"Mudra or Mudras are hand positions often depicted in Buddhist art and used in practice to evoke a particular state of mind. The most notable mudras (Sanskrit, “seal” or “sign”) are those commonly found in representations of the Buddha: hands folded in the lap signify meditation; a palm held up facing outward signifies the act of teaching or reassurance; an open palm pointed downward signifies generosity.
In the Vajrayana school, mudras assume an esoteric significance and are usually combined with mantra(recitation) and tantric visualization. In the Zen school of Mahayana Buddhism, which is relatively bare of esoteric rituals, two important positions, the dhyani, or meditation mudra (formed with the hands held in an oval), and the anjali, or greeting mudra (palms held together at chest level), nevertheless remain important elements of daily practice.
Every mudra has both an outer/symbolic and an inner/experiential function, for it communicates at once, both to the person who performs them and to the observer, aspects of the enlightened mind. The names are given in the original Sanskrit."
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