TheAṅguttara Nikāya, orThe Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, recounts when the Buddha, after attaining awakening, gave rise to the aspiration to share his new-found insight with his mother, Maya, who abided in the god realms. To share the Dharma with his mother, the Buddha traveled to Trāyastriṃśa Heaven. While visiting his mother, the Buddha and his teachings were absent from this world. To King Udayana, the Buddha’s absence was unbearable. Out of his great longing and devotion, the King commissioned a statue of the Buddha to be crafted. After three months, Buddha descended back fromTrāyastriṃśa, and the King presented the statue to the Buddha, who in turn preached the virtue of producing and venerating such statues and images.
From Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's advice on shamatha and vipashyana practice:
Either focus on the image of the Buddha as a whole, or in particular, focus on the unending uṣṇīṣa, the crown of the Buddha’s head, in order to attain the truth of the Noble Ones and pacify dullness. Or to attain samadhi and pacify agitation, focus your attention on the glorious knot at his heart center. Or to accomplish great merit and feel at ease, focus your attention on the clockwise turning coil of white hair between his eyebrows. Or to make throughout the world the great melody of Dharma pervade by teaching the Dharma to beings, focus you attention on the three lines at his throat center, the source of the sixty qualities of melodious speech, called ‘the conch of Dharma.’ Wherever you wish to focus your attention, remain right there.
- 8.5 in by 5.5 in, 3.4 lb