The journey towards self-love is a profound, multifaceted quest of self-discovery, healing, and growth. It’s about seeking peace within ourselves, accepting our flaws and virtues, and cultivating compassion and love for our own being. Buddhism, a spiritual tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life, presents a myriad of powerful symbols that guide us on this journey of self-love.
These Buddhist symbols, steeped in deep wisdom, provide guidance on the path of spiritual awakening, serving as reminders of fundamental Buddhist teachings. They help us understand the nature of human suffering, lead us in the direction of inner peace, and encourage us to embrace the noble truths. Furthermore, these symbols encourage the practice of good deeds, nurturing the development of positive energy, and directing us towards the ultimate goal of spiritual enlightenment.
Table of Contents
- Buddhist Symbol for Self Love
- Lotus Flower
- The Bodhi Tree
- Dharma Wheel (Dharmachakra)
- Om Symbol
- The Buddha’s Footprints
- The Endless Knot
- The Treasure Vase
- Buddha’s Eyes (Wisdom Eyes)
- Auspicious Conch Shell
- The Golden Fish
- The Parasol
- Sri Yantra
- The Bodhisattva
- The Deer
- Vajra (Dorje)
- The Tree of Life
- The Swastika
- The Begging Bowl
- The Ring of Fire
- Mudras (Buddhist hand gestures)
- Shakyamuni Buddha
- The Eight Auspicious Symbols
- The Concept of Self-Love in Buddhism: An Exploration of Mettā
- Buddhist Symbol Self Love Tattoo Ideas
- More Self Love Symbolism
Buddhist Symbol for Self Love
Here are 25 spiritual Buddhist symbols that will inspire you on your journey towards self-love:
The concept of self-love is multi-faceted and encompasses various elements like self-understanding, self-acceptance, self-care, and personal growth. Most Buddhist symbols can be linked to these aspects, either directly or indirectly, as they promote mindfulness, self-awareness, compassion, and personal transformation – all crucial ingredients for cultivating self-love
The Lotus flower aka Padma mudra, emerging clean and beautiful from muddy waters, is a powerful Buddhist symbol representing the journey of spiritual growth and transformation.
This symbol is a reminder that we, too, can rise above our sufferings and challenges, to blossom into a state of self-love and inner peace. Just like the Lotus flower, it encourages us to use our struggles as the fertile ground from which to bloom, realizing our inherent worth and love for ourselves.
The process of blooming signifies self-transformation, growth, and the realization of one’s inherent worth—central themes in the practice of self-love.
Meanings of The Different Color Lotus Flower
Different colors of the lotus flower do hold different symbolic meanings in Buddhism. Each color represents various aspects of spiritual growth, enlightenment, and the journey of the human soul, so let’s take a look at the different meaning of each one.
White Lotus: The white lotus symbolizes spiritual perfection and complete purity. It is often associated with the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, and represents his journey to spiritual realization.
Red Lotus: This vibrant lotus color represents love, compassion, and all the qualities of the heart. It is associated with the qualities that are considered to be the essence of heart-centered enlightenment.
Blue Lotus: The blue lotus symbolizes wisdom and the victory of the spirit over the senses. It represents knowledge, learning, and intelligence.
Pink Lotus: This is considered the supreme lotus, often reserved for the highest deity in Buddhism, the Great Buddha himself. It represents the essence of the Buddha’s teachings and is considered the true lotus of Buddha.
Purple Lotus: This lotus color is often associated with mysticism and spiritual journeys. It’s usually depicted with its petals closed or barely open, symbolizing spiritual awakening.
Remember, the lotus flower’s overall meaning of purity, enlightenment, and spiritual awakening remains the same, but the different colors add an extra layer of symbolism and meaning to this beautiful flower.
White, Pink, Blue, and Purple Lotus Flowers: Different colored lotus flowers have unique meanings. White signifies purity and perfection, pink represents the Buddha himself, blue symbolizes wisdom and knowledge, and purple is for mysticism and spirituality. Each color inspires us to cultivate these qualities within ourselves as part of our journey of self-love.
The Bodhi Tree
This is a symbol of enlightenment in Buddhism, representing the tree under which Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, achieved spiritual awakening. It inspires us to be resilient and patient in our journey of self-love, reminding us that enlightenment comes to those who are persistent in their quest for truth.
It also encourages us to stand tall and steadfast amidst life’s challenges, just like the robust Bodhi tree, symbolizing our strength and determination in the pursuit of self-understanding and love.
The Bodhi tree, under which Buddha achieved enlightenment, is a symbol of awakening and deep understanding, aspects crucial to self-love. The tree can represent the patience, resilience, and insight required in the journey of cultivating self-love.
Dharma Wheel (Dharmachakra)
The Dharma Wheel, also known as the Wheel of Law, symbolizes the Eightfold Path that leads to enlightenment. It encourages us to follow the path of right living, providing a guiding framework for self-love through wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental discipline. As we embody these practices, we naturally cultivate a profound sense of self-love and respect, finding harmony between our actions, words, and thoughts.
This important symbol is known as the sound of the universe, the Om symbol (also spelt aum symbol) signifies unity and completeness. It inspires us to find harmony within ourselves, leading us towards a state of self-acceptance and love. This is considered the Buddhist symbol of self compassion. It is a reminder that we are part of the grand cosmic dance, integral to the universe, deserving of love and care, thereby reinforcing our self-worth and self-love.
The Unalome symbol is a representation of the path to enlightenment in Buddhist culture. The twists and turns of the Unalome design signify the journey from ignorance and fear to wisdom and self-love, with the straight line at the top symbolizing enlightenment. This journey is a mirror of our own path to self-love, filled with obstacles and learning, but ultimately leading to self-understanding, acceptance, and love. You could consider an unalome tattoo if this symbol speaks to you
The Buddha’s Footprints
The footprints of the Buddha are symbols of his physical presence and his enlightened path. They remind us to walk in the Buddha’s steps, cultivating mindfulness, wisdom, and self-love in our lives. They serve as a gentle reminder that every step we take can lead us closer to self-love and inner peace if we tread with mindfulness and intention.
The Endless Knot
Also known as the eternal knot, or the glorious knot. This symbol represents the interconnectivity of all things and the eternal cycle of life. It inspires us to realize our connectedness with the universe and cultivate a love for ourselves that radiates outward. It encourages us to recognize that self-love is not an isolated act but interconnected with our relationships, environment, and the universe at large. Because the knot has no beginning and no end, this symbol has a meaning connected to the endless wisdom and compassion of the Buddha
The Treasure Vase
Symbolizing spiritual and material abundance, the Treasure Vase reminds us of the abundant nature of the universe and encourages us to cultivate gratitude and generosity, essential components of self-love. It reminds us to perceive ourselves as vessels of endless potential and worth, and as we fill our own vase with self-love, we can overflow with love for others.
Buddha’s Eyes (Wisdom Eyes)
Found on stupas and temples, these eyes represent the all-seeing wisdom of the Buddha. They inspire us to see ourselves and others with compassion, understanding, and love. They remind us to view our own selves through the lens of compassion and understanding, fostering a deep sense of self love.
Auspicious Conch Shell
This symbol represents the voice of the Buddha and his teachings, encouraging us to listen to our inner wisdom and truth as a guide for self-love. It reminds us that within us resides a profound wisdom, a guiding voice that speaks of love and compassion. As we tune into this voice and trust its guidance, we nurture our journey of self-love.
The Golden Fish
A symbol of happiness, freedom, and good fortune, the Golden Fish inspire us to swim freely in the ocean of our self-awareness, liberating ourselves from fear, self-doubt, and self-judgment.
Symbolizing protection and shelter, the Parasol reminds us to take good care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually, promoting an active practice of self-love.
Although originally a Hindu symbol, the Sri Yantra is often used in Buddhist practices too. It represents the journey towards spiritual awakening and enlightenment, reminding us to continually seek self-knowledge and self-love.
This represents individuals who have attained enlightenment but delay their own nirvana to assist others on their spiritual journey. It encourages us to extend the love we cultivate for ourselves to others, fostering a sense of interconnectedness and compassion.
Deer are associated with the first teaching of the Buddha after he reached enlightenment. They symbolize the gentleness of his teachings and inspire us to cultivate gentleness and kindness towards ourselves.
This symbol, often depicted as a diamond or thunderbolt, stands for indestructibility and irresistible force. It inspires us to be steadfast in our journey of self-love, even when we encounter difficulties and obstacles.
The Tree of Life
While the Tree of Life is a common symbol across different cultures, in Buddhism, it’s associated with the Buddha’s awakening and the interconnectedness of all life. It encourages us to nurture ourselves and grow strong in our love and acceptance.
In Buddhism, the swastika represents eternity and the footprints of the Buddha. Despite its misuse in history, its original meaning is about good fortune and well-being, inspiring us to cultivate positivity and good fortune within ourselves.
Mandalas are complex designs that represent the universe and our place within it. They inspire us to seek harmony and balance within ourselves, reinforcing the importance of loving and caring for ourselves.
The Begging Bowl
Symbolizing the Buddha’s life as a monk, the begging bowl is a symbol of humility and simplicity. It encourages us to seek fulfillment within ourselves, rather than through external possessions or status.
The Ring of Fire
This symbolizes the energy of transformation and the burning away of ignorance. It encourages us to let go of unhelpful beliefs and patterns that prevent us from fully loving ourselves.
Mudras (Buddhist hand gestures)
Mudras are symbolic hand gestures used in Buddhist art and meditation. Each mudra has a specific meaning, guiding us to harness different energies for our spiritual growth and self-love journey.
This symbolizes the historical Buddha, reminding us of his journey towards enlightenment and inspiring us to pursue our own path of self-discovery, acceptance, and love.
The Eight Auspicious Symbols
Together, these symbols (Parasol, Golden Fish, Treasure Vase, Lotus Flower, Conch Shell, Endless Knot, Victory Banner, and Dharma Wheel) represent different aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. They guide us in understanding and integrating these teachings into our lives, fostering our journey of self-love and spiritual growth.
Each of these symbols holds profound wisdom and guidance for our path towards self-love. Let these symbols be your guides, helping you delve deeper into your true nature, cultivate inner peace, and foster a loving relationship with yourself. Remember, the journey of self-love is a constant practice, and these symbols serve as reminders to be gentle, patient, and compassionate with ourselves along the way.
Remember that the journey of self-love is highly personal and varied, and different symbols may resonate differently with each individual. It’s less about finding a perfect symbol and more about what each symbol uniquely communicates to you on your journey towards self-love and self-understanding.
The Concept of Self-Love in Buddhism: An Exploration of Mettā
In Western societies, self-love often entails prioritizing one’s needs, setting boundaries, and fostering self-esteem. It may involve personal care, emotional wellness, and the pursuit of individual happiness. However, the Buddhist perspective on self-love, while encompassing some of these elements, presents a more expansive and nuanced view.
The Buddhist tradition introduces the concept of ‘Mettā’ or ‘Maitri’, often translated as ‘loving-kindness’ or ‘benevolence’. This is a fundamental aspect of Buddhist practice and can be considered the Buddhist approach to self-love. Mettā is the sincere wish for the well-being and happiness of all beings, and that includes oneself. Unlike the western concept of self-love, which can sometimes lean towards individualism or self-centrism, Mettā is intrinsically connected to compassion for others.
Buddhism teaches that self-love is not an isolated act; it is inseparable from the love and compassion we extend to others. There’s a well-known saying in Buddhism, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” This signifies the importance of recognizing one’s inherent worth and extending the same compassion and understanding to oneself as one would to others.
At the heart of Buddhism, there’s an understanding of the interconnectedness of all beings. Therefore, when one cultivates self-love through the practice of Mettā, it not only benefits the individual but also creates ripples that positively impact others and the world. Self-love in Buddhism is also about self-acceptance, understanding the nature of one’s mind, and accepting oneself, flaws and all. It’s about acknowledging our human frailties, not as weaknesses but as gateways to compassion, understanding, and spiritual growth.
Self-love in Buddhism, therefore, is both a personal and a universal act. It involves nurturing one’s own wellbeing, fostering mindfulness, embodying compassion, and understanding the nature of self and others. It’s a dynamic, compassionate, and holistic approach to self-care that transcends the confines of the individual and extends to all beings.
These symbols that we have mentioned serve to remind practitioners of the teachings they represent. However, the practice of Mettā or self-love in Buddhism primarily lies in mindfulness, meditation, and the cultivation of a compassionate and understanding mindset.
Buddhist Symbol Self Love Tattoo Ideas
As you embark on the path of self-love and spiritual awakening, adorning your body with a Buddhist symbol can be a deeply personal and meaningful way to connect with these powerful teachings.
These symbols serve as daily reminders of your commitment to self-love, self-understanding, and growth. Popular choices include the Unalome symbol, a representation of the path to enlightenment; its twists and turns signify the journey from ignorance and fear to wisdom and self-love. The Lotus flower, which blooms beautifully amidst muddy waters, symbolizes personal transformation, resilience, and purity of the heart. The Bodhi Tree, under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment, can serve as a symbol of resilience, patience, and spiritual awakening.
Other popular tattoo symbols for self-love include different colored Lotus flowers, the Dharma Wheel, the Om symbol, and the Endless Knot. Each carries a unique and profound meaning and can be designed in various styles to match your aesthetic preference.
Speak with your tattoo artist and show them these symbols to come up with a design that’s right for you.
You might also like our list of spiritual meditation tattoo ideas
Always remember, the most important aspect is that the symbol resonates with you and your personal journey towards self-love.
More Self Love Symbolism
- Philautia: The Beautiful Greek Word for Self Love
- 26 Beautiful Flowers with Meanings of Self Love
- 16 Powerful Celtic Symbols for Self Love
Anna is a Wales-based writer and graduate from SOAS University of London.
As the voice behind On Your Journey, she empowers women to embrace holistic well-being and spiritual growth through her expert insights into wellness and symbolism.
When she isn't writing thought-provoking articles, you'll find her busy crafting and raising her 4 children.