Cristiano Ronaldo caused an international stir a couple of years ago, when he posted a picture of himself outside his Madrid home posing with his foot next to a Buddha head. Although to many, this seemed like an innocent pose, many Buddhist fans responded angrily.
“Hey dude but its basic knowledge that you cannot put your foot on a religious statue,” one follower wrote.
“This is not cool at all man. I know ur not Buddhist but plz respect for other religions,” added one disappointed fan.
In Ronaldo’s defense, the Knowing Buddha Organization of Thailand, says “these kinds of incidents happen all the time, not because individuals mean to intentionally disrespect Buddha’s image, but due to a lack of understanding what Buddha’s image represents. Buddha’s image has been so commercialized in the past few decades, that most people have forgotten that Buddhism is a religion and Buddha’s image belongs in a temple, not as decoration in Hotels, Bars, Spa’s or people’s homes.” says the KBO Foundation.
To help educate the world on the right way to treat the Buddha, The Knowing Buddha Organization, organized a march yesterday at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand.
” Stop selling and buying the image of Buddha and using it as decoration” exclaimed the marchers.
Shoppers stopped to read signs and listen to KBO speakers explaining why is WRONG to use Buddha’s image for decoration in homes, gardens, hotels, bars, restaurants or spas.
“We had no idea that buying or using Buddha’s image was offensive to Buddhists or disrespectful to the Buddha” said many foreigners visiting the market.
Market vendors who’s shelves were filled with statues and other images of Buddhas for sale as decoration, hid in their shops, as nearly 1000 marchers passed by their stores. “The atmosphere was like a bright light shining through the market exposing the wrong and protecting our hero the Buddha” said Patt Pattana a spokesperson for the Knowing Buddha Organization. Thai as well ast the Thai vendors are mostly Buddhists, and they know they are doing wrong by selling Buddha’s statues and images as art to unsuspecting tourists . Today we could see the shame in their faces. Also those in charge of the market felt sorry that Buddha was so widely merchandised” continued Pattana.
Earlier in the day the Knowing Buddha Organization was invited to speak at Wat Arun Temple (the Temple of Dawn), to international television about the massive merchandising of Buddha around the world.
“As the world is being educated and reminded that Buddhism is a religion and the image of Buddha is not just a piece of art that should be used to bring calm to our homes or a business” said Sangduen.
The abbot of Wat Arun praised the Knowing Buddha Organization for it’s work with his temple and others around Thailand to educate tourists about proper attire and attitudes when visiting temples. The abbot bemoaned how in the past visitors would arrive in shorts and tank tops and some women even posed shirtless in front of Buddha statues.
“The Knowing Buddha Organization helped to change all this through signs and brochures teaching tourists how to behave and treat Buddha” according to Pat Pattana, ” it is all about education and teaching the world about this issue through kindness and compassion. We find that most foreigners had no idea that they were doing something wrong by decorating with the image of Buddha. And once we explain to them that this is wrong and bad karma, people are more than willing to fix their mistakes”. Said Pattana.
The Knowing Buddha Organization founded by Vipassana Meditation Master Acharavadee Wongsakon. Acharavadee who had visited the Buddha Bar in Paris a decade earlier, was devastated that the Buddha Bar had replicated a Thai temple and installed a dance floor and Bar hijacking the Buddhist religion in order to make money. Acharavadee returned to Thailand where set up an organization to educate the world about respect and morality and the proper use of Buddha for worship.
The Knowing Buddha Organization website explains the do’s and don’ts of using Buddha’s Images. The Organization can also be contacted to help individuals and commercial organizations learn how properly remove Buddha art from their homes or commercial venues.
“We have worked with many high profile companies around the world to resolve their misuse of Buddha’s image” said Sangduen. The overwhelming majority of cases happen innocently as artists and consumers with good intention, used the Buddha’s image as it represents peace and calm.
“However once they learned that this is wrong to use Buddha’s images for anything other than worship, these people really wanted to correct their mistakes” explained Pattana. One such a case was a resort in Bali which had large murals of Buddha carved in stone. The KBO organization showed the owners how to re-carve the murals into angel heads. Other cases learned how to properly and respectfully dispose of unwanted Buddha decoration.
“Respect is Common Sense” is the motto of the Knowing Buddha Organization. The Knowing Buddha Organization hopes to knock at the hearts of people around the world to wake their morality and not disrespect Buddha by using his image as decoration.