Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

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gavesako
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Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by gavesako » Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:47 pm

A new website has been created by a group in Thailand who is offended by disrespectful treatment of Buddha images by foreigners who don't seem to think that Buddhism counts together with its symbols as a "valid religion" in the same way that for example Christianity does:
Do and Don't on Buddha
http://www.knowingbuddha.org" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://www.facebook.com/KnowingBuddha" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:buddha1:

Please visit the organization's website, where we have all contents regarding Dos and Don'ts on Buddha, Buddha's biography and his core teachings.
Mission
To provide the better understanding about what should and should not do to the Buddha.
Description
We often find that Buddha is not treated with respect. Many people over look the feelings of billions of Buddhists around the world.
General information
Why is the image of Buddha so important?
When Buddha was still alive he never asked his followers to make statues or worship him in images. Instead he taught us to not have any attachment to anything – not even himself. Buddha said that the best way to worship him was to follow his teachings. And that after he passed away, after his “Nippana” or “Nirvana”, his teachings would take his place.
100 years later some of his followers wondered how Buddha looked. They prayed to an angel who used to meet Buddha. Then the angel appeared in Buddha’s image, and so the first Buddha statues were created. Since then Buddha statues have become a key element for most Buddhists around the world are reminded of his compassion, kindness and his teachings and feel the highest regard for him.
Some show respect, others behave with ignorance.
This summary might help you understand how you (should) can treat Buddha’s images appropriately.

Compare these cases:

Why, for some reason, do some religions in America seem to carry more legitimacy, treated with more respect and sensitivity, over other religions in America?
Can you imagine a scenario in which Las Vegas opened a new nightclub called “Trinity” that themed all it’s decorations and advertising material around Jesus and other Christian icons? Would Christians (and Americans in general) find that disrespectful and offensive? Would their feelings be treated as melodramatic and inappropriate?

http://dharmafolk.com/2012/05/30/lets-g ... he-buddha/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Sexuality, Exoticism, and Iconoclasm in the Media Age: The Strange Case of the Buddha Bikini

http://bucknell.academia.edu/JamesMarkS ... dha_Bikini" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Buddha Bar

http://www.scribd.com/doc/7154047/Buddha-Bar-1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://sdhammika.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03 ... ar_15.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
Dhammatalks.org - Sutta translations

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Cittasanto
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Cittasanto » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:11 pm

hi Bhante,
I had a good look at the site when you linked to it a little while ago.

it brings up a few conflicting thoughts to put them into an extreme form of "how dare they..." "why should I care..." I think it boils down to "is this an intelligent criticism; unwitting mistake or is it a ignorant "piss take" (pardon my language)."
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.
John Stuart Mill

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cooran
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by cooran » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:23 pm

Hello all,

Personally, I don't think the Buddha would have cared. I don't. And I don't believe 'the angel told us what Buddha looked like' tale.

Many people I know have all sorts of buddha garden gnomes, sold in many garden and hardware shops - and Hotei (whom they think is the Buddha) seems to be the most popular - they rub his belly for good luck.

Buddha garden statues
Image

Why create unwholesome akusala mind states and work yourself up over it? It only matters if it matters.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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reflection
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by reflection » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:30 pm

Here in the Netherlands I know of at least one coffeeshop (the Dutch kind, where various sorts of drugs are sold) that is literally called "The Buddha" and has symbols of him too. :D

And there is a jewelry brand called "Buddha to Buddha".

And once I walked into this bar called "Little Buddha", with a huge statue surrounded by drunk people:

Image


:lol: :lol: There must be many more cases like this. I personally think it is kind of funny and couldn't care less.
Last edited by reflection on Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Viscid
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Viscid » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:30 pm

gavesako wrote:Can you imagine a scenario in which Las Vegas opened a new nightclub called “Trinity” that themed all it’s decorations and advertising material around Jesus and other Christian icons? Would Christians (and Americans in general) find that disrespectful and offensive? Would their feelings be treated as melodramatic and inappropriate?
Yes, some group of people would likely express outrage at calling a nightclub trinity and using sacred imagery in a manner which they judge to be disrespectful. But isn't it people's own attachments, their own defilements, which is making them feel hurt and outraged at having particular symbols used in a way they find inappropriate? I think there's value in sacrilege if it devalues an object of worship. Such attachment to symbols can cause violence. Look at the history of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka. Wars and violence over a stupid tooth! What absurdity. If people are repeatedly exposed to casual display of symbols of divinity, those symbols lose their sense of sacredness, which is absolutely wonderful in my opinion-- less attachments to cry over.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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mpcahn
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by mpcahn » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:33 pm

There's a head shop in Boulder called Buddha's Gouda. My kilesas came up when a girl from it offered me a coupon for 50% off a glass pipe.
is the mind us? Is it ours? Slash on down! Whatever is going to be destroyed, let it be destroyed. We feel no regrets. We want only the truth. (Ajahn Maha Boowa)

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Skeptic
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Skeptic » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:34 pm

cooran wrote:Buddha garden statues
Image
I have a little statue looking like this, given to me by a Sai Baba devotee which bough it in India. She said it is the statue of Metteyya Buddha, but when I did some research I have found that this is also depiction of some Chinese folk deity named Hotei. On other occasion I have seen this statue in the picture from Khmer new year celebration in some Theravadin temple. So what this really is?

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cooran
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by cooran » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:38 pm

Hello skeptic,

This might give you some information:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/hotei.shtml" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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mikenz66
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:41 pm

Viscid wrote: But isn't it people's own attachments, their own defilements, which is making them feel hurt and outraged at having particular symbols used in a way they find inappropriate?
Certainly if people feel hurt or outraged about something, and not totally equanimous, they have not fully developed the Path.

However, even equanimous beings, such as the Buddha, criticised things he found inappropriate.

:anjali:
Mike

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gavesako
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by gavesako » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:44 pm

That is how it might appear to "protestant Buddhists" but if you consider the feelings of people in traditional Buddhist countries which have preserved the Sasana for generations and made it literally part of their culture, it might look quite different.

Here is some history:
With the fall of Mandalay, all of Burma came under British rule. Throughout the colonial era, many Indians arrived as soldiers, civil servants, construction workers and traders and, along with the Anglo-Burmese community, dominated commercial and civil life in Burma. Rangoon became the capital of British Burma and an important port between Calcutta and Singapore.
Burmese resentment was strong and was vented in violent riots that paralysed Yangon on occasion all the way until the 1930s.[33] Some of the discontent was caused by a disrespect for Burmese culture and traditions such as the British refusal to remove shoes when they entered pagodas. Buddhist monks became the vanguards of the independence movement. U Wisara, an activist monk, died in prison after a 166-day hunger strike to protest a rule that forbade him from wearing his Buddhist robes while imprisoned.[34]
Similarly, the Portuguese were particularly nasty in Sri Lanka and more destructive than the British. It was part of the colonial mentality obviously.

In the present case involving Thailand, there might be some nationalist sentiment behind it because "Sasana" (meaning Buddhism here) is regarded as one of the three pillars of the state. These are sensitive issues obviously which one does NOT joke about and foreigners would be well advised to be careful around them:

Now Thailand's culture ministry has filed a complaint to police against Lady Gaga for misuse of the Thai flag during her show last month. The ministry said the part of Lady Gaga's performance when she wore a traditional headdress and sat on a motorcycle in a skimpy outfit with a Thai flag trailing behind was "inappropriate and hurt Thai people's sentiment".
The ministry noted that the Thai national flag consisted of three colours -- red for the nation, blue for the revered monarchy and white for religion.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/breakingnews ... ok-concert" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
http://thaiscare.com/2012/06/thai-cultu ... -over-gag/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

:o
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
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cooran
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by cooran » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:51 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Viscid wrote: But isn't it people's own attachments, their own defilements, which is making them feel hurt and outraged at having particular symbols used in a way they find inappropriate?
Certainly if people feel hurt or outraged about something, and not totally equanimous, they have not fully developed the Path.

However, even equanimous beings, such as the Buddha, criticised things he found inappropriate.

:anjali:
Mike

Yes, I agree, Mike. None of my practising Thai friends in Thailand or Oz are hurt or outraged. Governments, of course, have different responsibilities and agendas.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Skeptic
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Skeptic » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:59 pm

cooran wrote:Hello skeptic,

This might give you some information:
http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/hotei.shtml" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

with metta
Chris
Thanks Cooran, I also had a picture from Thailand with large Hotei-like statue of Buddha, but can't find it now. Completely different from other Thai Buddha statues. But maybe this was from some Chinese temple in Thailand, since there is a large community of Thai-Chinese which are now Theravadins but their ancestors were Mahayanist, and some of them are Mahayanist even today.

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Viscid
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Viscid » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:06 pm

gavesako wrote:That is how it might appear to "protestant Buddhists" but if you consider the feelings of people in traditional Buddhist countries which have preserved the Sasana for generations and made it literally part of their culture, it might look quite different.
And it would be appropriate in these countries for foreigners to abide by their sentiment. It would be terribly arrogant of someone to decide unilaterally that it's better for Eastern people to follow 'protestant Buddhism,' (western values) over tradition. Their house, their rules. However, in the West such imported traditions as Buddhism must not attempt to limit the individual's right to free speech. That right is more sacred in the United States than any symbol, and its repudiation more offensive than any sacrilege.
"What holds attention determines action." - William James

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DNS
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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by DNS » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:13 pm

Image
Tao night club, Las Vegas

Image
Little Buddha, Las Vegas

Image
Brahma-deva in front of Caesers Palace, Las Vegas

Personally it doesn't bother me. I actually think the 'publicity' might be good, raising some questions and possible interest. And I think it tells a lot of a religion and its adherents in how they respond; for example in that most Buddhists take the high-road, don't get upset, don't call for violence or other actions when a Buddha image is used or if someone names their teddy bear "Buddha".

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Re: Respect for Buddha images and offensive use of symbols

Post by Sokehi » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:50 pm

why the heat.

I remember a zen story where a master burned a buddha rupa thus shocking his disciples. He did because they were lacking firewood in the winter. It was just wood essentially.

I smile about such incidents were statues and symbols are "misused". It's very unskilfull to get angry about it imho. To be relaxed about it shows how passionate and peaceful buddhists are (or can be). In that way it surpasses any other worldreligion.

They will see for themselves.
Get the wanting out of waiting

What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address. – SN 5.2

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