Did you ever have the nagging feeling you had made a mistake? Mine caught up to me in the shower this morning. So I decided I had to edit my post from yesterday. And today I’ll explain why.
Not the whole story, but yesterday I included in my post a cute photo of me, appearing to rub noses with a carved face of Buddha (which was actually in the distance.). I didn’t know what the picture would be when I was directed to pose for it. And I thought it was amusing.
But when I put it into my blog writing, and then saw it come up as the illustration to the piece in my site’s front page, I got an uneasy feeling. I hadn’t meant for that to happen. Why not? Why should this even be a “deal?”
Well, when visiting Thailand, I learned some things about Buddhism’s feelings about images of Buddha. We all know that religions have definite ideas about the power of images, and for how they are to be used. Muslims don’t create images of Muhammad. Christians usually have a single, powerful image of Jesus displayed. Buddhist temples have many, many images of Buddha. In fact, at the ancient capital of Ayutthaya there is a large courtyard surrounded by identical statues of sitting Buddhas, all decapitated by the invading Burmese many years ago. Worshippers in Thai temples can buy small squares of gold leaf to lovingly press onto Buddha statues. In fact in my country, Buddha statues are often sold to make nice household and garden decorations.
So if there are so many Buddhas, why not let my photo stay?
Because I learned, visiting Bangkok, how it should be. In major tourist-visited temples, there are umbrellas providing shade along the walkways. They also provide this message, written in English around their rims: “Knowing Buddha- Not for Tattoo, Not for Decoration…” I learned then- to respect Buddha is to only use his image for worship. My photo didn’t meet that criterion, so I am cutting it. In the shower this morning my subconscious bubbled up and I realized- I know better.