Meaning of Holding One’s Palms Together

Update: 07/06/2015
In monastery, Holding One’s Palms together is a common way to pay honor to the Triratna (Three gems): Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as well as the way to bow greeting to each other in temple.

Meaning of Holding One’s Palms Together

In some oriental countries, clasping one’s hands is a special cultural behavior but it has some meaning in Buddhism.

Here are the 16 meanings of Holding One’s Palms Together:

1. The two palms are put together showing for peace, friendliness, unity and cooperation, non- fight and hurt to others.

2. The space between two hands expresses the empty idea (sunyata). It means we should apprehend the immateriality of the nature of all things.

3. Closing of two palms shows the ceasing of all discrimination, no more foundation (alambana), no more karma of greed, hatred and delusion is created.

4. The back of hands are out show the six external bases- spheres; the palms are in show awakened mind so putting hands together means to be against phenomenal defilements and return to the original and pure mind.

5. The right and left hand are recognized by errornous thinking and tendency for settling down the mind, even though it is left or right they are unreal and false. When the two palms are put together, there is no more left and right, non- discriminating and equal in oneness.

6. The closing of ten fingers show the ten dharma-worlds into one mind; everything is created and changed by mind.

7. The ten fingers show the ten directions; so putting two palms in front of the chest expresses the equality of the ten dharma-worlds’ beings, which also means to subdue them to Buddhism. In addition, the ten fingers also express the Buddha’s world in ten directions so putting hands in front of the chest we will offer our mind to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten dharma-worlds as well as receive their merit to adorn and accomplish morality. 


8. That Buddhists put their palms together saying “Amitabha” when they meet each other is the meaning of taking refuge in the aspiration of Amitabha Buddha to attain the Buddha vehicle. It also expresses the ten Buddha’s worlds which praises of Amitabha Buddha and appraises the Pure Land sect.

9. The ten fingers are in front of the chest show the meaning of practicing ten paramitas - the way becoming a Buddha. Besides that Ten vows of Samantabhadra in Avatamsaka-sùtra expresses for all-inclusion; therefore, the putting together of ten fingers is the expression of ability of complete perfection the state of Buddhahood.

10. The left hand is normal in statics symbolizing “comprehension”, the right hand is normal in kinetics for “practice”; two hands put together expresses the unify of comprehension and practice, just like that we can attain enlightenment.

11. The left hand is in statics expressing “self-awaken”; the right hand is in kinetics for “awake others”; two hands are put together,  expressing the combination of self-awaken and awaken others is the Bodhisatva way, just like that to complete the enlightenment for self and others.


12. The left hand expresses “vow”, right hand expresses “action”, two hands put together shows for unity of vow and action, taking vow to start action, taking action to gain vow, such like that the great vow will be completed.

13. Putting the two hands shows the equality in all phenomena, no high or low. Zen and Pure Land are not two; Tantrism and Pure Land are also same, different methods but the same in nature and purpose.

14. Two hands become one expressing “identical idea”, affliction and enlightenment fundamentally are same, self-action and save others are same, nature and phenomena are not different…

15. Two hands are put in the middle of chest expresses the Middle Path idea, out of the two attachments of eternity and nihility, existence and non-existence.

16. The shape of putting two hands together looks like flower bud which expresses for fundamental cause of cultivating. When the flower blooms out, it is the time of accomplished enlightenment.

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