The role of statues and pictures in meditation

Statues and pictures are an important part of many spiritual traditions, whereas other traditions view them as obscuring the real nature of the truth. The latter hold that since God is formless and beyond human comprehension, people should meditate on the formless Reality rather than pictures or statues. It is certainly true that God is beyond the comprehension of the limited human mind. And it is also true that in the past, people have engaged in idol worship of statues rather than focusing on their inner life. However, for thousands of years statues and pictures have served as an inspiration for many spiritual seekers to reach the highest. When we look at a stature or a picture of a great spiritual master, we feel tremendous peace and love emanating from his features, which inspires us to pursue our prayers and meditations to find the Source of that peace and love.

One of the main obstacles on the spiritual path is doubt: at times the limiting mind clouds our view and we doubt that God really exists, but more often we doubt ourselves, we doubt that it is possible for us or indeed any human being to overcome the defects of our nature and reach the Highest. However, if we know of people who have reached that goal, we become surcharged with new inspiration, and we are filled again with determination to climb the mountain that these saints have successfully scaled. Even people who have no connection with spirituality whatsoever nowadays often have a Buddha statue in their houses: the statue creates a sense of peace and serenity, and indeed perhaps it may in future inspire them if they decide want to explore the inner life more fully.

In recent years, photographs of great spiritual teachers have become an invaluable resource for their students, especially when they are physically separated from the master. When they meditate on the photograph, they are not meditating on the physical person of the master, they are meditating on the meditative consciousness which through years of meditation has risen above all earthly fetters to become one with the highest. Through this meditation, they get a glimpse into this vast state of oneness with God, which inspires them to press ahead in their own spiritual journey until they can reach that state for themselves.


2007-08-28 02:40 | Posted by Olga | I am awed by the maturity and insight that the author shows while contemplating on the subject of approaching God. Even more simple is turning our attention toward our inner being, and, in this way, expanding our consciousness. This will bring us to the Source of all things. The statues and pictures can sometimes pull our attention off, but they can certainly be beneficial in the beginnings of one’s meditativeness.

Comments are closed.