Many people find comfort and power in inanimate objects along with other items, icons and anicons play a significant role in comforting and giving faith to Buddhists. These representations provide a sense of unity and community for all people. Having similar images which practitioners and lay people use provokes a feeling of connectedness to Buddha, and a sense of connectedness to each other as well. Buddhists also gain strength from images that they worship, and use anicons such as prayer flags or the wheel of dharma to continue their devotion. As modernization continues, so does the modernizations of icons and anicons, such as anime characters or representations of Buddha as a robot. While the religious teachings stress the idea of the impermanence of all things, icons that represent Buddhist concepts like karuna, upaya, and duhkha, provide some foundation and guidance for its practitioners, helping renouncers and lay people alike in their journey to find enlightenment.
One such example of the concept of anicons are prayer flags, typically hung across the Himalayas used to bless the surrounding area, “promot[ing] good fortune and dispel[ing] danger” (Lopez, Jr. 583). One of the most common prayer flags in Vajrayana Buddhism is the prayer to twenty-one taras. Tara, who was born from a tear shed by a bodhisattva looking at the suffering world, is said to be the “quintessence of all the compassion of all the Buddha’s” (Lopez, Jr. 583). Tara, the bodhisattva of compassion or