Monthly Archives: March 2015

How a Weeping Buddha Works

weepingbuddha

Many of us have seen wooden carvings of weeping men curled up in a ball carved from a single piece of wood. They can be any size but are often around the size of a fist. It is said to be a good practice piece for apprentice wood carvers because it allows them to learn how to carve the larger, easier features of limbs and musculature without having to create the more difficult features of the face. As for the meaning of the image, some say that there is so much pain and suffering in the world, Buddha weeps so we don’t have to. Others spin a tale about a warrior who fought a masked opponent and only discovered after defeating him that his opponent was his own long-lost son. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs or lack thereof, this sculpted image can be used as a powerful tool.

The weeping yogi can help people who suffer from depression to externalize their crippling pain. Many who suffer from the pain of depressive mental illness have a great deal of difficulty in understanding that their pain is not an integral part of their personality. Developing an awareness that “you are not your feelings” and also that “you are not your thoughts” is crucial in gaining control of your unruly mind. In order to benefit from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or related treatments, it is important to learn how to take a mental step back and become an observer of your own thoughts and feelings.

By holding this little carving in their hands, conceptualizing the pain that it represents and observing that pain as being outside of themselves, sufferers may be able to take that necessary step back from their own pain. They may imagine that their little wooden buddy is feeling their own negative emotions and they may want to stroke his back in order to comfort him because they know how badly it hurts. This may put them in touch with their own compassion, not for a block of wood, but for themselves. It may even release a flood of cleansing tears that will wash some of that pain away. If used properly, a weeping Buddha isn’t a “magical” talisman but a functional mnemonic device that can help comfort people who are struggling to cope with psychological pain.

If you experiment with this technique, please share your experience or results in the comments.