For years we have used daruma dolls in our dojo to help us articulate our goals and remind us to work hard to achieve them. Sensei Cindy Gobillot has gathered the following information about them:
One of the most popular talismans of good luck in modern Japan is the armless, legless and eyeless Daruma Doll.
Daruma dolls are said to represent the priest, Bodhidharma, a 6 th century Indian priest considered the founder of Chinese/Zen Buddhism. Bodhidharma is reputed to have spent 9 years meditating in a cave and praying without moving or blinking his eyes until he lost the use of his arms and legs, so the daruma dolls do not have limbs or eyes. They are weighted at the base so that they do not fall over, reflecting perseverance and success after misfortune that Bodhidharma strove to promote. The red is the red of his priest robe and the name, daruma, is an abbreviated version of the priest's name.
New daruma do not have eyes painted on them as Bodhidharma used his inner vision rather than ‘physical' sight. Instead, large, white circles are painted onto the doll's head. There are two theories about daruma eyes and luck. One claims that, when you make a wish, you would paint in the left eye (the left one when you are facing the doll), and when the wish comes true, you should paint in the other eye. The other claims that you should buy a daruma when something good happens to you and paint in the one eye. You paint in the other when the next lucky thing happens. You are also supposed to start with a small daruma and buy slightly larger ones each time, taking the finished daruma to a shrine where it is burnt with other daruma as an offering. This practice is particularly common at the New Year where daruma purchased the previous year are burnt at shrines and a new one is purchased for the incoming year.
In Japan , there is even a common saying about the daruma:”Seven times pushed over, the eighth time it rises” Nana (7) karobi (stumble), ya (8) oki (get up). The daruma is intended to teach dedication and persistence, to rise no matter how many times we stumble or fall – to never give up.
…keep moving forward.
We have purchased our daruma at a small shop in Edgewater, NJ. The shop's website is littlejapanusa.com.