I think it all depends. A couple of points to consider:
The key moments in Gautama's life were outside, in the open, under a tree. His birth, enlightenment, death and the vast majority of his teachings. I have no problems with commemorating this aspect of the Buddha's life. Personally, I see no problem with landscape gardening an outdoor shrine as part of a garden. But so long as the shrine has a religious/spiritual or meditative purpose and is not commissioned for the purpose of an exotic decoration. If I were to design an outdoor shrine, I would use the floor-plan of a shrine room in a temple as a guide. Most Asian Buddhist shrines are indoors where the Buddha-rupa is elevated off the floor on a platform. As a mark of respect to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
What I don't like is the reduction of the Buddha as garden gnome. And I think that's an attitude that is shared among many Buddhists in the East or West.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725
(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •
e: [email protected]