This place matters

This place matters

Monday, July 5, 2010

Care to pet my peeve?

I am not a Buddhist. I am far too fond of violence for that. Nor am I a scholar of Buddhism. But I do know this:
Buddhists do not worship the Buddha. They don't worship the Buddha, because the Buddha is not a deity. Buddhists do not pray to Buddha, and Buddha does not intercede on their behalf. In fact buddha doesn't refer to an individual, the term means "enlightened one." There have been many Buddhas,  but when Buddhists speak of the Buddha, they speak of Siddhartha Gautama, a teacher who lived in India before the time of Christ. He is said to have achieved enlightenment, and spent his life teaching others; his teachings were the foundation for Buddhism.
It's a pet peeve of mine partially because people who should know the difference don't (I've seen a number of movies, some recent, in which Buddhists refer to Buddha as god). Fundamentalists accuse Buddhists of worshiping false idols, which is funny in that Buddhists specifically strive to detach from worldly things; they even have a koan that goes "If you meet the Buddha, kill him." That's an allegory, of course; a Buddhist once explained to me that the saying means that you should be detached from what you think enlightenment should be, that you should never see someone else's spiritual path as your own, or something like that. As I understand it, Buddhism strives to end attachments to the things of this life - thus is less prone to idolatry than most other faiths. On paper anyway.
Also, the statue of a Buddha who is all fat and jolly is not the Buddha. He's a monk from I think the 10th century who gave children candy and stands for prosperity. 
Right then. Carry on.


Cap'n Ergo "XL+1" Jinglebollocks said...

Should you be @ all interested in further reading, I have a suggestion.

Actually, The Buddha had a saying in Sanscrit that translates to "come here and see for yourself," which is sort of the Big Idea.

And, no, the fat n' jolly buddha is not THE Buddha (Siddhartha), but he is nonetheless A buddha (a Bodhisattva, which I fear I already somewhat resemble only in physical appearance...)

Anonymous said...

Many people could benefit from a basic World Religions class like the one I just finished. I thought it was going to be torture, but I enjoyed it a lot. Even visited a mosque and got a tour and teachings from a wonderful muslim woman. I understand where other religions are coming from now.