On almost all Buddhist shrines (stupas) in Nepal, there is a pair of giant eyes looking out from all four directions. These are the eyes of the Lord Buddha, also known as wisdom eyes, and a national symbol of Nepal.
It represents Buddha’s omniscience, serving as a reminder to us to cultivate compassion towards all living things, and to be mindful of our actions.
The curl that resembles a question mark beneath the eyes is the Nepali character for ‘1’, signifying oneness, truth and reality. Above the eyes is small circle known as the third eye, or spiritual eye, which represents the Buddha’s all-seeing wisdom.
The Buddha’s eyes is one of the few religious tattoo symbols not to be taken lightly. Inked on the body, it is a bold image that ‘stares’ back at anyone who looks at the bearer. However, it is not a look criticism or appreciation, nor is it loving gaze or an indifferent glare. The stare of the wisdom eyes is a look of detachment. It does not scrutinize or judge. It is devoid of ego, infatuation and desire. It is eyes that simply witness, distinguishing the difference between appearance and reality.