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Statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas personify the Compassion and Wisdom that lie at the heart of all existence. And they remind us of those who have realized the highest Truth and who point the Way for us, and of our own potential to follow in their footsteps. The mudras—physical postures and positions of the hands—of various statues express and symbolize different aspects of spiritual training and enlightenment. A statue or painting of a Buddha is called in Sanskrit a "Buddharupa," meaning "the form of an Enlightened One." Buddhists have used such images for thousands of years to show how the Truth can be found within oneself through the practice of meditation and spiritual training. Thus, a statue of Shakyamuni does more than commemorate an historical figure; it is a reminder of the spiritual potential inherent within all of us to awaken to the Truth as He, a fellow human being, did. Buddhists usually place figures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on their altars. Bowing and offering incense at these altars expresses both the recognition of the sublime spiritual qualities shown by these statues and the aspiration to manifest these same qualities within ourselves. Statues and pictures representing Shakyamuni Buddha provide a visual reminder of the life, training, enlightenment and teaching of the man in whose footsteps all Buddhists aspire to follow. For many Buddhists, statues and pictures of Shakyamuni Buddha also represent our own Buddha Nature, as well as our own capacity to awaken to, and live in harmony with, this True Nature. Regardless of the particular aspects of training and enlightenment personified by any Buddha or Bodhisattva, the deeper meaning of all such images is that they represent the Buddha Nature Itself.