Mudra

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Mudras (Sanskrit, “seal” or “sign”) are hand positions often depicted in Buddhist art and used in practice to evoke a particular state of mind. The most notable mudras are those commonly found in representations of the Buddha: hands folded in the lap signify meditation; a palm held up facing outward signifies the act of teaching or reassurance; an open palm pointed downward signifies generosity. In the Vajrayana school, mudras assume an esoteric significance and are usually combined with mantra (recitation) and tantric visualization. In the Zen school of Mahayana Buddhism, which is relatively bare of esoteric rituals, two important mudras, the dhyani, or meditation mudra (formed with the hands held in an oval), and the anjali, or greeting mudra (palms held together at chest level), nevertheless remain important elements of daily practice.

All mudras have both an outer/symbolic and an inner/experiential function, for they communicate at once, both to the person who performs them and to the observer, aspects of the enlightened mind. The names of the mudras are given in the original Sanskrit.



Dhyani mudra.
 
Mudra of meditation. The back of the right hand rests on the upturned palm of the other with the tips of the thumbs lightly touching. The top hand symbolizes enlightenment; the bottom hand, the world of appearances. Thus the mudra as a whole suggests the supremacy of the enlightened mind.

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