believe house sacred Buddhist relics or copies of relics.
To cultivate spiritual wisdom and inspire devotion, Buddhists around the world practice pilgrimages to sacred sites in the Buddhist faith. Once such site is Lumbini, a grove in modern day Nepal where Buddhists believe the Queen Maha Maya gave birth to the boy that would one day become Gautama Buddha. Although most followers venerate spots like Lumbini, Buddhist pilgrimages often differ in custom between different countries, regions and sects.
Sacred mandalas are relics from Tibetan Buddhism that depict symbolic representations of the universe. When a Tibetan monk receives a holy vision during meditation, they record their vision as paintings or elaborate sand patterns. Monks sometimes create these mandalas by depicting abstract and colorful patterns, or by including images of important figures in Buddhism. Mandalas are never the same, but all share purpose of inspiring enlightenment in the viewer and provide spiritual wisdom.