Pandas are undeniably among the cutest, cuddliest and most adorable of animals, but to many people, they also hold deeper spiritual meaning. So, to help you understand more, in this post, we discuss the question, what do pandas symbolize?
What are the characteristics of pandas?
Before we can talk about what pandas symbolize, we need to discuss their most prominent characteristics to help us understand why they symbolize what they do.
Pandas are bears, but unlike other species, their diet consists mainly of bamboo – although they are known to eat small amounts of fruit and even meat when available. They are slow-moving and generally docile creatures with a peaceful nature.
Most people think of pandas as big, cuddly animals, and their distinct black and white fur with a white head and black eyes only adds to this.
In captivity, they seem playful and joyful creatures – who hasn’t seen countless adorable videos online of pandas rolling around doing panda things?
Finally, Pandas are endemic to China – specifically to Sichuan province along with neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces – and for this reason, they are inextricably linked with this country.
What Do Pandas Symbolize?
One of the first things that spring to mind when we think of pandas is peace, and this is something they have long symbolized.
In their natural habitat, pandas spend most of their time munching on bamboo in serene bamboo forests. They never seek conflict, and they will avoid it as much as possible, only fighting when they have no other choice.
Indeed, even since ancient times, pandas have been used to reinforce friendly relations. As early as the Tang dynasty, it is thought that the Chinese emperor Taizhong sent two pandas to Japan as a sign of goodwill.
More recently, in the 1970s, pandas were sent to the US and Japan, again as a symbol of peace and goodwill, in what became known as “panda diplomacy”.
Due to their black and white markings, pandas are also seen as symbolizing balance – and this is related to the ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang.
Although you are unlikely to see a panda in the flesh unless you go to the zoo, pandas may begin appearing in your life in other ways such as on television, in magazines or on your social media feeds.
If you notice pandas popping up more often than usual, you should ask yourself whether the universe is trying to tell you something about the balance in your life.
Do you have a healthy work-life balance or are you spending too much time on your career, to the detriment of your family and friends?
Or perhaps you are concentrating too much on the physical aspects of life and have been neglecting the spiritual side of your existence.
To lead a happy, healthy and fulfilled life, we need to find the right balance in all things, like the balance between work and play, or the balance between the physical and the spiritual.
As a result, the panda may show up in your life as a message that you need to reassess how you are living your life – and seek to rebalance the various elements if you find that your equilibrium has been lost.
Contemplation and self-awareness
Although pandas can stay in groups – young pandas stick close to their mothers, and pandas also need to come together to breed – much of their time is spent alone. For this reason, they can also represent solitude, contemplation and the value of spending time alone.
Of course, nobody is suggesting that pandas are themselves great thinkers. However, the fact that they spend so much time alone in the forest teaches the value of seeking “alone time” for deep thought and meditation.
It is important to escape the sometimes frenetic pace of modern life where we are constantly surrounded by distractions and other people. This gives us more time for introspection, which allows us to become more self-aware and develop our spiritual mindfulness.
Panda’s propensity to spend time alone in the forest can also represent something else – and that is our need to maintain our personal boundaries.
When pandas are alone in the forest, it isn’t because they don’t have any “friends” but rather because they want to be left alone, unbothered and in peace.
All they want to do is enjoy the bamboo they’re eating without being disturbed by others, and this can remind us that we should also set up and reinforce our own personal boundaries.
At the same time, if somebody else wants to be left alone, we shouldn’t invade their boundaries or impose on their need for quiet but rather, we should give them the space they need.
Patience and wisdom
Pandas have to eat a huge amount of bamboo each day to obtain the nourishment needed to live, but they go about this in a dignified, unhurried fashion rather than rushing around and wasting their energy – which would only mean they needed to eat more.
As a result, pandas can also be seen as representing patience and wisdom since they know the value of taking their time.
Again, nobody is suggesting that pandas themselves are particularly wise creatures – least of all, anybody who has seen them rolling down hills or falling off logs or out of trees in YouTube videos!
However, their calm demeanor as they go about their daily task of searching for and consuming their favorite food represents patience and wisdom.
This means if pandas begin appearing in our lives, we should consider how applying this same kind of patience and wisdom would benefit us rather than rushing around all the time and acting with very little thought.
Similarly, pandas can teach us the value of focus due to the single-minded pursuit of their favorite food.
Pandas have very little else to do with their days other than find and devour bamboo. As noted above, they need a large amount of bamboo to provide their necessary sustenance, and if they wasted their time doing other things, they would probably starve.
Instead, they dedicate a large portion of their day to one single job, and this is the secret to their success.
The lesson we can draw from this is that if we want to achieve our goals, we should pursue them with the single-minded dedication of a panda because if we allow ourselves to become distracted, we will never realize our dreams.
Enjoy the simple things in life
Pandas don’t waste their time looking for lots of different types of food to satisfy their exotic foodie cravings. Rather, they are content to spend all day, every day munching on the same simple type of food.
This behavior symbolizes an ability to take satisfaction from what we have and to enjoy the simple things in life rather than always seeking more elaborate, decadent pleasures.
We’ve already alluded to pandas’ seemingly playful – and sometimes goofy – behavior, and this should remind us that we shouldn’t take life too seriously.
Yes, there are times when we need to work hard or shoulder certain responsibilities, but there are also times for fun and games when we need to let our hair down and roll around on the floor like a panda – metaphorically speaking, of course!
Many people see pandas as representing good luck, specifically in terms of financial good fortune. This means if you come across representations of pandas in your daily life, it could mean that you are about to come into some money.
Vegetarianism and veganism
Most people think of pandas as cute and playful animals that love eating bamboo – but perhaps fewer people realize that physiologically, their bodies are more “set up” to eat meat.
Evolutionarily, pandas are much like other bears in that they are more suited to an omnivorous diet that includes much more meat than they eat.
If they ate meat, they would be able to receive the required amount of nutrition far more quickly and easily than if they just ate bamboo, but at some point in their history, they “decided” to switch almost entirely to bamboo instead.
This means some people see them as representing the choice of becoming vegetarian or vegan – because if a naturally omnivorous bear can choose to become vegetarian, then so can we!
The symbol of China
The panda is an iconic symbol of China. Pandas are endemic to China, and the Chinese are very proud of their association with this famous cute and cuddly bear.
This means the panda has often been used as an emblem of China, for example as one of the Fuwa mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
A cute animal with varied symbolism
As we have seen, pandas can symbolize a range of different things. Most commonly, they symbolize peace or balance, but they can also symbolize things like alone time, contemplation, patience or even veganism.
If pandas have started appearing in your life but you don’t know why, spend time considering which of these meanings could apply to you, and then, by following your intuition, you will come to understand the message the panda is trying to bring to you.