Scholar David Fiordalis unpacks the meaning behind the Buddha’s wondrous smile.
The Buddha’s smile is a subject of interest and interpretation. The meaning behind the Buddha’s smile has been explored by scholars and practitioners alike. According to David Fiordalis, the Buddha’s smile can be understood in the context of genuine and social smiles. Genuine smiles are involuntary & spontaneous, while social smiles are voluntary & can mask emotions or thoughts. The Buddha’s smile is often depicted as genuine, involving the contraction of the muscle that pulls up the cheeks and makes the corners of the eyes bunch together.
In Buddhist literature, the Buddha’s smile is associated with various explanations. In some narratives, the Buddha’s smile is followed by an explanation of something in the distant past that only the Buddha knows or a prediction about the future (awakening of someone as a Buddha). The light rays that emerge from the Buddha’s mouth are also said to indicate the general reason for the Buddha’s smile. The Buddha’s smile is often seen as a reflection of inner equanimity and compassion. It is described as a smile that arises from making peace with oneself and the world, while actively practicing compassion and wisdom to benefit all beings. The Buddha’s contemporaries described him as “ever-smiling,” emphasizing the deep equanimity that his smile represents.
While the specific reasons or circumstances for the Buddha’s smile may vary, it is generally associated with wisdom, compassion, and the realization of inner peace.
Click the link for Scholar David Fiordalis to unpack the meaning behind the Buddha’s wondrous smile.