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Tattoo designs - B >> Buddha's Throne

Buddha's empty throneBuddha's Throne Tattoo Meanings - The Empty Throne of Buddha is often shown supporting the Dharma Wheel or the Bodhi Tree. Sometimes, the base of the throne is decorated with other symbols of the Buddha's teaching, such as lions and deer - see, The Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism. The idea of an 'empty throne' was meant to imply that the master is sitting there, yet no 'self' is present. The throne is a way to approach the master even through his absence.

For 2500 years, pilgrims have been visiting the site of Buddha's enlightenment in India, and no one has anticipated seeing their master sitting there in the flesh. And neither are they disappointed at the sight of an empty seat. The value of the Empty Throne symbol lies in the concept of 'empty', an important element of mysticism. The Empty Throne is a paradox - the Buddha is there but not there. The throne is empty because the Buddha has awakened to an understanding that his ego or personality has no actual substance. He has realized 'not-self', so why represent 'the self'? Such symbols can help guide us on our personal paths to enlightenment, in journeys that can be any combination of the physical, spiritual and intellectual.

Early Buddhist art employed a number of symbols - parasol, footprints, or a wheel, for example - so as to avoid depicting the Buddha himself. These 'aniconic' images were not intended to be surrogates of Buddha. Devotees could immerse themselves in the teaching without the distraction of a Buddha portrait. After all, those who attain spiritual awakening gain a perspective on reality in which their attachment to the human form has vanished. A mystic finds emptiness to be a more realistic depiction of reality.

The Empty Throne can also refer to the seat of power that Prince Siddharta Gautama rejected in order to become a wanderer seeking spiritual wisdom. It can also signify a 'spiritual kingship' - as ruler of the spiritual world.

Some Buddhist scholars suggest that aniconism - defining something according to what it is not - is the wrong way to look at symbols like the Empty Throne. We should be more concerned with what is actually there - 'emptiness'. It isn't meant to conjure up the Buddha, but instead should be appreciated for what an empty throne actually suggests - no authority figure - it's meant to induce humility in the face of uncertainty. It might encourage an understanding between disparate faiths.

The 'empty throne' concept exists in other religions, as well - for example the prohibition of certain images in Islam, and the fire altar in Zoroastrianism, and the lack of any depiction of God in Jewish art, and the empty tomb in Christianity. The Empty Throne in Buddhism is a useful interface with other monotheistic faiths. In a world where religions are increasingly at odds with one another, the Empty Throne stands as symbol that could do much to bring peoples together. As a tattoo design, it should enjoy a long and useful life.

Bodhgaya, India bodhi tree

Buddha's Empty Throne Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!Today, Buddhism is usually symbolized by images of the Buddha himself. But a return to the place of his awakening in Bodhgaya, India, still presents the most powerful impression of his life and teachings. The experience is the result of being in the presence of emptiness, the sacred spot under the bodhi tree which has been vacant for 2500 years.

Get inspired by some great images and photos in our Buddha's Empty Throne Inspiration Gallery

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See also: Buddha Tattoos, Religious Tattoo Index, Japanese Tattoo Index, Bodhi Tree, Parasol, Buddhist Tattoos, Conch Shell Tattoos, Begging Bowl, Three Jewels, Buddhist Tattoo Index

Tattoo designs - B >> Buddha's Throne

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