View Full Version : 'Stop Disrespecting Buddha'

27 Jun 12, 07:24
Hi everyone,

I saw this news item and wondered what your views are about the use of Buddha images. (and name)

Buddhists March in Bangkok to Speak Out to the World to Stop Disrespecting Buddha

The KnowingBuddha Foundation is preparing a Buddhist March - the first time in history - on 30 June, in one of the Bangkok's most famous streets, Khao San Road, to speak out against the improper usage of Buddha's image in the modern world.

After being quiet for a long time on how the world uses Buddha's images and name in a disrespectful way, reportedly, Buddhists will be no be longer be quiet. The Knowing Buddha organization is gathering a large group of Buddhists who don't want to be quiet any longer, and there message to the world is "Stop Disrespecting Buddha."

The March will contain signs to show that Buddha is their father religion, and they will show how the world should treats Buddha with a variety of signs. The high light of the March will be the enormous size signs depicting "Enough" on the Buddha Bar picture also the sign "No!" on the Disney movie "Snow Buddies" which use Buddha's name as a Dog.

Reportedly, there are many others business who using Buddha' images in commerce, and this will be reflected in the march. The KnowingBudda organization's purpose of the march is to improve awareness in the world, about how not to treat Buddha's images and name improperly. The KnowinBudda organization is non-profit charity, based in Thailand.




27 Jun 12, 08:16
Hi Aloka
It is tricky isn't it. ;D
As I see it there are two sides to the argument. Firstly, in defence of the marketing side "Buddha" doesn't belong to anyone and hence it is open to interpretation and manipulation even for material greed e.g. Disney.

Secondly there is no such thing as bad advertising. So Children or people exposed to "Buddha" may result in further interest in Buddhism and the end of suffering, although that may not have been the purpose of the marketing/Disney. So there might be some positive effects.

The problem is that images of "Buddha" become political when people express their wants. That is their want to stop "Buddha" in adverts/cartoons, this is political as wants are political. So Buddha moves into politics which does in itself appear to contain more suffering, greed and aversion, as people express their needs and find oppression. So perhaps it aggrevates the issue rather than lessens it. Perhaps laughing it off is the safest way.

The issue here is that one then needs to define right use and who is or isn't a Buddhist etc. It starts to come down to "us versus them" or "mine versus yours". The problem could be considered to be approaching the concepts leading to justification for anger and even killing for what is right or to stop what is wrong.

Edited last paragraph to remove references to other religions :) Peace.

Gnosis Cupitor
27 Jun 12, 09:42
I see the harm in it. I see the good in it. This is hard to judge, really. But I am in agreement with Oliver.

27 Jun 12, 14:30
I too have mixed views about this. When I have seen Buddha images being used inappropriately I have thought that Buddhism must be the only religion which would put up with such disrespect. I am however pleased that (until now) Buddhists are usually fairly relaxed about such things.

I tend to feel that getting upset about the perceived misuse of Buddhist imagery is another form of attachment to let go of. I understand that the Buddha himself asked his followers not to erect statues to him, but I do find Buddha statues etc. helpful and calming.

However, as someone who doesn't come from a country where Buddhism has deep roots and where it it not integrated into everyday life, I try to understand the different attitude in other such cultures. So I respect for example the Thai's attitude to Buddhist imagery. I do hope though that it doesn't lead to any forms of extremism.

Just my musings

Dave The Seeker
27 Jun 12, 14:59
I don't consider Buddhism a religion, as I personally don't worship The Buddha.
I do bow and show respect to the Teacher, not as a god, but as an enlightened being.
There are many "disrespectful" things done in this world to many individuals or religious people/idols. All must be taken in stride I think. As Cal55 said it is an attachment we need to let go of. And also as stated, I don't come from an area where it is deeply engrained in society. My best wishes for this event that it may bring awareness in a peaceful way.

Wirh Metta

Johnny Panic
27 Jun 12, 16:08
Hmmm. I don't mean to sound judgmental, or as if I'm an authority, but it occurs to me that 1. some of these men and/or women might be a little too attached to the image of Buddha, 2. The march is entirely for the comfort of the people within the march and how the outside world affects their sensibilities, and 3. You cannot stop people from disrespecting Buddha. Somebody, somewhere, is going to use it however they want.

I think Oliver was right when he said laughing it off was the best thing they could do. I've had people insults Buddhism, or my other -isms, to my face not knowing that I was one. I just shrug it off. They are entitled to their opinion, regardless of how ill-informed it may be.

27 Jun 12, 17:24
Interesting discussion. I can see wanting to stop the disrespectful use of the image (but, as Johnny pointed out, this is a type of attachment). I also agree with Oliver's point about publicity, and who knows? Maybe a few kids who see the Disney movie will be curious about Buddha, and find their way to his teachings.

Personally, I take the 'laugh it off' attitude. I have had people ask me about Buddha images, usually uniformed questions like how a vegetarian could be so fat; or why someone who is detached from everything smiles so much. I tend to smile at them, and if I think the person is open to it, explain.

I do have one small Buddha statue in my living room, and hope to find more as time goes by. Not to worship his image, but as a visual reminder of my teacher, my path, and a gentle reminder to myself to practice his teachings.

With metta

28 Jun 12, 01:30
I think it would be better if Buddhists stopped using images of Buddha.

I understand before his death the Buddha was asked how he should be represented and he instructed it should be an empty seat, though I'm not sure where this passage is.

A better way of gauging someones respect for the Buddha, or lack therof, would be how consistantly do they put his teaching into practice.

28 Jun 12, 02:43
I think it would be better if Buddhists stopped using images of Buddha.

Of course. It was quite odd to read about that in the article. The minimum practice of any teaching of Gotama Buddha lead to understand how useless is to worship images or giving them any kind of power.


28 Jun 12, 06:24
I don't see it as a problem to have a Buddha image in my home as a reminder of the Buddha and his teachings. I have never 'worshipped' statues and have never met anyone else who does.

I've had one small statue downstairs for years.. At one time I used it as a focus for practice - eg I practiced in the area in front of it, especially when I used to do Tibetan Buddhist practices. Now I prefer to meditate outside and the previous shrine area isn't a specific focus as such.

I'm not too keen on some of the images I see being used commercially or used like garden gnomes - but I wouldn't go so far as to join a protest about it.

28 Jun 12, 06:34
After being quiet for a long time on how the world uses Buddha's images and name in a disrespectful way, reportedly, Buddhists will be no be longer be quiet.
That's not really true. I live in Thailand and these types of complaints are extremely common (foreign tourists with Buddha tattoos on their feet, bars in America with Buddha decorations, British artists using Buddhas in 'inappropriate' ways, etc. etc.) Outside a fairly narrow range, nobody really cares so it's never going to be front page news on the BBC but it's there.

As for whether these guys are justified in complaining, if they find it upsetting it seems fine to complain about it and fine to expect others (Disney, a bar owner, me) to respect that. We should - it's not hard for Disney to think of another name for a dog or for a tourist to get a tattoo of something else; the benefits are great and the costs are essentially non-existent.

Is it 'Buddhist' to complain about this stuff? I don't think there's an answer to that. Thai Buddhism is one thing and the kind of Buddhism most westerners value is another but the latter is not some purer, more essential, more truthful distillation of the former so I'd be a bit careful about making pronouncements on whose interpretation is right. And in any case, it seems that the theological aspects to these questions are beside the point. Just be nice to people and try not to upset them is surely enough to be getting on with - that alone is difficult enough for most of us to do, before we get into doctrinal disputes.

06 Aug 12, 07:47
I'm surprised that no one has brought up the crazy modern interpretation of the word Buddha. Most Americans misunderstand the Buddha to be a Buddai. Every person I know, all uneducated, uncaring or ignorant, think the Buddha is a smilling fat guy, like a buddai... Its frustrating to have to explain to people that the Buddha they are talking about is one of many and they are probably talking about Siddhārtha Gautama and not a Buddai... Honestly though, shouldn't a real Buddhist not care what people do and just respect their ignorance and give them happy thoughts in hopes that one day they will educate themselves?

09 Aug 12, 15:27
I have read in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand by Pabonka Rinpoche that it is EXTREMELY BAD karma to sell images/statues/etc of holy beings or similar things for profit put on top of that a motivation for nothing but money, not even the thought that somebody might get some joy out of this.. makes it even worse.

People are going to create karma consciously or unconsciously.

I for one believe it to be helpful to have images/statues of enlightened beings.

It helps keep me focused.

As far as what this thread is describing though.. "improper" use of Buddha statues and the like.. people will do what they do and will be where they are.

Should I get mad if somebody destroys my sacred environment?

If so, why?

For one the dharma is inside. My relationship to it cannot be destroyed even if somebody were to kill me.

To get angry about somebody killing me or vandalizing/destroying my sacred environment would not further cultivate healthy positive potentials.

15 Aug 12, 21:48
We are told that as Buddhists, any image of the Buddha must be venerated, in whatever material, or however poorly made - the important thing is that we are not venerating the image, but venerating the Buddha: the image serves no purpose but to remind us of his immanence.

Even though I still feel very uneasy when I see a Buddha made into a table-lamp with a light-bulb sticking out of His head, or some of the grotesque and sentimental images that we are all used to seeing, made by the million, for tourists and cheap shops all around us, it's important to remember that all images and pictures are things in Dukkha; they will pass away - they are passing away as we look - and it is only the Buddha Mind itself that remains.

I have much sympathy with any group that hates to see these greatly loved images misused - but they ARE only images, and we must respond with moderation to all provocation, and not seek to defend things which are only 'real' in the conventional sense - they are no threat to us, and they do not belong to us.