The Thailand based Knowing Buddha organisation, which campaigns against the misuse of images of the Buddha and other Buddhist sacred objects, has started a campaign directed at a stool using the an image of the Buddha’s head. It is as they appear, a seat made from an image of the Buddha’s head.
They are widely available online and one of the product descriptions reads:
A quirky yet beautiful addition to our collection of stools comes this delightful Buddha stool. In the design of a Buddha head and finished in white, this Buddha is sure to add to brighten up your home, adding charm in abundance
Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume 4 (2): 2016
Part of a special edition on blasphemy and Buddhism with some excellent contributions.
Details are here.
‘There are many terms in the Pāli Canon that refer to “disrespect” committed against venerated objects or people. Some of these ideas come close to the idea of “blasphemy” in other religious traditions. In traditional forms of Buddhism, the stress is on protective and auspicious acts. Images, texts and chanting are partly concerned with averting danger. Primarily it is the Buddha (and images of him), because of his great meritorious and ethical deeds, who accomplishes this. In this context blasphemy against sacred objects is a perfectly coherent idea in Buddhism. In Myanmar, monks from the Ma Ba Tha movement have expressed outrage at what they perceived to be the manipulation of images of the Buddha. These will be compared to ideas in the Pāli Canon to suggest how the idea of blasphemy is a constant feature in the history of Buddhism.’
As reported in the Myanmar Times:
A Spanish tourist visiting Bagan with his wife over the weekend found his trip interrupted when police discovered a Buddha tattoo on his leg.
The tourist and his wife were escorted to Yangon on July 10, according to Mandalay Region police.
Shin Sandavaya from the Tharmakay monastery reported the case to the police station in Bagan after he spotted a Buddha image on the leg of visitor outside Kantotpalin Pagoda.
Religious authorities from the Nyaung-U office and immigration officers interviewed the 46-year-old tourist and confirmed that he has a Buddha tattoo on his calf that was inked in Spain. The two tourists were sent to Yangon the same day, and the embassy contacted, according to Mandalay police.
“They arrived in Yangon [yesterday] morning at 5am leaving Bagan by bus. The tourist police took them to the Spanish embassy around 5:30am,” said an officer from the Mingaladon township station.
AFP quoted a police officer saying that the man will be deported to Bangkok. The Myanmar Times was unable to independently confirm deportation plans.
As is being widely reported the English football team Leicester City look likely, against all the odds, to win the Premier League title this year. After struggling on the pitch for several years they were never considered contenders for the title at the beginning of the season. In fact, they were many people’s favourites to be relegated.
In the search for their turnaround of fortunes many have suggested the influence of Buddhism on the success of the team. Leicester City have Thai owners and Thai Buddhist monks have been regular visitors to the teams King Power Stadium ground. During these visits the monks have regularly performed Buddhist blessings and purifications.
After their poor season the club’s owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, had the idea that their lack of success was due to a lack of ‘merit’ (an idea closely related to karma). By actively supporting the ordination of Buddhist monks and the building of Buddhist temples it was intended that Leicester City’s levels of merit would increase. With an increase of merit, generated primarily by performing Buddhist offerings and benevolent actions, good fortune would occur. The rituals at the club’s ground were intended to be auspicious and maintain the benefits of merit. Finally, certain powerful Buddhist objects were used in the form of amulets, believed to have a powerful and beneficial influence.
Clearly, the terrible season suffered by Chelsea is down to a lack of religious merit accrued at Stamford Bridge.
A report on Sayadaw U Ottamasa’s meditation centre on the outskirts of Yangon has appeared in Frontline Myanmar.
It’s a well written article by Kyaw Phone Kyaw titled ‘A Sayadaw’s Sanctuary for the Needy’. A brief biography of the Sayadaw is available on Dhamma Web with more details available here. As an example of engaged Buddhism in Myanmar the Sayadaw’s activies have become very popular.
As Kyaw reports:
There is nothing unusual about a monk establishing a meditation centre in Myanmar and they can be found throughout the country, but the Thabarwa Center, established by the Venerable Sayadaw U Ottamasara in 2008 when he was aged 39, is very unusual indeed.
The centre, in Yangon’s outer southeastern Thanlyin Township, is a refuge for hundreds of needy people who are encouraged to meditate, as well as being a retreat for yogis, as lay meditators are known in Myanmar.
Membership of the centre is open to anyone and hosts many residents, many of whom have no home to call their own and will live there for the rest of their lives. Their food, health care and accommodation are provided free of charge.
The centre’s website contains more details.