Protest Against Thai Buddha Emoticons


Although not usually thought to be part of Buddhist culture the notion of blasphemy in Buddhism is one that needs more attention. In recent years there has been various examples of this phenomenon, from swimsuits with images of the Buddha, to tattoos considered blasphemous in Burma and Sri Lanka and protests against perceived disrespect to the so-called ‘Buddhist flag‘.

The above image is from an online campaign against the Thai instant messaging app Line Thailand. The company which operates the app has been forced to remove a range of ‘stickers’ promoting the service. Emoticons depicting the Buddha in what were claimed to be ‘inappropriate’ poses, as seen in the image above, were used to promote the app. The emoticons were available to download for a small fee.

Led by the World Fellowship of Buddhist Youth, a petition was started on and was supported by 40 Buddhist groups around the world.



6 thoughts on “Protest Against Thai Buddha Emoticons

  1. Yep. There clearly is a notion akin to blasphemy in modern Buddhism. As you say it comes up time and again in practice, despite what the scriptures say. It would make interesting reading if you could capture the thoughts behind the objections and how people reconcile the concerted aversion they demonstrate with Basic Buddhism.

    And people say that Buddhism is not a religion? [shakes head]

    • Completely agree Jayarava – at some point I’d like to explore whether it is only a modern phenomenon as I suspect that it might also be prevalent in the older tradition.

      And yes, of course Buddhism is a religion, and the reasons for describing it otherwise are very spurious and often proposed with hidden and misleading agendas.

  2. It may be true that “Buddhism” is a religion that takes on many forms and rituals across the globe. However, the Buddha didn’t teach “Buddhism,” as we all know. He taught his Dhamma, with which many religious Buddhists are not very familiar. The emoticons are really less blasphemous and more in poor taste. If we put any stock in these early teachings, we have respect for the man that became enlightened and taught his Dhamma to those that were willing to hear it. For that, he deserves some measure of respect, and it’s not inappropriate to criticize the use of the Buddha image to sell beer or bikinis.

  3. Pingback: Modern Koans - Why Right Speech? - Andrew Furst

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