Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Pictures of revered teachers, places, rupas, temples, bhikkhus, shrine rooms etc. that bring inspiration to our members. Pilgrimage advice etc.

Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby fernrichardson » Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:33 pm

Hello, and thank you for taking the time to read and answer my question.

I am writing a book on gardening, and in the section covering Asian style gardening techniques and plants, I would like to address the issue of using Buddha statues in the garden. My initial reaction is that non-Buddhists should not put Buddha statues in their gardens. But then I thought that perhaps I am projecting my own cultural and religious opinions where they don't belong, and I should "go to the source" so to speak. I plan on speaking with a Colorado-based Buddhist monk who is also a renowned landscape designer next week about this topic. I am hoping that you all can help educate me on the issues regarding using Buddha statues in the garden, so that I can ask informed questions when I speak with him.

To succinctly state my questions:

1) Is it appropriate for non-Buddhists to use Buddhist statuary in their gardens?

2) If there are circumstances in which such people could respectfully use Buddhist statuary in their gardens, are there guidelines for use, placement, care of the statuary, etc?

Thank you very much!

Fern
fernrichardson
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:24 pm

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby theravada_guy » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:52 am

Fern,

From what I understand, and I will give a reference below, is that Buddha statues (Buddharupas) should not be used as a decoration. I'm sure there are different opinions, but this is the one I go by. To me, it does seem disrespectful to use an image of our Teacher as a mere decoration. Should non-Buddhists use Buddharupas? Well...My opinion is, no, they shouldn't, because it would be reduced to being used as a decoration, in most cases anyway.

Buddha images should not be used as items of living room decoration.


My source is as below, third paragraph, last sentence.

http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/devotion/devotion02.htm

Please be aware this is my opinion, but I think it reflects a lot of other peoples' opinions based on the source, who is a Sri Lankan bhikkhu (monk). Maybe Westerners are more lax on this, I don't know.

Hope this helps!
With metta,

Justin
User avatar
theravada_guy
 
Posts: 207
Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:06 am
Location: Illinois, USA

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:59 am

fernrichardson wrote:1) Is it appropriate for non-Buddhists to use Buddhist statuary in their gardens?

2) If there are circumstances in which such people could respectfully use Buddhist statuary in their gardens, are there guidelines for use, placement, care of the statuary, etc?

It depends on the Buddhist. Traditionalists and lots of Buddhists in Asia might see it as sacrilege (some of them actually go so far to demand that Buddha statues have certain rules, always being kept clean, and be ritually disposed of if they need to be removed).

However, in early Buddhism there were no such statues and they seem to have developed as a result of Greek influence:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Buddhist_art#Buddha

There is nothing in the suttas about these statues or any of the iconography used today.

What is there, though is the Buddha discouraging people from obsessing over his physical appearance. He also said that his true body is the dhamma.

The use of Buddha statues may itself be dhamma or not. If it's a non-Buddhist using a Buddha statue, why should it matter to us?

If it's a Buddhist... it could go either way: it's possible the statue is to show off, as arrogance, to proselytize, to obsess...

However, images of the Buddha can also be there to remind us of the important things -- like mindfulness.

As I see it, such statues distort what was a non-theistic dhamma into a theistic one, in which the Buddha is worshiped like a god. It could be useful, or it could be "clinging to rites and rituals," an obstacle to stream-entry.

I'd ask yourself: If the wind blew and knocked over your statue, breaking it into pieces, how would you feel? What would you lose? Is it just a statue?
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby fernrichardson » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:07 pm

Thank you very much for your responses Individual and theravada_guy!

Individual--Since it seems that you feel that the lack of scriptural guidance on the matter of Buddha statues means that you're agnostic on whether non-Buddhists should use Buddha statues, do you care how they treat the statue in their garden?
fernrichardson
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:24 pm

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:22 pm

Its just a statue...
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:23 pm

I don't know about other asian cultures but i think most Thais would consider it wrong to put a Buddha image in the garden, they are usually only put into a shrine room and even then I think there are rules about the direction they should face etc.

I have several all around the house, to me they are just a reminder of what's important to me, nothing more.

I think if the garden where arranged in such a way that the Buddha image conveyed a message, something about about peace or serenity, then that would be good.

Ask yourself, would you put a crucifix in the garden?
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1709
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:10 pm

fernrichardson wrote:Thank you very much for your responses Individual and theravada_guy!

Individual--Since it seems that you feel that the lack of scriptural guidance on the matter of Buddha statues means that you're agnostic on whether non-Buddhists should use Buddha statues, do you care how they treat the statue in their garden?

I don't know if "agnostic" is the right word. I would use the word "discerning."

Show me a case and I'll tell you what I think. Otherwise, a grand declaration on how Buddha statues always ought to be used or not used seems rather arrogant. If people don't follow what I'd say, then what? Become angry? Shun them? Think of them as bad or ignorant people? :)

clw_uk wrote:Its just a statue...

It could be, but it's also an important symbol!

Is the American flag "just a flag"?

It could be that protecting these symbols can be a form of arrogance, or a useful form of pride.

If symbols of America or Buddhism, or pride in America or Buddhism... if these things lead to an appreciation of freedom, then good. But if they lead to anything bad, then... burn the flag and smash the statue; it's just a flag or a statue, after all.

Goofaholix wrote:I don't know about other asian cultures but i think most Thais would consider it wrong to put a Buddha image in the garden

These same Thais are also apparently in a violent conflict with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple. They're idiots.
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:16 pm

It could be, but it's also an important symbol!


Its a statue. If you get upset because someone throws it on the flow or uses it as decoration, that is aversion

Is the American flag "just a flag"?


Yes and the importance to it is simply from peoples projections



If symbols of America or Buddhism, or pride in America or Buddhism... if these things lead to an appreciation of freedom, then good. But if they lead to anything bad, then... burn the flag and smash the statue; it's just a flag or a statue, after all.


Or just be mindful


If someone uses the buddha statue as decoration it doesnt matter, what matters is observing the feeling that arises when you see someone do this
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:17 pm

clw_uk wrote:
It could be, but it's also an important symbol!


Its a statue. If you get upset because someone throws it on the flow or uses it as decoration, that is aversion

If I threw you on the floor and you got upset, wouldn't that be aversion too?

Is this "just a body"? Or does it have a special meaning and an intrinsic value?
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby fernrichardson » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:20 pm

Show me a case and I'll tell you what I think. Otherwise, a grand declaration on how Buddha statues always ought to be used or not used seems rather arrogant. If people don't follow what I'd say, then what? Become angry? Shun them? Think of them as bad or ignorant people?

No, of course not. The point, in my case, would be to answer the hypothetical question of my readers, "How can I incorporate a Buddha statue into my garden in a respectful way." So I am looking for guidance about how to answer that question. I'm not asking you to have an opinion on what happens if someone doesn't follow your advice.

Ask yourself, would you put a crucifix in the garden?


I'm Jewish, so I wouldn't want a crucifix in my garden. Though I know that many Christians have statues of saints and the like in their gardens. To get the conversation back on point, I also don't feel it is within my values for me to have a Buddha in my garden, since it is not in keeping with my personal religious practices. I am just trying to figure out how to guide other people. Whether this is a topic where I should say, "don't do it, it's disrespectful" or "If you decide to have a statue, here's how to do it."
fernrichardson
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:24 pm

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:21 pm

If I threw you on the floor and you got upset, wouldn't that be aversion too?


If by upset you mean not being mindful of the painful sensation and averting from it, and thus experiencing grief, then yes it is aversion


In the case of pleasant feelings, O monks, the underlying tendency[1] to lust should be given up; in the case of painful feelings, the underlying tendency to resistance (aversion) should be given up; in the case of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings, the underlying tendency to ignorance should be given up.

"If a monk has given up the tendency to lust in regard to pleasant feeling, the tendency to resistance in regard to painful feelings, and the tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings, then he is called one who is free of (unwholesome) tendencies, one who has the right outlook. He has cut off craving, severed the fetters (to future existence), and through the full penetration of conceit,[2] he has made an end of suffering."


If one feels joy, but knows not feeling's nature,
bent towards greed, he will not find deliverance.

If one feels pain, but knows not feeling's nature,
bent toward hate, he will not find deliverance.

And even neutral feeling which as peaceful
the Lord of Wisdom has proclaimed,
if, in attachment, he should cling to it,
he will not be free from the round of ill.

And having done so, in this very life
will be free from cankers, free from taints.

Mature in knowledge, firm in Dhamma's ways,
when once his life-span ends, his body breaks,
all measure and concept he has transcended.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

Is this "just a body"? Or does it have a special meaning and an intrinsic value


Its just a body
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:31 pm

clw_uk wrote:
If I threw you on the floor and you got upset, wouldn't that be aversion too?


If by upset you mean not being mindful of the painful sensation and averting from it, and thus experiencing grief, then yes it is aversion


In the case of pleasant feelings, O monks, the underlying tendency[1] to lust should be given up; in the case of painful feelings, the underlying tendency to resistance (aversion) should be given up; in the case of neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings, the underlying tendency to ignorance should be given up.

"If a monk has given up the tendency to lust in regard to pleasant feeling, the tendency to resistance in regard to painful feelings, and the tendency to ignorance in regard to neither-painful-nor-pleasant feelings, then he is called one who is free of (unwholesome) tendencies, one who has the right outlook. He has cut off craving, severed the fetters (to future existence), and through the full penetration of conceit,[2] he has made an end of suffering."


If one feels joy, but knows not feeling's nature,
bent towards greed, he will not find deliverance.

If one feels pain, but knows not feeling's nature,
bent toward hate, he will not find deliverance.

And even neutral feeling which as peaceful
the Lord of Wisdom has proclaimed,
if, in attachment, he should cling to it,
he will not be free from the round of ill.

And having done so, in this very life
will be free from cankers, free from taints.

Mature in knowledge, firm in Dhamma's ways,
when once his life-span ends, his body breaks,
all measure and concept he has transcended.



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nypo.html

Is this "just a body"? Or does it have a special meaning and an intrinsic value


Its just a body

LOL, you're insane.
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:35 pm

LOL, you're insane.


Insanity is craving


What I have said is in line with the Buddhas teaching


:anjali:
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 23, 2011 10:43 pm

fernrichardson wrote:I'm Jewish, so I wouldn't want a crucifix in my garden. Though I know that many Christians have statues of saints and the like in their gardens. To get the conversation back on point, I also don't feel it is within my values for me to have a Buddha in my garden, since it is not in keeping with my personal religious practices. I am just trying to figure out how to guide other people. Whether this is a topic where I should say, "don't do it, it's disrespectful" or "If you decide to have a statue, here's how to do it."

If it's not within your personal religious practices, then I wouldn't do it. If you think it would be wrong or disrespectful, then again, I wouldn't do it either.

From an Orthodox or Conservative Jewish perspective, these statues are idolatry. If you're something like a Reform Jew or only semi-religious and you eat pork, etc., then... it's up to you. Some traditionalists, like Buddhists of Asian descent, they won't like it but they'll be too respectful (or cowardly??) to say anything to your face. Most western Buddhists honestly won't care. You're more likely to have a Jewish or Christian or Muslim person be offended by the statue than a Buddhist. And if any of them are offended, you could tell them it's none of their business or maybe you could apologize and say that removing the statue is a good idea. It's up to you.

You guide people by paying attention to the context (the intent and consequence), having good intents and desiring good consequences; the means is irrelevant. Even though I said, "It's up to you," twice, that doesn't mean something like moral relativism. It's just that the rules of correct morality and good living are innumerable. With discernment, you don't need to read them all or write them all down.
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:41 am

Individual, I didnt write what you quoted me as saying above
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 24, 2011 12:44 am

clw_uk wrote:Individual, I didnt write what you quoted me as saying above


Fixed.

:anjali:
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
User avatar
bodom
 
Posts: 4535
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2009 6:18 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:32 am

Individual wrote:These same Thais are also apparently in a violent conflict with Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple. They're idiots.


Calling 60 million people idiots? How does that help answer the OP's question?
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1709
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Goofaholix » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:38 am

fernrichardson wrote:I'm Jewish, so I wouldn't want a crucifix in my garden. Though I know that many Christians have statues of saints and the like in their gardens. To get the conversation back on point, I also don't feel it is within my values for me to have a Buddha in my garden, since it is not in keeping with my personal religious practices. I am just trying to figure out how to guide other people. Whether this is a topic where I should say, "don't do it, it's disrespectful" or "If you decide to have a statue, here's how to do it."


It's good that you have the consideration to ask the question. I think most western Buddhists don't attach a lot of significance to religious iconography, but asians do. I think you should ask your readers to think about the meaning of any statue or decoration they put in the garden, not just do it because it's fashionable, Buddha statues are no different.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
User avatar
Goofaholix
 
Posts: 1709
Joined: Sun Nov 15, 2009 3:49 am
Location: New Zealand

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby Individual » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:14 am

clw_uk wrote:Individual, I didnt write what you quoted me as saying above

It looks like somebody fixed it. It was unintentional. Sorry. Thanks for pointing it out. :)
The best things in life aren't things.

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

Re: Using Buddha Statues in the Garden

Postby clw_uk » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:19 am

Individual wrote:
clw_uk wrote:Individual, I didnt write what you quoted me as saying above

It looks like somebody fixed it. It was unintentional. Sorry. Thanks for pointing it out. :)



I thought it was unintentional dont worry friend :)
Open your mind and see, open your mind and rise. Shine the light of wisdom and see, don't wait till the end of time.
User avatar
clw_uk
 
Posts: 3284
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: Wales, United Kingdom

Next

Return to Shrine Room

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 5 guests