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I have come across multiple instances where famous people or mainstream media have treated Buddhism and its culture in a derogatory manner, though I like to think most of the time it was because they are ignorant and not deliberate. This is not limited to famous ones of course. I will note 2 popular examples here.

The first one: SNL or Saturday Night Live (an American weekly television show) did an episode titled Rude Buddha, which was about the rude mentality of Lord Buddha. It consisted of a famous celebrity acting as Lord Buddha and being condescending and rude towards his followers, including sexual innuendos. Now, it's obviously a humorous dig at Lord Buddha's life. And I am not going to deny, I found it quite hilarious.

There's another example where the famous Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo uploaded a photo to his Instagram where he seems to have one foot resting on the base of a statue of Buddha's head. Fans were outraged and the photo was met with severe criticism. However, despite the incident being as old as from 2016, the photo still can be seen in his Instagram. It seems like the sentiment of Buddhists is not taken seriously enough for this photo to be removed. While I found the SNL episode funny, I do not view this in the same sense. He could have obviously taken it down considering how insensitive it is to Buddhists as a whole.

I believe no religion should be excluded from criticism. It enables people to engage in intellectual discourse on religions. However some incidents lean more towards mockery. Most of the comments in the SNL video (it's available on YouTube and I have provided the link above) are about how most Buddhists would find this funny and move on. However, I always wonder, to what extent should we tolerate these?

My moral dilemma is, how far can we be okay with our religion being mocked or treated insignificantly?
Do we always have to give the benefit of ignorance when someone disrespects Buddhism and its culture?
And how should a good Buddhist react to incidents like these?

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    In addition to the answers by Letsbuddhism and ruben2020, I also recommend to reflect on "The Simile of the Saw" discourse (dhammatalks.org/suttas/MN/MN21.html) and always remember that wise people would never consort or seek the approval of fools. Thus you should ask yourself: why are seeking the approval of fools? Why not seek the approval of the wise ones instead? – Danilo Jun 17 at 17:25
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    I’m voting to close this question because This question does not appear to be about Buddhist philosophy, teaching, and practice, within the scope defined in the help center. – Dhammadhatu Jun 17 at 20:33
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“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should not give way to resentment, displeasure, or animosity against them in your mind. For if you were to become angry or upset in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If you were to become angry or upset when others speak in dispraise of us, would you be able to recognize whether their statements are rightly or wrongly spoken?”

“Certainly not, Lord.”

“If, bhikkhus, others speak in dispraise of me, or in dispraise of the Dhamma, or in dispraise of the Sangha, you should unravel what is false and point it out as false, saying: ‘For such and such a reason this is false, this is untrue, there is no such thing in us, this is not found among us.’

“And if, bhikkhus, others speak in praise of me, or in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Sangha, you should not give way to jubilation, joy, and exultation in your heart. For if you were to become jubilant, joyful, and exultant in such a situation, you would only be creating an obstacle for yourselves. If others speak in praise of me, or in praise of the Dhamma, or in praise of the Sangha, you should acknowledge what is fact as fact, saying: ‘For such and such a reason this is a fact, this is true, there is such a thing in us, this is found among us.’
DN 1

If you think you can & feel moved to help others as if they are sick with ignorance then give the medicine but don't get angry or annoyed with symptoms of the disease and don't punish a person for being sick, nobody wants to be ignorant in the grand scheme of things.

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    I know nearly nothing about buddhism (saw this question on HNQ), but this is a beautiful quote. Every religion should have a view like this, in my opinion. Is this an "official" quote? Or is it part of an interpretation of the "official" (whatever that means for buddhism) sources by a follower? – Syndic Jun 18 at 7:59
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    this is included in the oldest know text collection, pali to english translation of what is agreed upon as actually spoken by the Buddha & canonical to all historically relevant schools of Buddhism as affirmed by academic buddhist studies. Held to have been orally transmitted until around 1st century and then also written down, has parallels in chinese and other languages among the earliest texts of this kind. – Letsbuddhism Jun 18 at 9:51
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    Wonderful quotes. Thank you for sharing these. – zero Jun 20 at 13:04
  • Like @Syndic, I know nearly nothing about Buddhism (or Christianity for that matter), but I'm struck by the similarity between the quoted text in this answer, and the Christian doctrine of "turning the other cheek".. – Seamus Jun 20 at 23:44
  • This is a very good answer about praise/blame from outsiders and not to react with anger or resentment. In general, any response should be governed by Right Speech, which requires good timing and beneficial intentions. One example is in debate with Saccaka (accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.035.than.html). Schisms within Buddhism were treated differently. Devadatta's actions did rise to the level of needing action (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devadatta). Although there was admonishment, it wasn't done with resentment or anger. – chongman Jun 26 at 0:36
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The Buddha taught:

  1. Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one's own acts, done and undone.

  2. Like a beautiful flower full of color but without fragrance, even so, fruitless are the fair words of one who does not practice them.

Dhp 44-59

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Story told by Ven. Ajahn Brahm, from this page, on how to respond to abuse, such as the destruction of Buddhist scriptures and statues:

There were riots in the streets some years ago after a guard at Guantanamo Bay was accused of taking a holy book and flushing it down the toilet.

The next day, I took a call from a local journalist who told me he was writing an article about the outrage by asking leaders of all the major religions in Australia the same question he was about to ask me.

“What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down your toilet?”

Without hesitation I answered, “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist holy book and flushed it down my toilet, the first thing I would do is call a plumber!”

When the journalist finished laughing, he confided that that was the first sensible answer he had received.

Then I went further.

I explained that someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn down Buddhist temples, or kill Buddhist monks and nuns; they may destroy all this, but I will never allow them to destroy Buddhism. You may flush a holy book down the toilet, but I will never let you flush forgiveness, peace, and compassion down the toilet.

The book is not the religion. Nor is the statue, the building, or the priest. These are only the “containers.”

What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent?

The Buddha himself was never disturbed by abusive speech hurled at him and taught that if abuse is not accepted and reacted to, then it stays with the abuser. The Buddha taught us to respond calmly and not be provoked into anger.

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."

"The king together with his court know this of Master Gotama — 'Gotama the contemplative is an arahant' — and yet still Master Gotama gets angry."

The Buddha:

Whence is there anger for one free from anger, tamed, living in tune — one released through right knowing, calmed & Such.

You make things worse when you flare up at someone who's angry. Whoever doesn't flare up at someone who's angry wins a battle hard to win.

You live for the good of both — your own, the other's — when, knowing the other's provoked, you mindfully grow calm.

When you work the cure of both — your own, the other's — those who think you a fool know nothing of Dhamma.

When this was said, the brahman Akkosaka Bharadvaja said to the Blessed One, "Magnificent, Master Gotama! Magnificent! Just as if he were to place upright what was overturned, to reveal what was hidden, to show the way to one who was lost, or to carry a lamp into the dark so that those with eyes could see forms, in the same way has Master Gotama — through many lines of reasoning — made the Dhamma clear.
SN 7.2

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Let's not forget that within Buddhism there is a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor and the occasional irreverence for depictions of the Buddha:

Tianran Roasting the Buddha, painting by Sengai Gibbon (1750-1837)

Tianran Roasting the Buddha, painting by Sengai Gibbon (1750-1837)

Danxia Tianran (739-824), a famous disciple of 8th-century Chan masters Mazu and Shitou, was spending a night at a ruined temple with a few traveling companions. It was fiercely cold and no firewood was to be found. Danxia went to the Buddha-shrine hall, took down the sacred wooden image of the Buddha, and set it ablaze to warm himself. Reproached by his friends for this act of sacrilege, he said: “I was only looking for the sharira (sacred relic) of the Buddha.” “How can you expect to find sharira in a piece of wood?” asked his fellow travelers. Replied Danxia, “Ah, well then, I am only burning a piece of wood after all. Shall we burn a few more?”

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