Buddhist Handreading

Posted December 10th, 2019

I am often asked about the difference between palmistry and the approach to handreading that I take, to which I usually reply that what I do can best be described as Buddhist Handreading. There are a number of different factors that create that emphasis, not least because I have been a Buddhist since 1983.

There has been a long interest in the hands within Buddhism and the hands in Buddhist statuary have always been engraved with line formations. That there is an awareness of the significance of these markings is not mere serendipity. The use of ritualised hand gestures, or Mudra, form an extremely important part of Buddhist artistic and devotional expression, so it is unsurprising that great attention has been placed on the detail of the fingers and line formations of the hands.

At many Buddhist Monasteries, you can find the stylised architectural reliquaries known as Stupas. The Stupa is a geometric symbol of the Five Elements Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether referred to as the Maha Bhuta within Buddhist Abhidharma. The Abhidharma literature concerns itself with the analysis and evaluation of the psycho-physiological components of consciousness known as the skandhas. The skandhas themselves are manifestations of the five elements. Understanding how consciousness arises and how the sense of self is created is an essential component of Buddhist meditational enquiry. It is also at the very heart of the analysis of the hands.

The essential nature of the practice of handreading is to help reduce the suffering of others, whether that be through health diagnosis, emotional evaluation or a psychological assessment of your personality and character. And as such, the practice of handreading is an expression of the Bodhisattva Vow to reduce the suffering of sentient beings.

It is wisdom in action; it is compassion.

Faith Belief, Knowledge and Wisdom

In Buddhism, emphasis is placed on seeing and knowing and not on faith or belief. Beliefs are what you think is true, faith is what you hope is true.

Beliefs are functionally a correlate to doubt. People who have strongly held beliefs are psychologically afflicted by intense doubt. Belief arises when there is no seeing or knowing and is an expression of a dualised orientation to experience.

Faith *can* denote a positive attitude that you are trusting enough to take on board something new and unfamiliar so that you can explore it, look at it, criticise it, experience it. But, unfortunately, it more often describes a function of personal psychology where one gives over ones power to others (a teacher, a guru, a god etc) as a strategy to avoid a critical evaluation of experience and/or as a strategy to avoid the discomfort of no-knowing. The more strongly one does this, the more like belief faith becomes.

Beliefs (and faith) limit what you can know and experience. If you are committed to a path of truth, you have to be able to sit with no beliefs, calm and contented and open.

Within Buddhism, the word used for ‘faith’ is ‘sraddha’, which literally translates as ‘confidence’. Its good to have confidence in your teacher, guru or god, but that confidence should be born out by experience, understanding and, most of all, insight.

From experience, we can know what is true (although there does need to be some evaluation of what it is that does the experiencing, what it is that is experienced and, indeed, how that experiencing occurs….).

From evaluation and reflection, we can understand what is true. (and here again, there needs to be a rigorous examination of the preconceived notions that we hold – and an evaluation of the very processes by which that thinking and understanding arises…)

Through insight we can just see it.

So we have belief, faith, experience, reflection and insight.
Only one of these leads to Wisdom.