A Daruma is a representation of Zen Buddhism founder Bodhidharma.
He is basically just a round head because, as the story goes, the Bodhidharma went to cave to pray and sat there for nine years – so long that, supposedly, his arms and legs atrophied and fell off.
They are traditionally red, like the red robes of the Bodhidharma, and represent good luck and good fortune. There are also white (love and harmony), yellow (security and protection), purple (health and longevity), and gold (wealth and prosperity) Daruma.
When you get one, both eyes are blank. Once a specific desire is determined, one eye is coloured in (either one, but I’ve noticed Japanese people tend to fill in the right one – probably because they read right to left). Once the wish comes true, the other eye is filled in.
Originally a child’s toy, Daruma dolls came to represent wish fulfilment. Some people see it as praying TO Daruma to answer their prayer, but I see it as asking Daruma for assistance in achieving it yourself. I am relying on him not to do what I know I can (and should) do for myself, but to offer motivation to keep me on track. By filling in the eye, Daruma helps bear the weight of your prayer. You still need to be the one to achieve your goal by doing the work, but he is there with you, cheering you on and reminding you to hold your focus. To have something you want handed to you is nice but working hard, overcoming obstacles in your way, not giving up and getting what you deserve in the end is far more satisfying.
Here’s how I think having a Daruma is motivating:
*The fact that he prayed for so long is inspiration to not give up praying, no matter how long it takes.
*Like a Weeble, you push him over and he gets back up. You can’t keep him from reaching his goal. In Japanese, there is an expression 七転び八起き “nanakorobi yaoki” – meaning ‘seven times fall, eight times rise’.
*Having a physical representation of your commitment to what you are reaching for is a great way to keep you focused. Seeing your Daruma everyday helps. You can’t forget about what you want.
*And finally, once the goal is fulfilled, he sees “with both eyes open”. He is enlightened. He fully understands what it takes to make one’s desires a reality and the joy that comes from doing it. Therefore, so do you.
And there are some pictures I like on my Pinterest board (along with Buddha and Jizo) ~ here.