Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.

Buddhism Teaching Resources

Buddhism Teaching Resources

Teach about Buddhism with a little help from Edinburgh Buddhist Studies

Supermarket Buddhas

Buddhism through 108 objects in Scotland: Object 2 – Buddha statues for sale in Edinburgh supermarket

The vast majority of Buddhist images in Scotland are purely decorative, such as these Buddha statues for sale in my local supermarket. A Buddha image is bought, alongside a gnome, as an ornament for one’s garden, home or business. Associations with peace and calm, brought about most clearly by the pose of meditation, combine with a feeling of exotican image showing a supermarket shelf of buddha statues and garden gnomesism, to make such images appealing.

Yet many westerners are unaware that using Buddha statues for decoration can be deeply offensive to some Buddhists. In particular, treating the Buddha’s image with disrespect, or using it in inappropriate settings, such as bars, can be considered problematic.

This raises all sorts of interesting questions: Who gets to decide when an image is special, and how it should be used? What is it that makes the Buddha image so easily adopted in the west? What does an image of the Buddha mean to non-Buddhists? Should there be rules about the use of religious imagery?

Why not have a discussion with your class about these issues? This website, explains what is and is not appropriate in the use of Buddha images, from the perspective of a particular Thai movement. The internet is awash with examples of Buddha-images in a range of unlikely settings. So you have all the raw materials for a lively discussion, in which pupils can practice respectful debate.


Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.