The logo is not just a design of your company, or something to identify with—thinking in this way has no meaning, and it is very uninteresting, boring.
The Tibetan government and lamas understand that the logo has great meaning and significance. In Tibet many lamas used the eight auspicious signs in their logos and Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had a wish-fulfilling vase (the significance of the wish-fulfilling vase is that you become wish-fulfilling to all sentient beings.)
I would like to advise all FPMT centers, projects and services that the main implement in the logo can be one of the eight auspicious signs. This is because each of the eight auspicious signs have great meaning, so any of them can be used as the main implement in the logo.
Then apart from the main implement, all logos should have:
A pile of jewels
This has two meanings: one is to have wealth—not only external wealth, but inner wealth: the wealth of Dharma understanding and realizations. Also for all the Sangha to be able to fulfill the wishes of all sentient beings. Then the second meaning is to become wish-fulfilling for all sentient beings. This creates the cause to have success and to have all the realizations from guru devotion up to enlightenment and to be able to fulfill the wishes of all sentient beings.
If the main implement is of wealth, the logo must include some drawing symbolizing Dharma (ie, a text).
This signifies the place and sentient beings in this world and in other worlds. The implement being on the world signifies that the center, service and project exists to benefit all sentient beings, the whole world, and that the whole world is supporting the center, service and project.
Signifies coming out of the mud, and that sentient beings' minds are in nature pure, unstained by true existence, like the lotus born from mud but unstained. The lotus also signifies the Sangha—the pure monks and nuns—being wish-fulfilling for all beings and bringing all sentient beings to achieve the whole path to enlightenment.
A bodhi leaf
This signifies that bodhicitta is your heart practice; your aim is to benefit sentient beings, to develop your center, service and project to cause all sentient beings to have bodhicitta. Also that bodhicitta is the main aim of your center, service and project. It also signifies that all practices on the path to enlightenment, from guru devotion up to enlightenment, must come from the good heart—bodhicitta—the thought of benefitting others. The bodhi leaf also signifies that the way you guide numberless sentient beings is with bodhicitta, the good heart: that the main goal (of your center, service, project, monastery, nunnery and even country) is to benefit sentient beings and therefore everything you do in your life is with bodhicitta, whether you are teaching, listening, reflecting, from beginning to end, it is done with bodhicitta, including eating, sleeping, walking, sitting, everything is harmonized with bodhicitta, the wish to achieve enlightenment to liberate numberless sentient beings from the lower realms and to bring them to full enlightenment.
You can either have one bodhi leaf behind, or many smaller bodhi leaves—you can see a few examples in logos that I have already designed.
Beams emitting from the bodhi leaf
Signify spreading the light of Dharma in the ten directions to all sentient beings and dispelling the darkness of all sentient beings.
Sometimes the main implement of the logo is a text, sword, or bell and vajra (sometimes together and sometimes separately). These implements are very auspicious and each has special significance.
A sword signifies in particular Lama Tsongkhapa’s unmistaken right view, understanding the middle way, also cutting the root of samsara and revealing the truth to others. The sword of wisdom realizing emptiness cuts the root of samsara for oneself and for all sentient beings. This is the same significance of the sword that Lama Tsongkhapa and Manjrushri are holding.
A text signifies the text which reveals the whole path to enlightenment via listening, reflecting and meditating on it. Also understanding the teachings and being able to achieve the whole path. It also signifies what is explained by Buddha in the text.
A bell and vajra signify method and wisdom—the same as is explained in sadhanas.
Beams radiating out from an implement signify that the center, service and project are continually benefiting sentient beings. The beams signify that everyone who comes there receives all realizations, and that the center, service and project will continually benefit sentient beings up to enlightenment, liberate all sentient beings without effort, spontaneously, from all the sufferings by eliminating the darkness of ignorance on the mental continuum, by the light of Dharma. This is the same as in a sadhana when Buddha sends beams of light out, eliminating all the defilements etc.
Signify strength—to be very strong in one’s heart and mind, strong in Dharma practice, strong in higher training—morality, the vows, higher concentration, wisdom, also to overcome all the obstacles—the inner obstacles, delusions and the outer obstacles, such as financial needs.
Dragons are very, very important in logos and you need to have a dragon on each side. It is very important for the logos to have dragons, this makes the center, service and project very stable and strong and this benefits the whole organization, it makes the organization become strong. This is similar to advice that I have given in the past on the reason why centers, projects and services should have dragons outside on the front door. It makes the center, service and project very strong.
For example, Bhutan has a dragon on its money, and even though it is a very tiny country, it has always stayed strong, it has not been taken over by India or China and also the Dharma has stayed very strong in Bhutan. Singapore also has dragons on its money.
The dragons must hold a jewel in each hand, it is very important they are not empty handed. The dragons need to be very clear, vivid and not messy. It is best if the dragons are embossed.
Then you can have a banner below the logo with the name of the center, service and project or you can have Dharma words or a quote in the banner.
All the logos that I have designed for centers have these similar things—except my own logo and the logo of Kopan—these two logos have a garuda and in its heart is a vajra radiating light. Later I added dragons around my logo. My own logo has one line from Arya-mañjushri-nama-samgiti, it says: The doer who is doing works for sentient beings.
So this is just a general idea for all logos. When a center, service or project asks someone to create a logo, it is important that it is a good artist, Tibetan or Western. They can use the above as a basis, and in addition they can beautify the logo overall with flowers, birds, the eight auspicious signs below the banner, or a quote/Dharma words below the banner.
It would be best if the logo was embossed, and definitely not light or fading in color. If the logo is embossed this helps for the center to become strong.
If the center, service or project is going to create a logo, it is important to first check if the same logo has been created already, so as not to have duplicate logos.
I want everyone to understand the meaning and significance of logos, because I am now seeing some centers, services and projects are creating funny logos. It seems they have no real idea of the meaning and significance of the logos.
Colophon: Scribe Holly Ansett, Buddha Amitabha Pure Land, WA, USA 19 Nov 2010; lightly edited by Claire Isitt, 28 Jan 2011.
In brief, Rinpoche’s advice is for FPMT logos ideally to include these elements:
- A main implement, which can be one of the eight auspicious symbols or a text, sword, vajra and bell, or other appropriate symbol
- A pile of jewels
- The world
- A lotus
- A bodhi leaf/leaves emitting beams
- A dragon on each side holding a jewel in each hand