Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Buddha Six-Pack

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:41 am

“How much for this one, with his hands in the air?”
“That’s three dollars. If you buy the set, it’s ten dollars.”
“How many are in the set?”
“Six Buddhas.”
“I’ll buy the set.”

Mike gave the young man a ten dollar bill. The day is good. We got six Buddhas for ten dollars. That’s $1.66 a Buddha. Enlightenment for a buck sixty-six.

If only it was that easy. Spend three dollars, get enlightened. Spend ten dollars and get even more enlightened. If only one could buy enlightenment or peace, for that matter. Instead, peace is free for all who are willing to follow the path of peace. Enlightenment is free for all who follow the path of enlightenment. If only we could buy it, it would be so much easier than following the path.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Bible, King James Version, Exodus 20:3

Instead of practicing my meditation as regularly as I should, I buy a little Buddha (six, actually) and hope peace and enlightenment will be mine. It’s idolatry, plain and simple. There is something to be said for symbols that can remind us of our duties and devotions, but it also makes us vulnerable. My little Buddha makes me vulnerable instead of strong.

I felt the stab of pain. It was the night of 9-11 and CNN reported that the people in the streets of Pakistan were celebrating our loss. I saw the faces of rejoicing men burning my flag. It felt like a rage within me welling up and it made my eyes fill with tears of anger. How could they rejoice at our pain?

Of course, my paranoia instantly kicked in. I don’t trust CNN. I always feel like Winston in George Orwell’s 1984. The person who controls the news controls the world. So they showed me some people rejoicing. That could be old footage for all I know. The pain and the rage subsided, but it was a vicious taste of the vulnerability of idolatry.

Here I am, looking at my Buddha with his hands turned up toward the sky. He reminds me to meditate. He reminds me to place my mind in a peaceful calm. If I continue to use him to remind me of these things, he will become a true idol to me. If I continue to do them on my own, I will have enlightenment without the benefits and vulnerability of idolatry. And I thought I was getting such a good deal.


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