On the sides of the Bodhisattva
Hall, just above the re-duplicated images of Kuan Yin, there is a row of Buddha
figures. This is the Shakyamuni Buddha, portrayed with five mudras, or
hand gestures. You can start at the left end of the Hall; count out to the
tenth figure from the front, showing the Buddha in a brown robe. (This
will put you in a place with little foot traffic.)
There are five mudras.
The first is the Buddha in meditation; one hand lies on the other, resting in
the lap. This is the pose the Buddha held until he achieved Enlightenment.
The next mudra (to the left) shows the Buddha touching the Earth with his right
hand (palm in). At the end of his meditation, he was attacked by Mara the
Evil One, and tempted to sin. By touching the Earth the Buddha literally
"grounded" himself, and the evil dissipated like static electricity
when you touch a doorknob. The next figure is similar, but here the palm
is turned outward. This is the Boon-bestowing mudra, where the Buddha
offers us his gift of Wisdom. Next, the hand is raised (palm outward) in
the gesture Allaying Fear. Finally, there is a mudra in which the fingers
seem intricately entwined. It is like two circles touching, and is called
"The Turning of the Wheel of Dharma," or the beginning of the Buddha's
teaching. (One Buddhist scholar says the Buddha is simply counting off his
points on his fingers, like any good teacher!)
Brown Robe, the Meditation
O Buddha, help me to concentrate on achieving Enlightenment.
Blue Robe, the Earth-touching
O Buddha, help me to avoid evil.
Orange Robe, the Boon-bestowing
O Buddha, help me to accept the gifts you offer.
GreenRobe, the Fear-allaying
O Buddha, help me to conquer all fear.
White Robe, the Teaching
O Buddha, help me to understand your teachings.