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 exoticism, 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 knowingbuddha.org/dos-and-donts, 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.