A temple's main cultivation hall issimilar to a large meeting or teaching hall. In the center of the main cultivation hall, there are three statues, one Buddha and two Bodhisattvas. Buddha and Bodhisattva statues do not represent polytheism, the worship of more than one god. Each statue serves to inspire wisdom and awakening in each of us. They also represent certain aspects of Buddhism, which remind practitioners of the particular topic of teaching. For example, the Pure Land School pays respect to the Buddha and two Bodhisattvas of the Western Pure Land. Amitabha Buddha (Infinite Life and Infinite Light) represents the infinite enlightenment that is an intrinsic part of our nature. Bodhisattvas Guan Yin and Da Shi Zhi (Great Strength or Mahasthamaprapta) respectively portray compassion with kindness and great wisdom. We should be compassionate and kind toward all beings. Our thoughts, views and behavior should be rational rather than emotional, for emotional behavior spells trouble. Therefore, statues in Buddhism are teaching aids and not statues of gods. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas represent our nature and cultivation of virtue. We have infinite capabilities within our true nature that cannot be expressed by just one single term. Therefore, we have multiple representations; for instance, a capable person today may have many titles on his/her business cards to show his/her positions and accomplishments.
But will Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help us? Yes, they will by providing us with the knowledge of how to protect ourselves from delusion, thereby obtaining release from suffering.
From left: Bodhisattvas Da Shi Zhi, Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattvas Guan Yin