BUDDHISM ISN'T AN AESTHETIC


First off, Buddha is not a decorative object.

Buddha is to be treated with respect. You'll see pictures and busts everywhere, Buddha being used as a prop or to fit some white person's "zen" aesthetic. Probably not even realizing there's anything wrong with it, they're further disrespecting Buddha unknowingly. With that said, don't put him on the ground or as a centerpiece of a table. Put him as high up as you can (where he belongs) and don't put him in places like the bathroom.

DISCLAIMER: I GREW UP BUDDHIST BUT I AM IN NO WAY AN EXPERT ON BUDDHISM (WHICH IS OKAY) BUT I DO KNOW A THING OR TWO ABOUT NOT DISRESPECTING ANYONE'S RELIGION.

Here are a few DO's and DON'TS in regards to Buddha

DO

  • Pay your respects. To pay respect to Buddha doesn’t mean one has to be a Buddhist. He is worshipped as the enlightened father and should be respected as such. There are many ways to show your respects, whether it be physically or spiritually. Through body language, respect can be shown with “Wai” where you bring your hands together to the center of your chest and bow your head slightly forward. As for respect of the mind, it can be shown by your attitude. If you don’t want to pay respect at all, that's completely okay as well, you have no obligation to give praise to a religion that you do not practice. Just try not look down on Buddha since there are many others that hold him in their highest regards.

  • Correcting wrongs. If you see a picture, amulet or statue of Buddha in inappropriate places such as a walkway floor, in a toilet or on a chair, please help to place it in a proper place up high such as on a shelf. The higher the better. If Buddha is placed in a low location (and heaven forbid... the GROUND), try relocate him immediately.

In the Thai culture, my parents have taught me that anything that has to do with Buddha should not be placed at such a low positioning (like the ground) because first off, it's out of respect and secondly, the floor is dirty. This is the same reason why you don't use your feet to get someone's attention, it's just gross and disrespectful.

DON'T

  • Do not place Buddha images on objects or in inappropriate places. Buddha images should be placed away from objects of daily use such as handkerchiefs, napkins, towels, rags or cleaning item . Also do not use for the lower part of the body, shoes, underwear, skirts including all sorts of toys and furniture etc. I have also heard that tattoos can also be considered disrespectful to some but I personally find that this may be one of those rare exceptions that should be left up to judgment.

Putting Buddha on the lower part of anything is incredibly disrespectful because everything has its place in the great chain of being. There is a Buddhist concept which expresses how spirit evolved its way from the ground up in a chain of great being (which is why Buddha is to never be on the ground or near it).

  • Do not place images or statues of Buddha as if they were furniture or decorative objects. Don't place a Buddha statue in the middle of a table or in the toilet and especially not in bars or restaurant (as decorative pieces but if they're there for worship and praying then that is an entirely different story).

  • Do not treat Buddha as merchandise. Buddha busts that are popularized have a pretty dark history. They're only from the shoulder up because thieves would decapitate Buddha busts and sell them illegally, probably out of convenience. Think about that the next time you're in T.J. Maxx looking at that Buddha bust and wondering if you should get it so you can give your apartment good vibesss.

Even though Buddha sculptures are for sale, it does not mean it's okay to purchase them. By buying them, it just increases the demand of those statues for whichever business you decide to get them from, and further making it "okay" to buy such statues.

  • Do not use Buddha’s name in a disrespectful way. For example, in a movie, a dog's name is "Buddha" or there's an ice cream shop called "Buddhi Belly" and a car called "Buddha Bar".

  • Do not under any circumstance make fun of Buddha statues or images. For example, there is a movie poster which shows a man sitting on Buddha’s shoulders.

There are plenty more of DOS and DON'TS regarding Buddha, but here are a few. If you want to learn more about Buddhism and knowing how to properly respect Buddha, check out knowingbuddha.org!

Do your research so you can actually learn about a religion and so you can properly pay your respects. I hope that this has in some way shed some light on how folks have been (unknowingly or knowingly) ignorant!


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