I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

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manas
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I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by manas » Sat May 25, 2019 2:33 pm

In my readings of the Pali Nikayas thus far, I've not come across such an injunction. I have, however, heard it from more than one serious practitioner, that the Buddha instructed us to not cast or worship likenesses of himself. I even heard someone say, that a Dhamma wheel or the Bodhi tree were viable alternatives, however I've not encountered such advice in the texts, either. I will assume it's because I haven't as yet read the entire Pali Canon, but in any case, I would really appreciate some clarity on this; just what advice do we have on this issue, from either the Pali Nikayas, or the Vinaya texts (or elsewhere)?
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


santa100
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by santa100 » Sat May 25, 2019 4:14 pm

SN 22.87 wrote:For a long time, Lord, I have wanted to come and set eyes on the Blessed One, but I had not the strength in this body to come and see the Blessed One."

"Enough, Vakkali! What is there to see in this vile body? He who sees Dhamma, Vakkali, sees me; he who sees me sees Dhamma. Truly seeing Dhamma, one sees me; seeing me one sees Dhamma."

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Sam Vara
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat May 25, 2019 5:50 pm

I think the idea that he forbade images of himself is a bit of a myth. It might be in accordance with other teachings, but is not as far as I know in the suttas.

Are statues even mentioned in the canon? Was it even part of the culture so as to suggest itself to devotees?

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manas
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by manas » Sat May 25, 2019 6:14 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:50 pm
I think the idea that he forbade images of himself is a bit of a myth. It might be in accordance with other teachings, but is not as far as I know in the suttas.

Are statues even mentioned in the canon? Was it even part of the culture so as to suggest itself to devotees?
That's a fair point. Something to investigate: were images or likenesses of either Deities, or great Masters, being cast or molded around the time of the Buddha, in India at all? If not, then as you say, the need for the Buddha to discourage it, would not even have arisen.

On that note, I don't know when the 'Ten Commandments' were actually compiled - and I don't mean according to 'the Book' itself, I mean in reality, according to unbiased, modern scholarship - because there is this, obviously from a different part of the world:
You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Not that any of that ever bothered me. I used to bow down to images of metal, stone or wood, back when I was trying to be a Theist (despite the lack of evidence and insoluble internal contradictions present in my previous religion), and I haven't been struck down by lightning as yet :lol:

I'm thinking of writing to Bhikkhu Bodhi, or some other scholar-monk who I trust would have probably read the entire Canon, sutta and otherwise, and posing this question to them. In any case, so long as practitioners of the Dhamma are able to see Buddha images are just that - images to help uplift the mind in these difficult times, to inspire faith which can in turn inspire us to make a greater effort in our practice, and not as 'the Buddha himself', then it would seem to be a 'skilful means' (I don't know the Pali term , but does that apply here?). If it was discouraged, perhaps it was out of concern for that issue, because at some stage and even up to this present day, many Indian faiths insist that images cast of a Deity are, indeed 'the Deity itself', in fact in my previous religion, that's just how they are conceived.
Last edited by manas on Sat May 25, 2019 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Like a merchant with a small
but well-laden caravan
–a dangerous road,

like a person who loves life
–a poison,

one should avoid
–evil deeds.

(Dhammapada 123)


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Sam Vara
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by Sam Vara » Sat May 25, 2019 6:28 pm

manas wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 6:14 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat May 25, 2019 5:50 pm
I think the idea that he forbade images of himself is a bit of a myth. It might be in accordance with other teachings, but is not as far as I know in the suttas.

Are statues even mentioned in the canon? Was it even part of the culture so as to suggest itself to devotees?
That's a fair point. Something to investigate: were images or likenesses of either Deities, or great Masters, being cast or molded around the time of the Buddha, in India at all? If not, then as you say, the need for the Buddha to discourage it, would not even have arisen.

I'm thinking of writing to Bhikkhu Bodhi, or some other scholar-monk who I trust would have probably read the entire Canon, sutta and otherwise, and posing this question to them. In any case, so long as practitioners of the Dhamma are able to see Buddha images are just that - images to help uplift the mind in these difficult times, to inspire faith which can in turn inspire us to make a greater effort in our practice, and not as 'the Buddha himself', then it would seem to be a 'skilful means' (I don't know the Pali term , but does that apply here?). If it was discouraged, perhaps it was out of concern for that issue, because at some stage and even up to this present day, many Indian faiths insist that images cast of a Deity are, indeed 'the Deity itself', in fact in my previous religion, that's just how they are conceived.
Well, pictorial likenesses were known at the time of the Buddha, as there several references to artistic likeness-painting, such as this one:
Just as — when there is dye, lac, yellow orpiment, indigo, or crimson — a dyer or painter would paint the picture of a woman or a man, complete in all its parts, on a well-polished panel or wall, or on a piece of cloth; in the same way, where there is passion, delight, & craving for the nutriment of physical food... contact... intellectual intention... consciousness, consciousness lands there and increases.
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

I can't recall any reference to deities or religious masters being painted.

We live in a visual and iconic culture, so many people find images and statues of the Buddha inspiring, and I've never known this to even approach anything like idolatry.

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robertk
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by robertk » Sat May 25, 2019 6:40 pm

this pdf has some iseful background. In the early centuries there were only stupas ( with relics)and the bodhi tree to venerate

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... 289RhaAGs5
46
5. The Evolution of the Buddha
Image
Although the Buddha did not institute any
prohibition against representations of his
physical form, no images of the Buddha were
made for about five centuries after Parinibbana.
Symbolic representations of the Buddha in the
form of stupas containing Buddha relics served
as the main object of veneration. In this respect,
there was no shortage of stupas in India.
According to the Asokavadana, King Asoka had
raised 84,000 stupas to represent the Dhamma
groups of the Buddha’s teachings. Thus the cult
of stupa worship became firmly established in
the minds of the Buddhist laity and it became
unthinkable to replace it with another object of
worship, especially a Buddha image, something
not favored by the monks. Therefore something
drastic must have happened to cause a change in
the mindset of the Buddhists. For this we need
not look further than the invasion of Northern
India after the fall of the Mauryan Empire, first
by the Indo-Greeks and then by the Kushans,

dharmacorps
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Re: I heard that the Buddha said not to worship images of himself, if so, where is that recorded?

Post by dharmacorps » Sat May 25, 2019 7:26 pm

I don't know the sutta citation but I believe that the Buddha in a general sense said stupas/etc can be built for paccekabuddhas, buddhas, and maybe also arahants.

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