Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:16 pm

In the film 'Tropic Thunder' why does the Aum symbol appear behind the character played by Tom Cruise?

This isn't a minor point and I don't think it's nit-picking. Yes, I know Buddhists don't have 'ownership' of this ancient symbol BUT it is associated with us (and Hindus, and Jains and other eastern religions). In this film, the character played by Tom Cruise is an angry, self-centred/egocentric, money-obsessed, materialistic bully --- completely AGAINST what the Aum symbol represents! And yet, very clearly, he has a giant Aum symbol in his office. I have a theory about why this is, but it might be a bit... far fetched.

I understand Tom Cruise had a lot of flexibility with his character (for example, he chose the giant hands, the script was never written for him (he improvised), all his mannerisms and his dance moves were all his own creation). It may well be that he also choose to display the Aum symbol. The question is, why? What was his motivation?

Let's cut through the cheese here, Tom Cruise is a Scientologist and there is a known history of this dangerous sect trying to corrupt the typical westerner's mind about eastern thought. Take, for example, 'My name is Earl'. The concept of Karma portrayed in this sitcom is WILDLY corrupted and, although Scientologists don't use the word 'Karma' themselves, fits more with the Scientology philosophy of morality. 'My name is Earl' was written by Scientologists and stars Scientologist actors. Unfortunately, many people I have spoken to believe (or did believe before I corrected them) that the Scientology 'version' of 'Karma' was actually what Buddhists believe!

... could it be that in this film, the Aum symbol was deliberately chosen so that subconsciously people would associate it with the sorts of charactistics displayed by Tom Cruise's character?

Now consider this... if a crescent moon (or, more specifically, the Islam symbol) or a pictorial representation of the Prophet Mohammed (sp?) had been used there would be OUTCRY. The Islamic world would not stand for it.... you would see effigies burning and riots in the streets. So, why should we allow this PEACEFUL symbol (the Aum symbol) to be associated with corruption!?

Is protesting against the principal of non-violence? What should we do?

Am I simply reading too much into this?
Mawkish1983
 
Posts: 1164
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:46 am
Location: Essex, UK

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:14 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Am I simply reading too much into this?

Yes... :smile:
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby appicchato » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:15 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Am I simply reading too much into this?

Yes... :smile:
User avatar
appicchato
 
Posts: 1512
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:47 am
Location: Bridge on the River Kwae

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:00 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:
Am I simply reading too much into this?


Maybe not but I do think you might be overreacting a bit.

Metta

Gabriel
"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332
User avatar
Prasadachitta
 
Posts: 973
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 6:52 am
Location: San Francisco (The Mission) Ca USA

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby jcsuperstar » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:43 pm

the om symbol is typically associated with new age and hippy types in america, although if theyre any bit educated theyll add hindu to the list, almost never buddhism.
theyre also the types that think hotei is the buddha.

tom cruise's religious beliefs are considered a joke by most americans too, "he's in a wacky cult" so i doubt anyone cares just what symbols he's got around him.
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Ben » Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:47 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:What should we do?


Concentrate on our own practice.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global Relief
UNHCR Syria Emergency Relief AppealTyphoon Haiyan Relief AppealKiva: (person to person micro-finance)

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
User avatar
Ben
Site Admin
 
Posts: 15788
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: Land of the sleeping gods

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Individual » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:22 am

I bought a meditation cushion from a Tibetan Buddhist temple once, with the aum symbol on it. When showing to someone (don't remember if it was a Hindu or a Buddhist), they remarked that it would be considered disrespectful by some, to have your butt on the aum symbol.

I remember a while ago at e-Sangha, there was a long heated thread about some monk who associated with a surfer with a picture of the Buddha on the surf board. One point brought up was that there was apparently a difference in the degree of offensiveness depending on whether the Buddha image was the side of the board that touched the water rather than the side you put your feet on.

As Apicchato says, you're reading too much into it. I'd say you're overreacting. Buddhists shouldn't have the mentality of the NAACP, ADL, PETA, the Catholic League, the Moral Majority, GLAAD, and other similar organizations, constantly looking for things in he media to complain about. That's not really any good for anyone, because it's always just hatred and fear, which lays the basis for even more hatred and fear.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
Individual
 
Posts: 1970
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:19 am

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby thornbush » Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:51 am

I have never seen the OM sign used anywhere in Theravada Buddhism .....so.....and as a Mahayanist myself, it is no big deal whether or not this world wants to abuse religious sacred symbols as in the end, one is the owner of one's kamma. So don't worry...what goes around comes around...in due time...
More valuable time is spent in cultivation than in reactionary stances.

Namo Amitabha Buddha!
thornbush
 
Posts: 148
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:22 pm

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Tex » Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:35 am

thornbush wrote:I have never seen the OM sign used anywhere in Theravada Buddhism


Exactly what I was thinking.

And, to be honest, I can't think of anything that someone could say about any Buddhist symbol that would get me too riled up. I remember reading the news about the destruction of the Banyan statues several years ago, long before I was a Buddhist, and I remember really being inspired by the Buddhist response to these militants who used their religiopolitical beliefs as an excuse to destroy such amazing history -- the Buddhists were all like, "*shrug* There's plenty of rocks left, who's got a chisel?".

I think that's important. The minute that Buddhist symbols become "our" symbols, and we get offended when someone "not us" disrespects them, then perhaps we've started to miss some of the point of Buddhist symbols?

Just my opinion.
"The serene and peaceful mind is the true epitome of human achievement."-- Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

"To reach beyond fear and danger we must sharpen and widen our vision. We have to pierce through the deceptions that lull us into a comfortable complacency, to take a straight look down into the depths of our existence, without turning away uneasily or running after distractions." -- Bhikkhu Bodhi
User avatar
Tex
 
Posts: 619
Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:46 pm
Location: Austin, TX, USA

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:43 am

Speaking of bringing symbols into disrepute, how about all those movies where the bad guys have swatikas?

Oops, that happened in real life too... :cry:

Metta
Mike
User avatar
mikenz66
 
Posts: 9612
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:37 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Feb 19, 2009 4:51 am

there used to be some group, maybe theyre still around, of jews and (i think) tibetan buddhists that went around reclaiming the swatikas left by white power vandals.... i always liked that idea...
สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
User avatar
jcsuperstar
 
Posts: 1915
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:15 am
Location: alaska

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Mawkish1983 » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:00 am

Ben wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:What should we do?


Concentrate on our own practice.


Yes, I see what you are all saying :) thank you. Very helpful indeed!!!

See, the very reason why I ask about things that annoy me is because YOU lot always know exactly what to say to help me :)

Thank you all very much
Mawkish1983
 
Posts: 1164
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 9:46 am
Location: Essex, UK

Re: Inappropriate and insulting use of the Aum symbol

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:30 pm

If I go to Germany my flag is taken off me just because it is similar to the Swastika red and three legs (see the centre of my Avatar)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
Upāsaka Cittasanto
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
User avatar
Cittasanto
 
Posts: 5661
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin


Return to Lounge

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: JeffR and 10 guests