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I found a video about Leshan Giant Buddha and was watching it with my family. In that video some workers were cleaning the statue's head while walking on it (it is a giant statue) - and my family members were surprised that people walked on Buddha's head, because to them that looked disrespectful. I replied that it's not a real problem, because Buddha does not have attachment to respect and would not feel insulted. Was I wrong or is this correct? The Buddha would never cling to such concepts like respect and feel insulted, right?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Andrei Volkov Feb 3 at 8:32

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  • He's dead so I can't really see how he could be insulted – Arturia Feb 3 at 5:58
  • Canonically after he became enlightened he refused to participate in insults -- here is a good sutta about that, and about anger too. Also, canonically, whether the Buddha is alive or dead is unanswerable -- e.g. the body dies yet the body is not the Buddha. People often associate the Buddha with the Dhamma, saying that the Dhamma is the Buddha's Dhamma-body. – ChrisW Feb 3 at 7:27
  • @ChrisW I thought it was an unanswerable question because such questions made no sense. The Buddha said that there was no Tathagata, because that name was just an useful conventional label. The Buddha (a being) is therefore just a conventional figure of speech, and we cannot said that it is alive or dead. – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 3 at 8:04
  • @BrianDíazFlores In this sutta someone makes an assertion and the Buddha denies having declared that because the thought that the Buddha exists and/or doesn't exist after death would only occur to someone who is fond of the "aggregates" and doesn't see their cessation; ditto "becoming", etc. In this sutta the reason for asserting is assuming aggregates to be the self. I like this one. – ChrisW Feb 3 at 8:19
  • @ChrisW Thanks for those suttas! I was thinking of accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn44/sn44.001.than.html and accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn23/sn23.002.than.html . (Sorry for those long links, but I don't know how to create an hyperlink in SE). – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 3 at 8:35
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We have giant Buddha statues in Sri Lanka too. But nobody walks on the head to clean them. There are respectful ways to do it if you are smart enough.

I have heard this ridiculous argument many times - "The Buddha wouldn't get upset. Therefore it is ok." The Buddha didn't get upset even when Devadata tried to drop a rock on him. The Buddha didn't get upset when Cinca Manavika falsely accused him of making her pregnant. That doesn't mean such actions are not wrong and not bad Karma.

The Buddha will never get upset whatever you do. That is not the point. The point is if your actions are disrespectful, it is bad Karma for you. It's important to keep in mind that being disrespectful does not require the other person to become upset.

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    How is it disrespectful if were talking about cleaning a statue? What if the intentions are pure? What if walking over the head is the easiest and fastest way to keep that part clean? Is it not attachment to form if we keep such levels of emotional attachment to a symbol, whatever that symbol represents? – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 3 at 7:58
  • @BrianDíazFlores Thanks for attention , Our intention is not to insult but cleaning. So I also asked if he hadn't cling to such feelings. – Swapnil Feb 3 at 12:10
  • @BrianDíazFlores So he didn't got insulted even when he was alive, so what about after death. Are you saying that? – Swapnil Feb 3 at 12:19
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    @Swapnil Hi! I'm pretty sure your intention is not to insult or disrespect the Buddha. Also, we're not talking about the Buddha, but about a statue. If you see my reply to ChrisW's comment, you'll see that even when the Buddha was alive the concept "Buddha" was just a conventional one (as someone said, "there is not enlightened people, only enlightened behavior"). So, it does not follow that we could talk about the Buddha's destiny after death, because it doesn't make sense. But, to be clear, I don't think someone could be angry after death ("when death is, I am not; when I am, death is not"). – Brian Díaz Flores Feb 3 at 12:45
  • @BrianDíazFlores Thanks now I got exactly what you mean by death. Thanks a lot. – Swapnil Feb 3 at 12:51
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The answer comes in the Akkosa Sutta below. Even if someone insults him or speaks to him in a hurtful manner, he doesn't accept it i.e. react to it. And so it goes back to the originator.

However in the case of the Giant Buddha Statue, perhaps they have no choice but to walk on its head in order to clean it. The Buddha statue is not the Buddha himself. It's only a symbolic representation.

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Rajagaha in the Bamboo Grove, the Squirrels' Sanctuary. Then the brahman Akkosaka Bharadvaja heard that a brahman of the Bharadvaja clan had gone forth from the home life into homelessness in the presence of the Blessed One. Angered & displeased, he went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, insulted & cursed him with rude, harsh words.

When this was said, the Blessed One said to him: "What do you think, brahman: Do friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to you as guests?"

"Yes, Master Gotama, sometimes friends & colleagues, relatives & kinsmen come to me as guests."

"And what do you think: Do you serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies?"

"Yes, sometimes I serve them with staple & non-staple foods & delicacies."

"And if they don't accept them, to whom do those foods belong?"

"If they don't accept them, Master Gotama, those foods are all mine."

"In the same way, brahman, that with which you have insulted me, who is not insulting; that with which you have taunted me, who is not taunting; that with which you have berated me, who is not berating: that I don't accept from you. It's all yours, brahman. It's all yours.

"Whoever returns insult to one who is insulting, returns taunts to one who is taunting, returns a berating to one who is berating, is said to be eating together, sharing company, with that person. But I am neither eating together nor sharing your company, brahman. It's all yours. It's all yours."

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Agree with what you said. They are only statues and not attached to Buddha. Actually, his teaching is about having the wisdom to understand this idea. No one can insult you as long as you have the ability to stay calm and not getting attached to the feeling of insult. Same with Buddha...

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This is not disrespecting Buddha. As people who have quoted above in their replies are Buddhist teachings by Buddha himself.

It is the intention that matters. 🙏🏽

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