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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:42 am 
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Could any offer insight as how-to explain to people of other faiths that Buddha is not an idol?..maybe a scholar's review? wondering, thanks.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:53 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:57 am 
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It's hard to say without knowing what level of understanding the person you are explaining to is capable of (and possibly also what form of Buddhism you practice yourself). I would probably suggest the teachings on the two truths and explain the idea of emptiness - which means that Buddhism is not theistic.
Maybe also something about what taking refuge actually means, and the idea that Buddha nature is an idea of pure form devoid of personal "character" or "personailty", ie. taking refuge in Buddha as representing mind's full development and his teachings which show us how to achieve that.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:24 am 
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Good answers, so far. Some of it depends upon how you, yourself, see 'Buddha'...

Perhaps explaining that Guatama Buddha, himself, never wanted to be worshiped as a 'god' nor did he want images of him, or even his words, to be 'worshiped'. On the other hand, images help some people visualize 'greatness', so images can be beneficial for some to understand his great teachings.

If your friends and family subscribe to an Abrahamic religion, however, they will likely not want to understand as there are strong 'commandments' against 'graven idols'.

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:36 am 
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Focus on dependent-origination and buddhist logic. Through rational analysis they will come to accept the formal, with the study of buddhist logic, certainty about the formal will arise. The entire doctrine (law) of buddhism is centered about dependent-origination, so it must be accepted with certainty before the buddhist paths can be taught and practice. The Buddha is none other than the person who directly perceived the law of dependent-origination, his example demonstrate that anyone can do the same, and the meaning of worship the Buddha as an idol is just to admire his example, but one has to actually perceived the law of dependent-origination, study and practice the path of buddhism.

Jyoti


Last edited by Jyoti on Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:38 am 
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viniketa wrote:
Good answers, so far. Some of it depends upon how you, yourself, see 'Buddha'...


As the Tathagata ~ thus gone one. (One who has gone beyond) ...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:47 am 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
As the Tathagata ~ thus gone one. (One who has gone beyond) ...


Then stick to what you 'know' as 'truth' in your own heart to explain to others. Those who want to understand will make the effort. Those who don't, doesn't matter much what you say to them...

:namaste:

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 3:56 am 
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tell them a Buddha is still dependently originated.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:02 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:17 am 
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:good:

Good point, Kunga! :smile:

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:41 am 
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It is an aspect of many religions that other people's statues are idols whereas their own are sacred objects of worship.
In the case of Islam, all statues and images are frowned upon, although I personally think that they have simply substituted Koranic text as an 'image'.
Although in modern times the followers of Islam have destroyed many Buddhist statues, rock carvings etc. they are perhaps no better nor worse in that respect than others during history.

In the West, 'idol' has often been used of Hindu and Buddhist statues:

'There's a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu' (poem)

Answer to the OP: Tell people that it isn't an idol, just a reminder to us all that we can find peace and lasting happiness by following Buddha's teachings.
Lots of places have statues of Buddha simply as an object which helps people feel peaceful.

Aesthetically, people also seem to find some materials annoying - especially brass and gold paint.

When it comes to Tantric deities I tend to keep my shrine covered when there are visitors. Some say that letting others see holy beings blesses them, but some images are easily misinterpreted so I tend towards privacy.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:22 am 
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Buddha is an idol, why would you explain it otherwise? If he was not an idol people wouldn't follow him in the first place.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:59 pm 
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I think a lot of people over here in the west get hung up over the word "idol" and its use.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:18 pm 
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I've treated Buddhist artifacts as idols,...today. What else would you call venerating the bones of the Buddha or creating a shrine? If the shrine contains images and you make offerings what else would you call them? Look how we treat images and texts. Own your primitive and highly enjoyable idolatry. Better than those emotionally dried up devotionless Zen folk IMO. :stirthepot:

Not everyone who is Buddhist is a scholar or Western intellectual. Many simply have faith in their idols. The Buddha was perfectly fine with that and helped them impartially.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:03 pm 
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Buddha should be on American Idol.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:05 pm 
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Blue Garuda wrote:
It is an aspect of many religions that other people's statues are idols whereas their own are sacred objects of worship.


It's a 'mine is better than yours' attitude. Their 'idol' is fine but yours isn't.


Quote:
Answer to the OP: Tell people that it isn't an idol, just a reminder to us all that we can find peace and lasting happiness by following Buddha's teachings.
Lots of places have statues of Buddha simply as an object which helps people feel peaceful.

Aesthetically, people also seem to find some materials annoying - especially brass and gold paint.


:twothumbsup: :good:

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One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 7:42 pm 
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oushi wrote:
Buddha is an idol, why would you explain it otherwise?


It doesn't seem like he (the Gautauma Buddha) wanted people to worship or idolize him in the first place.

St. John Damascene from the Orthodox Christian tradition was able to explain how icons or depictions of saints were not intended for worship ~ the same sort of technique could be applied to the use of images and thangkes of buddhist saints...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:09 pm 
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Wesley1982 wrote:
oushi wrote:
Buddha is an idol, why would you explain it otherwise?


It doesn't seem like he (the Gautauma Buddha) wanted people to worship or idolize him in the first place.

Certainly he wanted people to follow his teachings, his guidance, and behavior. So, if you follow his teachings, and behave according to his guidance, he is an authority for you.
There is nothing wrong in this, nothing to be ashamed of.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:17 pm 
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oushi wrote:
Certainly he wanted people to follow his teachings, his guidance, and behavior. So, if you follow his teachings, and behave according to his guidance, he is an authority for you.
There is nothing wrong in this, nothing to be ashamed of.


Quite so. Different traditions view Buddha differently; as Buddha said, seek the truth for yourself.

oushi wrote:
St. John Damascene from the Orthodox Christian tradition was able to explain how icons or depictions of saints were not intended for worship ~ the same sort of technique could be applied to the use of images and thangkes of buddhist saints...


Yes. The idea is very much the same.

:namaste:

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