Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom
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mikenz66
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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:31 pm

retrofuturist wrote:...do the funds come out a specifically designed "Giant Buddha Rupa Construction Fund" or are they funded by general non-target-specific donations?

The much less monumental constructions at my local Wat have tended to be specifically fund-raised. What often seems to happen is that someone decides to donate, say, a large outdoor statue, and then funds are raised for the surrounding paving, garden, etc, etc.

From my experience I would imagine there would be plenty of wealthy Thai people scrambling out of their BMW or Mercedes to donate to "The largest Buddha in Thailand".

This sort of attitude (of giving for something "visible") can be problematical. It's actually easier to fund-raise for a new garden or a new statue than to get the sewage system upgraded or the mortgage paid off...

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby Modus.Ponens » Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:49 pm

If I remember correctly, the Buddha prohibited his disciples of doing statues of him. He only allowed statues of bodhisattas.
And the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus, saying: "Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!"

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby Dan74 » Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:03 am

From my experience I would imagine there would be plenty of wealthy Thai people scrambling out of their BMW or Mercedes to donate to "The largest Buddha in Thailand".


I guess it is a step forward from putting in an olympic sized pool in their back-yard etc.
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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby appicchato » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:34 am

Lampang wrote:I think any consideration of the benefits, and there obviously are benefits, has also to consider the opportunity costs. What else could be done with the same amount of money? Rural Thailand is not a wealthy place and there are real and pressing material needs which should be met. Are the benefits of building a giant statute sufficiently great that they warrant diverting resources away the rather more profane goals of improving health and education? I'm not so sure.


While I don't disagree with you I find this another case of the Occidental setting the bar as to how it should be...pressing material needs?...which ones?...they grow rice and eat it, they cut down bamboo and build shelter (with a hammock nearby), they share their food with the less fortunate, they play with their kids...admittedly a grim outlook from the Western Hemisphere's perspective, but not everyone sees it that way...health wise?... one could argue that in certain ways they're way ahead of the game in some respects...three quarters of the population isn't obese, no heart attacks, going postal, abortions, murders, on and on...education?...to what end?...the better job, to make more money, to buy more stuff?...again, bottom line is many find them to be smarter in myriad ways in comparison to their Caucasian brothers and sisters...it's called living simply...

Okay, end of :soap:

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby Bankei » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:02 am

I am generally opposed to spending money on monuments while people suffer.

At my local Wat in Thailand they had constructed a huge Bot (ordination Hall) which cost around 40,000,000B ($2mil US). Yet right across the road there are poor people who are greatly suffering - mainly medical.

One young boy has big problems because his mother took medicine to try to abort him while she was pregnant. It didn't work and he has big problems as a result. I have offered to pay for his operation, but he needs to attain 10kg before they can do it - he is 4 or 5 now and still not there.

Another young woman is mentally disabled and she has been pregnant a few times because men in the village have sex with her. Her poor old mum takes care of these kids. They are living in a old shack, with little money etc. One of the kids actually steals donations from the temple donation box - i think everyone turns a bit of a blind eye to this.

I recently went to a few hospitals in the countryside of Thailand too. They are very scary places. One was full of aids sufferers and people with TB. Its more like a hospice than a hospital as no attempts are made to cure the patients, very little medicine is provided. Its very sad indeed.

So money can be better utilised I think.

But this is not just a Thai problem or a Buddhist problem. The same happens in all countries.

I don't know what can be done about it, but to chose carefully where you put/use/donate your own money.
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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby bodom » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:48 am

"... A man by means of wealth acquired by energetic striving... both enjoys his wealth and does meritorious deeds therewith. At the thought: 'By means of wealth acquired... I both enjoy my wealth and do meritorious deeds,' bliss comes to him, satisfaction comes to him. This, housefather, is called 'the bliss of wealth.' - AN 4.62

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The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby Lampang » Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:52 am

While I don't disagree with you I find this another case of the Occidental setting the bar as to how it should be...pressing material needs?...which ones?...they grow rice and eat it, they cut down bamboo and build shelter (with a hammock nearby), they share their food with the less fortunate, they play with their kids...admittedly a grim outlook from the Western Hemisphere's perspective, but not everyone sees it that way...health wise?... one could argue that in certain ways they're way ahead of the game in some respects...three quarters of the population isn't obese, no heart attacks, going postal, abortions, murders, on and on...education?...to what end?...the better job, to make more money, to buy more stuff?...again, bottom line is many find them to be smarter in myriad ways in comparison to their Caucasian brothers and sisters...it's called living simply...


I live in rural Thailand and I'm white. You live in rural Thailand and you're white. Why is that I'm guilty of some kind of racial blindness to the facts which you escape? And whilst the picture of smiling farmers going lazily about their life is one side of the coin, the other is alcoholism, drug abuse, debt, gambling, superstition, poverty of expectations, an oppressive conservatism, sexual violence, domestic abuse and bunch more ills, all of which are directly related to the material poverty of the villagers.There are very clear material needs which aren't being met and this isn't a radical interpretation which I came up with yesterday. There is, after all, a long running political crisis in Thailand which originates at least in part in this fact. And - to be honest - I find it really shocking that someone in a position to influence attitudes should be so dismissive of education. Do you really think that the rural poor shouldn't be educated? Is this something to be reserved only for their yellow-shirted 'betters' in Bangkok? A large proportion of the students at the Rajabhat where my wife works come from rural farming backgrounds. Pretty much none of them want to do what their parents did and none of their parents want their children to follow in their footsteps (i.e. as rice farmers, or - less often - farmers of something else) and I can't blame them because it's back-breaking labour for really minimal rewards and education is how they get the chance to escape a world they're not interested in. In fact, the students I know in the Agriculture Department had to fight with their parents to study farming because their parents felt that it was such a bad life-choice. But even if you take away the instrumental justification for education, which you should, it has value in itself, just as much for the daughter of a rice farmer as for the son of a lawyer. Just as it opens up exterior possibilities, education opens up interior possibilities of extraordinary value and to dismiss that is to make a grave error indeed. And this means that if the building of giant statues is justified, it's of more value than educating the young. I honestly can't see how that can possibly be the case.

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby appicchato » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:27 am

Hi Lampang,

Well, you're right, all of the negatives you speak of are here...I'm not saying you're guilty of anything, why do you say that?...no, I don't think the rural poor shouldn't be educated, I'm all for it...I tutor Thai kids in English way more than I would actually care to, if I had my druthers, but I find myself unable to say no when asked...you say that education opens up interior possibilities of extraordinary value, this is true, although there are many interpretations of the term value...I personally find Thai human traits to be way ahead of our Occidental brethren (and this education doesn't happen in the classroom)...granted they could probably be doing better, but couldn't we all?...as a comparison look at the educational stats in America, where half the kids in middle school can't even read, or name the Vice President, or point to Idaho on the map...I find that the rural folk, and Thais in general, are very easy going, friendly, unassuming, kind people (that's an education)...how does that compare with the gun-toting, in-your-face attitude increasingly prevalent in many places today?...what I was attempting to get at, and what you're referring to as the kids wanting out, as well as their parents wanting them to, is the larger picture of the Western view of more stuff as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that has come with (I guess you'd call it) globalization...cash is basically king these days, no?...

It's not much of a secret that humanity is on the fast track to oblivion...why is this?...one thing I'm confident of and that is it's not the result of the rice farmer gone over the top...

I'm no expert on anything, it's just the way I see things here...call me nuts, that's all right...I respect your view and wish you well... :smile:

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby mykeawja » Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:04 am

Did you know that Thai people will have a few people understand Buddhism.
Thai Buddhists. Not mean that. Must understand the main religion with.
And this Giant Pra-buth-ta-roop is not about habits or behavior of Thai people.
But it means a spirit of respect.
If you move this thing to the Japanese.
We still controversial in the same topic or not.

So, faith, beliefs and behavior habits of Thai people. Sometimes it is not always related.
Bad people donated to build this thing.
Good people donated to build this thing.
Poor people donated to build this thing.
And rich people donated to build this thing.
Therefore, what do not even security issues in life. But it is a subject for a mental Pantip.
Sometime...Nothing is nothing.
Sometime...Nothing is the best.

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby zavk » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:46 am

appicchato wrote:While I don't disagree with you I find this another case of the Occidental setting the bar as to how it should be...


I think it is important to be mindful of this too, Ven. As I see it, this is not to say that we cannot raise questions about the skillfulness of building such monuments or make criticism about the ways in which the money is collected/spent. Rather, it is merely to point out that we need to be mindful that we do not take our framework of understanding as the universal standard for evaluation.

To give a analogy: Western feminist critics have argued against the wearing of headscarves and/or burqa by women in certain Muslim societies. From an Occidental perspective, the headscarf/burqa is seen as an expression of the wider oppression of women. Such an argument is certainly not unreasonable; there is certainly evidence of social injustices perpetuated against women in some of these societies. So from the Occidental perspective, it is important to abolish such a custom in order to 'liberate' those women.

However, Muslim women have also spoken on the issue: Some of them choose to wear the headscarf/burqa because it allows them to express their faith. For some of them, it is an ethical decision to wear the outfit--it is related to such virtues as honor and respect. Some Muslim women have even said that the outfit allows them to resist the objectification/sexualization of the female body that is so common in Western culture. So from their perspective, what is 'liberating' to Western women is in fact 'subjugating' to them.

So there is no one universal standard to evaluate such matters. Both perspectives have their pros and cons. It is certainly important to point out flaws where they are to be found--as we are doing here. But at the same time, it is also important to not essentialise one's own position. This is, however, something that we lapse into all too often; we can only try to be as mindful as possible. In the case of the giant rupa, while we are raising some important questions, I suspect some Thai people would be baffled by the hoo-hah that we are making because it would appear to them to be quite beside the point (and who are we to categorically dismiss their understanding as 'wrong'?)--this seems to be what the OP is saying in his responses.

Anyway, this is how I would interpret Ven's comment... :anjali:
With metta,
zavk

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby appicchato » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:56 am

zavk wrote:...we need to be mindful that we do not take our framework of understanding as the universal standard for evaluation...it is also important to not essentialise one's own position.


:thumbsup:

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Re: Giant Buddha Rupas - Pros and Cons

Postby nathan » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:57 am

Even a cursory examination of the world will lead to the conclusion that the world is unreasonable.

With sufficient introspection one will come to see that the entire universe is unreasonable, including oneself.

The world appears to be particularly frustrating for those who are trying to reason with it. It has been demonstrated with relentless consistency that the application of reasoning has no effect on the pervasive unreasonableness of the world.

So why should this be any different? The Buddha is reported to have disapproved of images being made of him. Now such images are among some of the largest structures on earth.

Relax.
It's only natural that things should unfold in this way.

:console:
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}


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