Images of Buddhas

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism

Images of Buddhas

Postby Hunter » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:57 pm

When I practiced Mahayana, before i began to practice Theravada, The images of Buddhas were to be treated as if they were the Buddhas themselves. Im now wondering, how are the images of Buddhas treated in Theravada. I also read somewhere that if someone mistreats the image of a Buddha, there can be negative kammic reactions, i was wondering if this is true too in Theravada.

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Re: Images of Buddhas

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:42 pm

There were no images of the Buddha during the time of Buddha and for many years, perhaps centuries after his parinibbana. So there are no set rules on this in the Dhamma-Vinaya.

But in general I think it would be good to show respect for what it symbolizes. Of course that would not be idolatry because Buddhists know that there is no intrinsic deification or value to a statue made of stone, wood, marble, etc., but out of cultural norms and respect to the Master, care should be given.
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Re: Images of Buddhas

Postby withoutcolour » Mon Jan 18, 2010 5:00 am

It's certainly important to show respect but like anything else, don't get attached to the image of the Buddha.

When I was in Thailand, it was very taboo to point your feet at the image of the Buddha, so just little respect things like that.
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Re: Images of Buddhas

Postby Bankei » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:05 am

In Thailand Buddha images are consecrated and are considered to have some sort of special power after this is done. Donald Swearer has written a book about it Becoming the Buddha: The Ritual of Image Consecration in Thailand (2004). There is a nice review of the book online in the latest Buddhist Studies Review, but it appears to be down at the moment, see http://www.equinoxjournals.com/ojs/inde ... ue/archive

I think it is safe to say that many Thai Buddhists a Idolaters - with the meaning that they worship statues, or idols etc. Special statues have special powers, both Buddhist and Brahmanical statues.
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