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Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby Thaibebop » Fri Jun 26, 2009 2:59 pm

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James N. Dawson
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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby James N. Dawson » Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:18 am

Following are a series of e-mails germaine to the issue I wrote ca. 2006. I believe the protest was over "washing the baby Buddha" performed in Mahayana countries at the Mahabodhi temple:

Dear Venerable Ananda, Ken and Visakha:

I did go ahead and politely e-mail the officials you
requested us to, encouraging them to cancel said
celebrations, even though for various reasons I've
been hesitant to really involve myself in such issues
for many years.

As you can see from the attachment to this letter, the
issue is complex. If Buddhagaya and the Mahabodhi
Temple is for ALL the world's Buddhists, certainly it
is for the Zen Buddhists. And if it's for the Zen
Buddhists, it must be for those among them for whom
"iconoclasm" and "inappropriate behavior" is an
important expression of their mode of

Anway, I'll leave you with the attachment to further
explain my point.

I hope the situation resolves itself to the
satisfaction of all parties.

Respectfully in the Dhamma,

James N. Dawson



{ I sent this email by but it was returned to me so I am trying another email address.)

Dear James,

I am filing a complaint about a high profile business in Melbourne which uses the trading name "Chocolate Buddha" Basically , I am objecting because such a name is a serious trivialization of the Buddha and by implication ,his Teachings.We have plenty of prejudice here in Australia against Buddhism ,by the way. I am not opposed to the use of the word "Buddha" by businesses per se, but I do object to the name being linked to inappropriate adjectives or attributes.

Thus I have no problem with Golden Buddha / Radiant Buddha etc.etc.I am definitely NOT judgmental in my complaint about the use of Chocolate Buddha as a trading name- my objection is solely based on the conviction that such a name tends to disparage the Buddha and his Teachings and will tend to bolster prejudice and encourage the dismissal of the Buddhas' Teachings as a viable and wise guide to life.

If you are interested in this matter then , I certainly would appreciate your input. I need to prepare a response in about a fortnight and am working on it already and have made considerable progress as the reply to my initial formal complaint to the equal opportunity commission here is very weak and subjective.

By " high profile" I mean really high profile.This Cafe Chocolate Buddha is situated in the new Federation Square Complex in central Melbourne.Millions a have been poured into developing it without restraint. The buildings are of a stunning, very hi-tech design and the whole Complex is seen as Melbourne's answer to the Sydney Opera house! The context here is traditional rivalry between Australia's two largest cities !
I close now. Take care of yourself and I look forward to hearing from you. TERRY

Forwarded Message: Re: Chocolate Buddha
Re: Chocolate BuddhaFriday, February 28, 2003 4:43 PM
From: "James Dawson" <[email protected]>To: "(Mr.) T.A.BURGESS" <[email protected]>Dear Terry:

I distinctly remember your writing me about this and my sending you reply, but I can't find the latter in my "sent file".

Terry, I hope you won't be put off with me, but in accordance with my libertarian principles, as distasteful, insensitive and disrespectful as this company's abuse of the Buddha's name is, and indeed it is all of these, I don't believe in a government commision to forbid it. It's one of those perhaps unpleasant stands I have to take as a libertarian and advocate of free speech, even when stupid and offensive.

However, this trivilization problem also part of a larger issue. Many Zen practicioners, both Asian traditionalists and Western, also practice this sort of "irreverence" as a matter of principle. For instance, there was a Korean Zen master by the name of So An Sim (I'm not sure about the spelling), who wrote a book called "Dropping Ashes on the Buddha", and in whose meditation center it was made a practice to take Dhamma books into the bathroom. It was all part of a deliberate "iconoclasm". Similarly, there were a couple books by Westerners several decades ago, one called "If You Meet the Buddha by the Roadside, Kill Him", and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", the latter of which, might be regarded as something of a trivialization. Certainly this company could point to such practices of many Buddhists themselves as a justification for their own choice of their restaurant's name. Further, is there a consensus among the larger Buddhist community in Australia against this company using the name of the Enlightened One in this way?

To many Westerners, Buddhism is Zen, and Zen is iconoclasm and irreverence. I don't share this attitude, but in situations like this one, I feel you might be fighting a lonely battle.

Please don't take this as criticism or dissuasion from your efforts. I respect and share your feelings on the matter. If the EOC fails to take action, what about getting a petition requesting a name change, getting as many Buddhist signatures as possible, and presenting it to this company.

Whatever course you think is best, good luck, and I hope you'll understand my position.

Your Dhamma friend,


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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:48 am

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:52 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby appicchato » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:35 am

Slightly off topic here, sorry...

In Thailand water is used in virtually every ceremony (involving lay people) going...


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James N. Dawson
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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby James N. Dawson » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:17 am

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:42 am

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby christopher::: » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:53 pm

Hi all,

Concerning Zen "irreverence" my understanding is that its purpose is to remind practitioners that "objectification" is a false view. If you Meet Buddha on the Road kill him is meant as a metaphor for "if during the course of your practice you come to believe you are a Buddha- a fully enlightened being - banish that thought, kill it."

A story was just told about this over at ZFI, though i couldnt just now find it. A woman builds a hut for a monk to live in and meditate. He stays there for years. She sends her daughter over as a test to seduce him. He responds "I am beyond that, all desires have died, I am no longer touched by this world."

Hearing about this, the woman is disgusted and has the hut burned down.

"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009

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Re: Respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:12 pm

I think there are several issues here- to be effective externally and effective internally are two different things

you might raise a quiet petition

..bearing in mind that the buddha asked us to let go of attachment to the path itself (similie of the raft)
all suffering arises because we are attached -similarly we can easily become attached to the buddha's image
we take it as 'mine' and link it in with something which defines myself
then when someone desecrates it we fall into suffering

all of this easier said than done..

restraunt opened near to me called the 'Buddha'- probalby sells alcohol- should I complain? will it have any effect? am i giving rise to dfilements in the process? will they change the name? - or does all those buddha heads used for aesthetic beauty actually instill a sense of peace in those who view it and form positive links with buddhism in their minds?

does any of it ultiamtely matter?

:jedi: or :meditate: ?
With Metta

& Upekkha

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