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 Post subject: Buddhist themed products
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:27 am 
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What do you think of Buddhist organizations designing and producing Buddhist themed products apart from statues and icons?

For instance, children's clothing with cute bodhisattva images printed on them, various vegetarian edibles, environmentally friendly detergents, bedding, dinnerware (mugs and so on), or Buddhist themed stationary, iPhone covers and so on?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:54 am 
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Those products don't seem to help one's practice. That being so, what could be the motivation for selling them?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:29 am 
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Konchog1 wrote:
Those products don't seem to help one's practice. That being so, what could be the motivation for selling them?


- A form of fundraising for other projects.

- The idea that it somehow creates causes and conditions with which the individual can become connected to Buddhism in this and future lives.

- The idea that it is a skilful way of adapting to modern customs and habits (i.e., adopting consumerism, but doing it with an alternative aim in mind).

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:37 am 
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Huseng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Those products don't seem to help one's practice. That being so, what could be the motivation for selling them?


- A form of fundraising for other projects.

- The idea that it somehow creates causes and conditions with which the individual can become connected to Buddhism in this and future lives.

- The idea that it is a skilful way of adapting to modern customs and habits (i.e., adopting consumerism, but doing it with an alternative aim in mind).


I don't think the third point there makes much sense. Looking at the examples of religious groups (e.g. Evangelical Protestant Churches) who have tried to do that, it ends up as just commodifying and diluting the teachings if it is even successful (in other cases, like Japanese temples using anime, it fails and is rather "try-hard").

There might be some slight justification for the second point, but on the other hand, there is already a lot of established lore about how the sight of statues and stupas will establish the conditions for liberation in some future life that I don't think there is much value in making little Buddhist knick-knacks.

I think it's undeniable that historically, Buddhism has mostly prospered with either state support or financial support of wealthy patrons. That doesn't mean it should always depend on those two things -- there is a much greater value in being decentralized and based around local economies as much as possible. For Buddhism (or Buddhist groups) to survive economic contraction in the decades ahead, it should try to avoid mass commercialization projects and to advocate a lifestyle not dependent on globalization.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:51 am 
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Sherlock wrote:
I don't think the third point there makes much sense. Looking at the examples of religious groups (e.g. Evangelical Protestant Churches) who have tried to do that, it ends up as just commodifying and diluting the teachings if it is even successful (in other cases, like Japanese temples using anime, it fails and is rather "try-hard").


Yeah, I've seen that in Japan as well. One even hired a girl to act as a cosplay representative for their temple.

While they don't go the anime route, some Chinese organizations produce products other than icons and books. There are the typical malas and so on, but you also see what I outlined above: mugs, clothing, edibles, etc...

I believe the idea behind it is that they are skilfully engaging in mainstream culture and providing potentially beneficial alternatives (like detergent that is maybe eco-friendly and has some pretty calligraphy on the side of the bottle).

I've never seen such things in India or Nepal, perhaps because monasteries are poor and/or don't feel it necessary to hire people specifically to design and market Buddhist themed products. Big temples in Japan sometimes have giftshops, but they're pretty low-key all things considered, even in touristy places like Kyoto and Nara.



Quote:
I think it's undeniable that historically, Buddhism has mostly prospered with either state support or financial support of wealthy patrons.


That's true, but they didn't get their big financing from people buying Buddhisty knick-knacks and so on. I think this is still true today for the most part. I don't think Buddhist themed kids clothes will compete with, say, Disney characters.


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For Buddhism (or Buddhist groups) to survive economic contraction in the decades ahead, it should try to avoid mass commercialization projects and to advocate a lifestyle not dependent on globalization.


I agree, but unfortunately not everyone has such ideas. The idea of permanent economic contraction is largely unheard of here in Taiwan for example (and much of Asia likewise hasn't seem to caught on to the trends). There is still a lot of expansionism both locally and abroad (building universities, giant memorial halls, large temples, etc...) in this part of the world. It is all quite capital intensive and no doubt depends on capitalist-industrialism, which is not exactly sustainable or good for the planet.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:53 am 
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On the one hand it's possibly feeding materialism, thus contributing to samsara.
On the other hand it's possibly helping to spread the Dharma.

Swings and roundabouts :shrug:

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:59 am 
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Seishin wrote:
On the one hand it's possibly feeding materialism, thus contributing to samsara.
On the other hand it's possibly helping to spread the Dharma.

Swings and roundabouts :shrug:



"Spreading the Dharma" nowadays is used to justify any number of projects of questionable worth.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:39 pm 
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Indeed

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:04 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
Konchog1 wrote:
Those products don't seem to help one's practice. That being so, what could be the motivation for selling them?


- A form of fundraising for other projects.

- The idea that it somehow creates causes and conditions with which the individual can become connected to Buddhism in this and future lives.

- The idea that it is a skilful way of adapting to modern customs and habits (i.e., adopting consumerism, but doing it with an alternative aim in mind).


I think the first two are good practice if done properly. There's a long history of this: Thai amulets, for instance.

I'll reserve my thoughts on the last one for later; I'm working through a big pile of scholarship on consumerism &c, including some that are explicitly Buddhist in orientation (Peter Hershock and David Loy most conspicuously). More later someday maybe.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:05 pm 
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I think I'd change my mug to another that has Guan Yin on it. :)

And T-shirts with bodhisattvas and such are also cool.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 9:07 am 
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In the right context I actually think simple Buddhist products like that are a good thing. I've got a couple of magnets and mugs with some Buddhist imagery on them, and when I see them they help bring my mind back to the Dharma for a moment.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 4:20 am 
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It is painful to see Buddhism being thrown on everything to sell stuff because when someone uses them they're representing you and your group, usually in a sub par way.

On one hand it triggers imprints from previous lives. I don't know if it plants useful imprints unless they understand what the symbols mean, and lets face it, they don't.

The reason the people buy these things is for attention, and, if these products do nothing else but warn you who to avoid, that's enough for me lol.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:31 pm 
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you manage consumerism or consumerism will manage you

a marketplace is a competition-ground for products

victory goes to those who are prepared, organized, follow a plan

preferences determine consumption until tradition determines market-share

eventually, only those who started competing are able to advertise well

business rushes in where entrepreneur practitioners sometimes fear to tread

it can take generations, and societal staging, for accomplishments to become advertisements

today we have mostly good faith naivete, novelty, sanity of doctrines, transparency, and a tremendously diverse corpus

if you want to sell dharma products, make sure you can trust your quality control process, production & distribution - everything else is a matter of preference


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:11 pm 
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Astus wrote:
I think I'd change my mug to another that has Guan Yin on it. :)

And T-shirts with bodhisattvas and such are also cool.


Many of us are mugs bowing to mugs already . . .
Kwan Yin mug and a venerable T-shirt. Sounds good to me too and a Bodhisattva T-shirt is a great way of keeping the 'serious' superficialists away from us beginners . . . maybe with a slogan, 'my other T-shirt is empty'.

:woohoo:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Huseng wrote:
What do you think of Buddhist organizations designing and producing Buddhist themed products apart from statues and icons?

For instance, children's clothing with cute bodhisattva images printed on them, various vegetarian edibles, environmentally friendly detergents, bedding, dinnerware (mugs and so on), or Buddhist themed stationary, iPhone covers and so on?


And then there's Dharma Burgers!

http://theworsthorse.com/category/dharma-burger/

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 12:58 am 
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There are Buddhist themed bars all over the place, Buddhist themed drug utensils, Buddhist themes in violent and pornographic video, there's hundreds of nasty old that call themselves tantrik lamas trying to hook up with youth, tantric massage parlors, there's people doing seminars on Buddhist themed hedonism, Buddhist themed Christianity, Buddhist themed corporate strategy, Buddhist themed fortune tellers, Buddhist themed smoothies, Buddhist themed aerobics, Buddhist themed architecture.

Maybe the imprint people get from these things is that Buddhism is just something you throw around casually, maybe these products lead people to hell by causing them to denigrate and have no respect for virtue.

:coffee: You could become a Buddhist terrorist trying to control people, but I don't think it's worth it. All these products will break on their own, all these people will die on their own, all their warped teachings will be forgotten, and the trouble they cause for Buddhists in the form of misrepresentation and trying to hijack Buddhism should be avoidable by just not telling everyone you meet you're Buddhist.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:14 am 
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Image
Image
:jawdrop:


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:16 am 
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lol I think we might have gotten off easy. I've noticed that a common brand of toilet seat and urinal reads "church" for decades.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:38 pm 
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That thing about selling various vegetarian edibles could be a very good thing if it encouraged even one person to eat vegetables and not animals, thereby sparing the animals much pain and suffering. Selling things is not necessarily a good or bad thing. If what you sell promotes a better way and substitutes for a more negative choice, is that not a good thing? I try to do just that with my colleagues by offering to bring the edibles for various things we do and bringing healthier non animal choices. Perhaps a huge difference is not made, but little tiny differences can all add up to a better world. At least for the animals.

By the way, re the whole vegetarian thing and whether it provides all that humans need - I was just reading this morning that there are grains, including quinoa, which do, indeed, provide complete proteins. And it is easy to cook.

corrine :namaste:


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