By Amy Underdown, London, UK
The art of gift-giving can sometimes be a difficult one to master, and none more so than when we are thinking about what to gift our Buddhist friends and family. The notion of ‘giving’ is a critical part of Buddhism - but this isn’t to say that the answer to our question is simply to shower Buddhists with lavish and opulent presents that make our bank balances fear for their lives. Instead, the answer is simple. A gift for a Buddhist must be three things: selfless, ethical and, most importantly, meaningful.
The first two adjectives in this trio are fairly self-explanatory. We must first not give to receive, as Buddhism is characterised by the idea that any self-serving gift is not a present, but a bribe or trade. We also know that the intention of Buddhists is to bring peace and serenity to all creatures and the planet; a gift which has been made unethically therefore brings a harm into the world that any Buddhist would want to avoid. Run of the mill, token items – often from some of the biggest names in the business – are therefore not recommended.
This also ties into making gifts meaningful and ensuring that they come from the heart. The fact you are reading this article alone implies that a lot of thought is already going into the purchase of said gift, which is a great place to start. Whilst there are plenty of lists out there with the ‘top ten gifts for a Buddhist’ or ‘top five presents to give to Buddhist friends’, simply picking a gift from these well-meaning lists doesn’t have the heart and understanding that a Buddhist gift demands. Malas, meditation tables, or even an all-expenses paid trip to a Buddhist resort can no doubt make wonderful presents. The same can be said for anything with a deeply personal message. One thing to consider, though, (and feel free to call us biased) is a Buddha statue.
Owning a Buddha statue is not simply to own a piece of art, but also to create an experience of positivity and to inspire a culture of meditation. Gifting a Buddha statue therefore gives recipients the chance to have their beliefs and ethos concentrated and reflected in the home. It is a gift that truly understands and inspires Buddhism, as it represents a focal point of serenity and religiosity. In line with this is the recognition that each type of Buddha statue has an entirely different meaning and purpose, so you are able to carefully select the style and pose that fulfils entirely what the recipient of your gift may be seeking.
We all know and love, for example, the well-bellied Budai (or Laughing Buddha), who can be found in the home of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike in order to invite prosperity into the home. But there are plenty more different types of statues, many of which depict the Buddha himself. They are all uniquely defined by their body poses and hand positions (otherwise known as the mudra.) Through understanding what these different types represent, gift-givers can not only bestow a statue that is filled with meaning but can do so with the utmost respect for Buddhism.
For instance, a friend wishing to focus on their spirituality would most benefit from a Teaching Buddha. Those wishing for better health may instead prefer a Medicine Buddha. There are countless other types – ranging from Standing, Sitting and Reclining, all the way through to Calling the Earth to Witness Buddha, who is on the tantalising cusp of Enlightenment. It’s an exciting and important choice to see which statue resonates best, so we have carefully compiled a list about the meaning behind each of the Buddha’s positions here.
It is also key to remember that these pieces are crafted in the essence of Buddhism, and are true pieces of spiritually charged art. In other words, they are by no means ‘off-the-rack' pieces.
That’s a lot of information to take in, but the overall message is clear: gifts must be selfless, ethical and meaningful. A Buddha statue beautifully fulfils this brief, as it is encouraging Buddhism in its strongest form whilst also carrying a personal message. Nevertheless, what is most important is giving a gift to a Buddhist which is true and distinctively heartfelt.
If you are interested in browsing our range of Buddhist statues, you can find them here.