A Cup, a Chain and a Statue by Eleanor T. Cheslak


            Three words form the circle that is the Sigma Phi Gamma logo.  These words, “Friendship, Community, Service” represent the essence and/or goals of the Sorority as well as the dedication of its members.  Our Pledge and Creed confirm these commitments.

            Further evidence of these intentions is represented by three objects; the loving cup, the chain of friendship and the Buddha statue, found on the crest which was designed by the Founders one hundred years ago.  The loving cup is often used at wedding ceremonies to signify love, togetherness and family.  When repeating our Pledge we say, “I PLEDGE TO PROMOTE FRATERNAL FEELINGS.”

            The second symbol on the crest is the chain of friendship which dates back to 1916 and a cartoon published during the First World War.  The cartoon depicts one nation coming to the defense of another forming a chain.  Thus we say, “I PLEDGE TO DO ALL I CAN TO HELP A SISTER.”

            The third object pictured on the crest is a Buddha statue.  In order to understand the reason for its inclusion, we must answer two questions.  Is the Buddha statue the symbol of Buddhism and is Buddhism a religion?  The answer to the first question is “no”, the symbol most often used is the lotus flower.  However there are several symbols used such as The 8 Spoked Wheel, and Two Golden Fish.  In order to answer the second question, we must go back in history to 500 BC to the first Buddha.  Siddhartha Gautoma was the son of a nobleman in northern India.  He was a philosopher who denied the ancient deist beliefs.  Siddhartha traveled the countryside searching for and contemplating the meaning of life and death—a beginning and an ending.  His thoughts were more closely related to science than religion.  It is said that he reached enlightenment.  Therefore, a Buddha is simply defined as an enlightened person.

            In order to answer the second question, we must look to the definition of religion.  The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as: “The belief in a god or a group of gods: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules used to worship a god or group of gods.”  Buddhism does not fit this definition since Buddhists do not look or pray to a god, a belief, or a doctrine.  Instead, it is a system of meditation concerning awareness and meaning of life especially the concepts of generosity and good thoughts and deeds.  These concepts are basic to our fulfillment in life. Generosity is the  basis of compassion and the greatest gift to us is the act of giving itself.

            Ghandi referred to this concept when asked the question, “Why do you serve all these people?”  He answered, “I don’t give to anyone.  I do it all for myself.”

            As a Sorority, we are dedicated to community service and our Creed states, “MY DONIMANT DESIRE IS TO RENDER A SERVICE AS GREAT AS LIES WITHIN MY POWER AND TO RENDER THAT SERVICE TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.”

By Eleanor T. Cheslak

7 thoughts on “A Cup, a Chain and a Statue by Eleanor T. Cheslak”

  1. Thank you Eleanor. What a wonderful article. We are so proud of you and so blessed to have you as a Xi Phi sister.

  2. Eleanor, I enjoyed your comments on our logo & Crest. Seeing SPG through the eyes of a new member is refreshing! Xi Phi Chapter, Eleanor is a keeper!

  3. Eleanor was one of Xi Phi’s most recent pledges and I happened to be her Pledge Mistress. During one of our study sessions we were discussing the Buddah. There were many inquisitive questions and Eleanor said I think I would like to research that. I encouraged her to do so as there have been a lot of questions about it thoughout the years. I think she did a magnificent job and I think Pledge Mistresses could keep this in their notebook for future reference. Thank you Eleanor for your dedication.

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