“Only by creating peace within our own mind and helping others do the same can we hope to achieve peace in this world.” Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Vajras, Deer & Dharma Wheel
The roof of the Temple is adorned with three golden, five-pronged vajras (pictured above). These vajras symbolize the indestructible good qualities of the enlightened mind. In particular, they symbolize the five wisdoms of an Enlightened being – the highest spiritual attainment and the completion of the spiritual path.
Above the front doorway on Kenmore Avenue there are two deer and a Dharma Wheel. These symbolize the stages of the path to enlightenment. In particular, the male deer symbolizes the realization of great bliss, or compassion, the female deer the realization of emptiness, or wisdom, and the Dharma Wheel the union of these two. Through progressing in this union of great bliss and emptiness, or compassion and wisdom, finally we will attain the five omniscient wisdoms of a Buddha, which are symbolized by the top five-pronged vajras.
The eight auspicious signs (explained below) symbolize in general how to progress along the Buddhist path, and the deer, Dharma Wheel, and top vajras teach us the stages of the path of Highest Yoga Tantra.
The Buddha Statue
Along the front wall of the Temple stands the main shrine, at the center of which is a large statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism. He showed the manner of accomplishing the ultimate goal of living beings, the attainment of enlightenment, at Bodh Gaya in India in 589 BC. For Buddhists, faith in Buddha is their spiritual life; it is the root of all Dharma realizations.
In front of the shrine are offerings that are made daily to the holy beings. We can offer anything we find beautiful or welcoming. Traditionally we offer seven substances based on offerings made to revered guests: water for drinking, water for bathing, flowers, incense, light, perfume and food. There is also an eighth offering, music, which is not represented by a physical substance but is offered when we chant prayers. On most days, these offerings are represented by bowls of pure water, but on special prayer days the actual substances are set out.
The Eight Auspicious Symbols
Within the Temple you will see eight beautiful auspicious symbols in the stained glass windows and on the shrine cabinet. The meaning of these symbols is described below:
The Precious Umbrella
This symbol invites us to come under the great umbrella of Buddhism by applying effort to receive the inspiration and blessings of Buddhas, the enlightened beings, to receive help and support from Sangha, our spiritual friends, and especially to gain personal experience of the Dharma, Buddha’s teachings.
The Precious Fish
The fish symbolize harmony and peace, and teach us that we should always live with one another in harmony and peace. Whenever we see a fish, we can remember the importance of maintaining harmony with others through the power of our love and respect.
The Precious Vase
This Vase symbolizes taking the precious jewels of wisdom and compassion from the treasure vase of Kadam Dharma.
The Precious Lotus
The lotus flower symbolizes purity and goodness, encouraging us to become a pure being, enjoying the purity of our mind and our actions.
The Precious Conch
Listen to the precious sound of the conch of Dharma, Buddha’s teachings, and contemplate and meditate on its profound meaning.
The Precious Indestructible Knot of Eternity
The Knot of Eternity symbolizes an uncommon quality of Buddha’s realizations – his realization of omniscient wisdom – and encourages us to apply great effort to attaining enlightenment.
The Precious Victory Banner
The Victory Banner encourages us to be victorious over the enemy of our delusions, our destructive mental habits.
The Precious Wheel
Benefit others by turning the Wheel of Dharma, that is, by giving Dharma teachings both formally and informally through the power of our example.