Author Topic: I'm concerned....  (Read 498 times)

Offline Morf

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I'm concerned....
« on: April 04, 2017, 01:13:14 am »
Hi all. Thanks for having me in the forum. As I explained in my welcome intro, my interest in Buddhism stems from an extended visit to Cambodia where Theravada Buddhism is the national religion. I am not, as yet, a practising Buddhist. But I find it truly fascinating. Both my fiance and I have found that its teachings and practises really resonate with both of us. We have since visited other Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Loas and really enjoy touring the beautiful temples and talking to the monks. We learn more and more every time. But there is one aspect of our mutual interest that concerns me. My fiance has taken to collecting Buddhist statues, carvings, paintings, beads and other trinkets while on our travels. As we are not actually practising Buddhists, I find this somewhat inappropriate, especially as much of what she buys is clearly made for nothing more than the tourist market, the kind of stuff that secondhand auction websites like http://www.for-sale.co.uk/ are awash with back in the west. I find the whole practise rather materialistic, false and extremely uncomfortable. But for the sake of keeping the peace, I have kept my thoughts to myself. I just wondered what others thought. Could anybody offer any guidance? Thanks in advance.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 12:52:21 am by Morf »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: I'm concerned....
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2017, 02:55:28 am »
Hi, morf.  Congratulations to you and your fiance' regarding your tour of Sourthern Buddhist countries.

Ironically, I made the same tour at the expense of The U.S. taxpayer during The Vietnam War in the early 1960's, but for far different reasons than yours.   :lipsseald:

Having been married two times,having had Grandmothers (3), Aunts (8), Sisters(1), Sisters-in-law (3), and Nieces (5), what you and I both also have in common is that we have to go shopping wherever and whenever we travel with them.  My job is usually to hold and carry the bags or baskets.  Whereas Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles, Brothers-in-law and such seem to want to stick to exploring.

In all my time in The Far East, the only purchase I ever personally made was a chess board made with carved, ten inch pieces, while in The Philippines.  However, only a few years into the beginning of my Buddhist practice in earnest I purchased a bronze 19 inch high statue of a sitting , Japanese Buddha for my home study, which doubled as the room, where I used to sit during marathon meditation sessions for hours and hours, which at the time was a very important part of my practice. I am certain you observed practitioners doing the same as you visited temples, or even sitting in goups in the streets, while on tour.

 According to my understanding of Theravada tradition such statues as your wife purchased, and those like mine are not considered in any way "holy", not even "iconic" , these are not worshipped as is the custom in Christian churches, or Hindu temples, but are simply reminders of the vastly beneficial contributions of The Buddha to mankind.  They are used by practitioners as objects of focus during meditation and mindfulness sessions, then put away, or covered if too heavy to carry around.

You have probably seen that the same is not true in temples, however.  It is customary to constantly face The Buddha, during entry and exit from rooms, where Buddha images are displayed, although in some settings this is impossible to do, because some temples are surrounded with Buddha statues, icons, paintings, and tapestry.

As long as your significant-other, or accompanying members of your family treat these images with respect, I see nothing wrong with what your fiance' purchased.  Keep in mind that consideration would also be an appreciated act of kindness to those, who are practitioners in earnest as well, since those images may be venerated by them, just as your statement of concern is an act of kindness and respect paid to The Buddhist Community here at FreeSangha by sharing your story with us on this board.

To you and your fiance' these images are reminders of the joy you experienced and shared during your trip.  So, they mean something totally different to you.  That is understood.

On the other hand, I have a Jewish friend, who has a ceramic Statue of Buddha sitting on the edge of his walk at his home entrance.  It's purpose is clearly as a decoration. It sits in a garden along the walk to his home entrance.  It was purchased by his lovely French wife, while they were in Vietnam adopting their oldest daughter from a Catholic orphanage.  I show respect to their garden Buddha by nodding to it as I walk by and smile.  Perhaps I smile,  because the statue was fashioned with a smile, so, I smile back.  This statue also reminds me of the loving-kindness my friends exhibited to their daughter by giving her a loving, caring, and supportive family, and an excellent education as she just recently graduated from The University of Rochester Medical School.  Just the kind of thing that would bring a smile to Buddha's face, I would imagine.

In any event, welcome, and thank you for sharing your experience and concern with us.

_/\_Ron
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 10:32:29 am by Ron-the-Elder, Reason: Correction: "wife" changed to "fiance\'.....thanks Pixie! »
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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline Pixie

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Re: I'm concerned....
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2017, 05:12:07 am »
Hi Morf,

Opinions about Buddha statues and trinkets can vary, and to my knowledge the Buddha didn't tell people to make images of him after he died.

However, in my opinion collecting statues and trinkets is harmless. I used to do it myself when I first became interested in Buddhism and felt peaceful when l looked at them in my home, so I don't think there's any need to worry about your fiance.

These days Buddha statues can even be found as garden ornaments in the supermarket near where I live!


With best wishes to you and your fiance,

Pixie  _/\_
« Last Edit: April 04, 2017, 08:53:07 am by Pixie »
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May they abide in great impartiality, free from attachment to loved ones and aversion to others.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: I'm concerned....
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2017, 07:26:29 am »
Hi all. Thanks for having me in the forum. As I explained in my welcome intro, my interest in Buddhism stems from an extended visit to Cambodia where Theravada Buddhism is the national religion. I am not, as yet, a practising Buddhist. But I find it truly fascinating. Both my fiance and I have found that its teachings and practises really resonate with both of us. We have since visited other Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Loas and really enjoy touring the beautiful temples and talking to the monks. We learn more and more every time. But there is one aspect of our mutual interest that concerns me. My fiance has taken to collecting Buddhist statues, carvings, paintings, beads and other trinkets while on our travels. As we are not actually practising Buddhists, I find this somewhat inappropriate, especially as much of what she buys is clearly made for nothing more than the tourist market, the kind of stuff that secondhand auction websites are awash with back in the west. I find the whole practise rather materialistic, false and extremely uncomfortable. But for the sake of keeping the peace, I have kept my thoughts to myself. I just wondered what others thought. Could anybody offer any guidance? Thanks in advance.

Don't worry about it.  Collect all you like.

Offline Morf

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Re: I'm concerned....
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2017, 12:57:05 am »
Hi, morf.  Congratulations to you and your fiance' regarding your tour of Sourthern Buddhist countries.

Ironically, I made the same tour at the expense of The U.S. taxpayer during The Vietnam War in the early 1960's, but for far different reasons than yours.   :lipsseald:

Having been married two times,having had Grandmothers (3), Aunts (8), Sisters(1), Sisters-in-law (3), and Nieces (5), what you and I both also have in common is that we have to go shopping wherever and whenever we travel with them.  My job is usually to hold and carry the bags or baskets.  Whereas Grandfathers, Fathers, Uncles, Brothers-in-law and such seem to want to stick to exploring.

In all my time in The Far East, the only purchase I ever personally made was a chess board made with carved, ten inch pieces, while in The Philippines.  However, only a few years into the beginning of my Buddhist practice in earnest I purchased a bronze 19 inch high statue of a sitting , Japanese Buddha for my home study, which doubled as the room, where I used to sit during marathon meditation sessions for hours and hours, which at the time was a very important part of my practice. I am certain you observed practitioners doing the same as you visited temples, or even sitting in goups in the streets, while on tour.

 According to my understanding of Theravada tradition such statues as your wife purchased, and those like mine are not considered in any way "holy", not even "iconic" , these are not worshipped as is the custom in Christian churches, or Hindu temples, but are simply reminders of the vastly beneficial contributions of The Buddha to mankind.  They are used by practitioners as objects of focus during meditation and mindfulness sessions, then put away, or covered if too heavy to carry around.

You have probably seen that the same is not true in temples, however.  It is customary to constantly face The Buddha, during entry and exit from rooms, where Buddha images are displayed, although in some settings this is impossible to do, because some temples are surrounded with Buddha statues, icons, paintings, and tapestry.

As long as your significant-other, or accompanying members of your family treat these images with respect, I see nothing wrong with what your fiance' purchased.  Keep in mind that consideration would also be an appreciated act of kindness to those, who are practitioners in earnest as well, since those images may be venerated by them, just as your statement of concern is an act of kindness and respect paid to The Buddhist Community here at FreeSangha by sharing your story with us on this board.

To you and your fiance' these images are reminders of the joy you experienced and shared during your trip.  So, they mean something totally different to you.  That is understood.

On the other hand, I have a Jewish friend, who has a ceramic Statue of Buddha sitting on the edge of his walk at his home entrance.  It's purpose is clearly as a decoration. It sits in a garden along the walk to his home entrance.  It was purchased by his lovely French wife, while they were in Vietnam adopting their oldest daughter from a Catholic orphanage.  I show respect to their garden Buddha by nodding to it as I walk by and smile.  Perhaps I smile,  because the statue was fashioned with a smile, so, I smile back.  This statue also reminds me of the loving-kindness my friends exhibited to their daughter by giving her a loving, caring, and supportive family, and an excellent education as she just recently graduated from The University of Rochester Medical School.  Just the kind of thing that would bring a smile to Buddha's face, I would imagine.

In any event, welcome, and thank you for sharing your experience and concern with us.

_/\_Ron

Hi Morf,

Opinions about Buddha statues and trinkets can vary, and to my knowledge the Buddha didn't tell people to make images of him after he died.

However, in my opinion collecting statues and trinkets is harmless. I used to do it myself when I first became interested in Buddhism and felt peaceful when l looked at them in my home, so I don't think there's any need to worry about your fiance.

These days Buddha statues can even be found as garden ornaments in the supermarket near where I live!


With best wishes to you and your fiance,

Pixie  _/\_

Hi all. Thanks for having me in the forum. As I explained in my welcome intro, my interest in Buddhism stems from an extended visit to Cambodia where Theravada Buddhism is the national religion. I am not, as yet, a practising Buddhist. But I find it truly fascinating. Both my fiance and I have found that its teachings and practises really resonate with both of us. We have since visited other Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Loas and really enjoy touring the beautiful temples and talking to the monks. We learn more and more every time. But there is one aspect of our mutual interest that concerns me. My fiance has taken to collecting Buddhist statues, carvings, paintings, beads and other trinkets while on our travels. As we are not actually practising Buddhists, I find this somewhat inappropriate, especially as much of what she buys is clearly made for nothing more than the tourist market, the kind of stuff that secondhand auction websites are awash with back in the west. I find the whole practise rather materialistic, false and extremely uncomfortable. But for the sake of keeping the peace, I have kept my thoughts to myself. I just wondered what others thought. Could anybody offer any guidance? Thanks in advance.

Don't worry about it.  Collect all you like.

Thanks to you all for sharing your views. I feel very much reassured about the situation now.

Offline Tigermelon

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Re: I'm concerned....
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2017, 09:08:01 am »
Hello!  To add my own two cents, I agree with what has been stated above about enjoying the images for what they are but being sure to treat them with respect.  You can find a lot of Buddhist imagery in shops like TJ Max, Marshalls, and so on that is attractive and generally quite low in price.  From that observation alone it is clear that in the West Buddhist images are generally seen as decorative and (more often than not) not reflective of any particular religious or philosophical views.

I will add, however, that if the number of images and items in your home creates a sense of unease for you, that you be honest with your wife about it.  There is a point at which an excess of iconography can be inappropriate and it's fair for you to speak out in that regard.  It's wonderful to collect items from your travels and I have a few Shinto-based items in my home purchased during various trips to Japan.  I don't feel the need to follow Shinto beliefs or traditions to display and enjoy these items, but I do recognize that I could reach a point where I have too many and it can be disrespectful to the tradition from which they are derived to compile them with out a deeper reverence for their significance.

The Buddha taught that everything is temporary and this includes any personal items a person may collect in their lifetime.  There is no magical power in statues, mala, scrolls, or the like or the clearance shelf at TX Max would be a remarkably holy location.  In that regard there is no reason to be overly concerned about your wife's collection but moderation is important in all things so you should not feel that you are unjustified in expressing your discomfort.

 


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