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Thread: Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival

  1. #1

    Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival

    Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival
    By Madhushala Senaratne and Gamini Mahadura, The Sunday Times, March 3, 2008

    Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Sri Lankan mission in Brasilia is still awaiting information from its Consul General in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil over images of the Lord Buddha being used in an irreverent manner at the Rio Carnival.

    The Sunday Times learns a float of Lord Buddha was carried as part of the parade at the recently concluded Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.

    A statue of a gold-painted Lord Buddha in meditation position, surrounded with lanterns, also painted in gold, artificial flowers and a pot was paraded along the streets of Rio as part of one of the biggest carnivals in the world.

    Attended by over 500,000 foreigners every year, the Rio carnival is a wild 4-day celebration held 40 days before Easter at the beginning of the Lentan period as an act of farewell to the pleasures of the flesh. Considered a major artistic event in the world, it includes events and aspects of Brazilian culture such as a Samba parade. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the issue had been referred to the Sri Lankan Mission based in Brasilia and they were waiting a response.

    When contacted by The Sunday Times, a senior official of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Brazil said the Consul General in Rio had been ordered to inquire into the matter. He added that the issue would also be taken up with the Heads of Missions of Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Japan.

    Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Germany had met and briefed authorities in Hamburg where a hotel named “Buddha’s Kitchen” was found to be in operation.

    The tourist hotel which also maintains a website http://www.buddhas-kitchen.de is situated near the train station in Hamburg, a suburb of Germany and depicts the head of Lord Buddha on its vehicles and in the interior of the hotel.

    This portrayal of Lord Buddha which often serves as the means of identifying the religious leader is deemed unethical by religious groups.

    The matter came to light when several Sri Lankan Professors from Moratuwa University who were participating in a workshop on recycling came across this hotel and brought it to the attention of the authorities.

  2. #2
    You should have a radio show.

    G,W

  3. #3
    I have a small Buddha figurine made of gold translucent polymer. My 11-month old daughter sometimes sucks on its head. Buddha doesn't seem to give a damn. If I take it away she cries, which might be ironic. So, mostly I just let her get spit all over it.

  4. #4
    LOL... ripe with irony, Chris

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris H
    I have a small Buddha figurine made of gold translucent polymer. My 11-month old daughter sometimes sucks on its head. Buddha doesn't seem to give a damn. If I take it away she cries, which might be ironic. So, mostly I just let her get spit all over it.
    LOL!!!

    This reminded me of the book "Rude Awakenings" by Ajahn Sucitto and Nick Scott. They travel to India and make an on-foot pilgrimage to all the holy Buddhist sites. They lug many cherished offerings all the way from England with them which they intend to place in the most holy of temples: Maha Bodhi in Bodh Gaya. Ah, well...they are robbed along the way. Every last thing taken from them: their passports, money, beggin bowls, and, of course, all their precious offerings.

    They arrive at the temple empty handed, literally. But in the end the realization is that all those offerings, all our incense, all our statues, all our bells and whistles really exist and have meaning to us. God/The Eternal/whateveryouwanttocallIt has no need of any of those "things." The only offering we are ever really asked to show up with is our Pure Heart, our True Intention.

    It is true that they are great teaching aids in mindfulness, and excellent reminders of why it is We Do What We Do. But, in the end, they are only ornamentations of time, subject to birth and decay, impermanence and change.

    So, your daughter, Chris, is a great teacher in this very lesson!

    In Gassho~

    Lynn

  6. #6
    Hello Lynn,
    Great post, I think you really put it well. I always figured Buddha would find all the idolatry of him troubling. If he came to my house I think I'd stash the statuette (lovingly wrapped in a towel in my dresser drawer).

    Rude Awakenings sounds like a great book. I'd never heard of it. I'll definitely check it out.

    Gassho,
    Chris

  7. #7

    Re:

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris H
    Hello Lynn,
    Great post, I think you really put it well. I always figured Buddha would find all the idolatry of him troubling. If he came to my house I think I'd stash the statuette (lovingly wrapped in a towel in my dresser drawer).

    Rude Awakenings sounds like a great book. I'd never heard of it. I'll definitely check it out.

    Gassho,
    Chris
    Hey,

    As a personal Practice, often when I lead a ceremony or sitting for a group, I replace the Buddha statue on the altar with whatever comes to mind ... sometimes a car tire, a dirty diaper, a trash can, a flower, a rock. Other times, I just bow to the stature that is there. Once, after the war started, I replaced the statue with 3 photos ... Mother Theresa, George Bush and Osama bin Laden. That really upset some folks in the group.

    But, you know, what isn't the Buddha? And for me, if you think I degradate the Buddha by replacing him(her) with a trash can, or that I raise up the trash can in praise, you miss the point I think.

    Keith helped me give a talk on the subject once last year ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2007/05 ... gi-iv.html

    Gassho, Jundo

  8. #8

    Re: Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival

    Mind is the Buddha, Buddha is the mind.

  9. #9

    Re: Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival

    I've lost count on the number of times the cats or kids have knocked poor Buddha or Kannon off the altar. The glue is drying on the latter as we speak.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Martin's Avatar
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    Re: Irreverent use of Buddhist symbols at Rio Carnival

    The fact that Buddhists don't (on the whole)! seem to rush around taking offence, let alone issuing fatwas, every time someone is "disrespecetful" to a piece of wood or plastic shaped in the supposed image of the Buddha was actually one of the things that first drew me to Buddhism.

    Gassho

    Martin

  11. #11

    Re:

    Hi Lynn,

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynn
    But in the end the realization is that all those offerings, all our incense, all our statues, all our bells and whistles really exist and have meaning to us. God/The Eternal/whateveryouwanttocallIt has no need of any of those "things." The only offering we are ever really asked to show up with is our Pure Heart, our True Intention.
    Very well said. Thank you.

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