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  • Buddhist Mudras

    Buddhist mudras are hand gestures used to symbolize different things. Such as the Dhyana Mudra which is the meditation mudra. Formed by placing the right hand in the left palm and touching thumbs together. The left hand represents the illusion world we live in. The right hand represents enlightenment. Right hand is over the left to represent the accomplishment of overcoming the distractions and reaching enlightenment.

    There are many others that have many different meaning. What I would like to know is why Shao Lin monks often have left hand in meditation mudra.. palm up at dan tian level. Right hand in prayer or greeting. Like when both hands are placed together. Only this is just right hand alone. But also with left hand in the meditation mudra. What's the meaning of this? I see Shi Yan Ming and all his students standing around doing this for a picture. But I have never found it anywhere other than Shao Lin. What's the deal?

  • #2
    Good question. I know nothing about this stuff. Time we got some information on it.
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)
    russbo.com


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    • #3
      Here is something from shaolinwolf.com:

      After thirteen years of silence from Da Mo, Shin Huang was standing outside of Da Mo's room in the wintertime. It was extremely cold, snow and ice covered the ground. Becoming enraged at Da Mo's silence, Shin Huang picked up a large block of snow and ice and hurled it into Da Mo's room. The snow and ice struck the floor and Da Mo was awakened from his
      meditation. Da Mo looked at Shin Huang and in anger and frustration, Shin Huang demanded to know when Da Mo would teach him. Da Mo finally replied, saying that he would teach Shin Huang when red snow fell from the sky.


      When he heard this, something inside Shin Huang changed and he took the sword from around his belt and cut off his left arm. Raising the severed arm above his head, Shin Huang whirled the arm above his head. The blood from the arm froze as it fell in the cold air, like red snow.

      Seeing this, Da Mo agreed to teach Shin Huang.

      In front of the Shaolin temple, at the foot of Shao Shi mountain, there are five little mountains. The mountains are named the Bell, Drum, Stamp, Sword and Flag mountains,
      named thusly because they are shaped like their namesakes. Da Mo took a monk's spade and went with Shin Huang to the Drum Mountain. The Drum mountain was so named because it was flat on top, like the surface of a drum. In taking Shin Huang to the Drum mountain, Da Mo was sending an unspoken message that Shin Huang should flatten his heart in the same way that a drum was flat.


      Upon the surface of the Drum mountain, Da Mo dug a well for Shin Huang. The water of this well was bitter. Da Mo left Shin Huang on the Drum mountain for a year and for that year Shin Huang used the bitter water of Da Mo's well to cook, to clean, to bathe and to drink. After using the bitter water for a year, Shin Huang returned to Da Mo and asked him again to teach him. Da Mo took Shin Huang back to the Drum mountain and dug a second well for him. The water of this well was spicy. For an entire year, Shin Huang used the spicy water for all of his needs. At the end of the second year, Shin Huang returned to Da Mo and asked again to be taught. Da Mo returned with Shin Huang to the Drum mountain and dug a third well. The water of this well was sour. For the third year, Shin Huang used the sour water for all of his needs. At the end of that year, Shin Huang returned to Da Mo and
      asked again to be taught. Da Mo again took Shin Huang to the Drum mountain and dug a fourth and final well. The water of this well was sweet.

      Shin Huang realized that the four wells which Da Mo had dug represented his life. Sometimes his life would be bitter and sometimes spicy, sometimes sour and sometimes sweet. Without speaking to him, Da Mo had taught Shin Huang the most important of lessons through his actions. Upon realizing this, Shin Huang was given the name Hui Ke and he became abbot of the Shaolin temple after Da Mo.

      To pay respect to Hui Ke sacrifice, Shaolin disciples greet each other using only their right hand.
      -Jesse Pasleytm
      "How do I know? Because my sensei told me!"

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      • #4
        But, like most things Buddhist, there is usually an esoteric significance as well. For example, one would not just assume the Dhyana mudra just to give attention to tradition. Mudra's bring attention to particular processes while meditating, performing breathing excercises, etc. If it is only of symbolic and traditional nature, then I would hesitate to call it a mudra.
        -Jesse Pasleytm
        "How do I know? Because my sensei told me!"

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        • #5
          I think in this case there just happens to be overlap between the two.
          "Arhat, I am your father..."
          -the Dark Lord Cod

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          • #6
            Paz, that's not what I'm talking about. (That story is well known). I'm curious about these other so called Buddhist hand signals, whatever they are.
            Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

            "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

            (more comments in my User Profile)
            russbo.com


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            • #7
              well those other mudras are very interesting...there are tons of them...Fear Dispelling is a popular one, there's the one where the Buddha points to heaven and touches the earth...there's the Boon Dispensing mudra...some of them are very ancient and predate Buddhism, you can even find some of them in Christian symbolism...

              For instance Fear Dispelling you can see in some Mesopotamian statuary. Or was that Boon Dispensing?
              "Arhat, I am your father..."
              -the Dark Lord Cod

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              • #8
                http://www.twilightbridge.com/hobbie...ddha/mudra.htm

                Here is a site explaining the meanings of a few mudras. It shows how some are mixed. The left hand in Dhyana Mudra for meditation while the other hand is in some way to represent some other meaning while in meditation. You can see what I mean by reading the examples there.

                But this one Shao Lin monks do often is done with right hand in prayer mudra while the left is in Dyhana Mudra. This could be showing respect and gratitude to Buddha while in meditation. Or a greeting between fellow Buddhists. But they don't do it while meditating, though their left hand is in the meditation mudra. So I don't know.

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                • #9
                  Oh yes, and Doc. Do you remember the thread about one sleeved robes? The Buddha is often pictured wearing only one sleeve, like on that site there. So I guess it must be some Buddhist thing...

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                  • #10
                    The one sleeve robe is a Buddhist thing. I just read it, actually, in a book on Buddhism that I'm attacking. The initial disciples apparently wore one sleeve robes.

                    But, as we've discussed before, I haven't seen them made in Shaolin. They're all two sleevers, that are easily converted and worn as one sleevers. The monks wear them both ways.
                    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

                    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

                    (more comments in my User Profile)
                    russbo.com


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                    • #11
                      Isn't there another name for Shin Huang?
                      practice wu de

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                      • #12
                        His disciple name, Hui Ke.

                        Doc, interesting. What book was it? Did it say the reason why the disciples wore one sleeve robes? Anything it signifies to a Buddhist disciple?

                        I'd like to read more. Recently I was just looking up the mudra meanings. So I get an idea of what these things I see really mean. Thanks for the replies....

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                        • #13
                          his name is also sometimes spelled Ji Guang.
                          "Arhat, I am your father..."
                          -the Dark Lord Cod

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                          • #14
                            Ok, I haven't gotten my guess confirmed on the Shao Lin bowing mudra thing. Still interested in finding that.

                            Here is a page that talks about the Buddhist monastic robes. It explains the one arm thing here too...

                            http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/...d/robe_txt.htm

                            A quote:
                            "Within the monastery or residence and when having an audience with a more senior monk, a simpler style is adopted (as a gesture of respect and to facilitate work). The right side of the robe is pushed under the armpit and over the robe on the left leaving the right shoulder bare."

                            This is talking about a different type of robe from what the fighting monks wear, which was what I wondered about first. But I guess the reason would be the same for each robe. Anyway, that's what I found.

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