even if there’s no buddha statue in the room…

…there’s always a buddha statue in the room.

This I was heard to have said.

In a discussion late one evening about the aversion we have to religion icons and rituals, I made this comment as a parry to the arguments around the ridiculous ends we go to when we feel the need to deny the obvious.  I did however have to agree that Zen is particularly rife with these doubly-negating aphorisms.  In this case, it went something like this: The buddha statue in the room is not really a Buddha statue; it’s simply a mirror of all your assumptions and preconceptions of what it means to have a buddha statue in the room.

Now, I’ve drunk enough of the Kool-Aid that, in my sugar-addled stupor, I often believe this.  And I can, in my more sober moments, feel the embarrassment of the nonsensical statement – not to mention the bad grammar and syntax!  But it’s really not about the statue in the room as much as it is about our relationship to a pattern of thinking and a treasured set of schema.  So, I’ve taken a different tack to the problem of the ever-present buddha statue in the room.

There’s a statue in room.
It’s of the Buddha.

You may not like it for your own reasons.
If those reasons are important to you, you may want to find another room.

You may like it for your own reasons.
If those reasons are important to you, you may want to stay in the room.

Either way, there’s something you’re practicing.

You may not like that practice for your own reasons.
If those reasons are important to you, you may want to find another practice.

You may like that practice for your own reasons.
If those reasons are important to you, you may want to stay with the practice. 

Either way, this is something.

In your room.

4 thoughts on “even if there’s no buddha statue in the room…

  1. The Dalai Lama once said that Buddha statues are empty. He’s right. They’re also sort of against the Buddha’s wishes since he told his disciples not venerate his relics or image. My next-door neighbor is not a Buddhist, but she has a wooden Buddha statue that’s at least six feet tall. It’s really cool.

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