Buddha Statue - Antique Indonesian Style Seated Bronze Javanese Preaching Buddha - 15cm/6"

The Teaching Buddha in Buddhism: Illuminating the Path of Wisdom


The Teaching Buddha, also known as the Dharmachakra Mudra, is a central and revered image in Buddhism. This iconic representation of the Buddha carries profound meaning and symbolism within the context of Buddhist philosophy and practice. This essay explores the significance of the Teaching Buddha in Buddhism, examining its posture, symbolism, and the essential teachings it conveys.

I. Representation of the Teaching Buddha

The Teaching Buddha is typically depicted in a seated posture with both legs crossed in the lotus position or half-lotus position, signifying a state of meditative serenity. The Buddha's right hand is positioned at chest level with the palm facing outward, while the left hand rests in the lap, facing upward. The right hand's gesture, known as the Dharmachakra Mudra, is the turning of the wheel of Dharma, symbolizing the Buddha's commencement of his teaching mission.

II. Symbolism of the Teaching Buddha

  1. Turning the Wheel of Dharma: The most prominent symbolism of the Teaching Buddha is the gesture of turning the wheel of Dharma. It represents the Buddha's initiation of his teachings after his enlightenment in the Deer Park at Sarnath. The turning of the wheel signifies the commencement of the Buddha's mission to guide sentient beings on the path to liberation by sharing the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

  2. Enlightenment and Wisdom: The seated and meditative posture of the Teaching Buddha reflects a state of profound inner peace and enlightenment. It symbolizes the calm and contemplative mind that has transcended suffering and gained wisdom. The crossed legs indicate balance and harmony, signifying the integration of all aspects of life.

  3. Two-Handed Gesture: The right hand's gesture facing outward represents the act of teaching and sharing the Dharma with the world. The left hand's position, resting in the lap with the palm facing upward, symbolizes meditation, serenity, and the internalization of wisdom. Together, they signify the balance between the external expression of teachings and the inner cultivation of spiritual insight.

  4. Universal Compassion: The Teaching Buddha's message is one of universal compassion and liberation. The open palm of the right hand signifies an invitation for all beings to come and learn from the Dharma, emphasizing the Buddha's desire to help others escape the cycle of suffering.

Khmer Teaching

III. Spiritual Significance

The Teaching Buddha conveys several vital spiritual lessons:

  1. The Path of Wisdom: The gesture of turning the wheel of Dharma serves as a reminder of the core teachings of Buddhism—the Four Noble Truths, which address the nature of suffering and the path to liberation, and the Eightfold Path, which guides practitioners toward ethical living and wisdom.

  2. The Role of the Teacher: The Teaching Buddha emphasizes the importance of spiritual guidance and the role of the teacher in transmitting the Dharma to those seeking the path of enlightenment.

  3. Mindfulness and Meditation: The seated posture encourages practitioners to cultivate mindfulness and meditative awareness as a means to gain insight and wisdom.

  4. Compassion for All: The open hand symbolizes the universal nature of the Buddha's teachings, emphasizing compassion and the desire to alleviate suffering for all sentient beings.


The Teaching Buddha, with its iconic gesture of turning the wheel of Dharma, encapsulates the essence of Buddhist philosophy and practice. It represents the Buddha's profound realization of the nature of suffering and his compassionate mission to guide others toward liberation. The symbolism of this image serves as a source of inspiration and guidance for Buddhist practitioners worldwide, reminding them of the path of wisdom, compassion, and inner transformation that leads to the ultimate goal of enlightenment and liberation from suffering.

Majapahit Teaching