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Today, daruma dolls are used and cherished as a symbol of good luck and future fortune, commonly placed on a shelf at home or in a business. Before putting them on display, however, the owner must make a wish that they hope will come true, or something they aim to work towards in their own life, before colouring in one eye, marking the wish. It doesn’t actually matter which eye is filled in first, but conventionally, the daruma’s left eye is the more popular choice. Once the wish has come to fruition, the other eye is coloured in and the daruma is complete. But where did this tradition of making wishes and promises on daruma come from?


Daruma are modelled after the Bodhidharma, a Chinese Buddhist monk from the 5th century who became the patriarch of the school of Chan Buddhism in China. And though he was Chinese, he is revered in Japan because what the Chinese know as Chan Buddhism became Zen Buddhism in Japan. And even those of us with no real knowledge of Buddhism are still aware of the importance of Zen in Japanese culture.


We’ve established that daruma are good luck talismans but there’s a little more to it than simply making a wish. In fact, daruma aren’t really about granting wishes; that’s not in the spirit of Buddhism nor any Japanese philosophy. The true meaning of daruma is as a reminder of self-perseverance, focus, and discipline.


The school of Chan/Zen Buddhism which Bodhidharma started is one that values self-discipline, and the practice of buying and using a daruma is less about making a wish and more about having a talisman that serves as a reminder of your own life goals. Drawing in the eye of the daruma is not a wish; it is a promise to yourself that you will follow your dream and achieve your goal, whatever obstacles may come your way and whatever pitfalls you might have to climb out of as you continue along your journey.


Information above courtesy of

Green Aventurine Daruma Doll

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