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I learned that the monks of a monastery draw and consecrate or bless sacred images and then resell them.
Is all this permitted by the law of dharma?
Don't we fall into materialism by commodifying the things of the spirit?
I wonder the same thing about other objects, statues, malas, etc...

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Good question.

The Vinaya Pitaka (Code of Ethics/Conduct for Buddhist bhikkhus/monks and bhikkhunis/nuns) clearly state that the ordained and novices cannot deal with money. They are not allowed to handle money, leave alone sell stuff in exchange of money.

If monks in a monastery are making goods and selling them, then is there a particular reason why they are doing so? Is the Abbott of the monastery allowing this for a purpose and for what duration of time?

In one of the Suttas, Buddha had mentioned that in the future, there will be monks in saffron and yellow who will not follow the teaching as mentioned by the Tathagata, who will have large followings and indulge in non-Dharma activities. Buddha also predicted that Buddhism would decline and disappear in 5000 years. We have crossed 2600 years since the inception of Buddhism, and we can already see a steep decline.

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  • I understand, but what about the lay people who create these works, blessing them and then selling them? Is all this acceptable from an ethical/spiritual point of view according to Buddhism? Dec 4, 2023 at 17:21
  • I just studied about the Tibetan Ten Sciences. One of the Major Sciences is the Science of Fine Arts and Crafts, which allows monks and laypeople to create, build, or manufacture things to facilitate people in their daily tasks or to provide people with service to make their (people's) lives easier. There is a long list of things that a Buddhist can create, build, or manufacture, both on the Dharma and about worldly things. Few among them are building idols, stupas, and monasteries, painting the faces of idols; building houses; farming; trading and commerce, and so forth.
    – Manjusri
    Dec 12, 2023 at 15:49
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I don't think problem is with people who are selling such commodities problem is with those purchasing it.

"Demand is the driver of economic activity; it is the spark that ignites the engine of the market, setting in motion the forces of production and exchange." - John Maynard Keynes

Merchants are simply doing there duty.

The people who demand such commodities are same people who are responsible for fall of all the Great Masters. I don't find even a single suttra in Pali Canon in which Buddha declared himself any kind of God or Supernatural Entity. There is no point in worshipping Buddha, this will be greatest disrespect to Teachings of Tathagata. Selling Idols or using Dharma for personal gain is similar to destroying it,but it's the reality of society we live in, all the Knowledge from east is getting converted into commodities and sold in west. Yoga, Advait Vedanta or Zen are all getting converted into business.

This is excerpt from talk of Acharya Rajneesh (though I don't really agree with his way but I find his teachings worthy of respect).

The buddha is the most dangerous person in the world. That is why the world either kills the buddhas or worships them. These are synonymous: killing is a way of getting rid of them; worshipping is also a way of getting rid of them. When you worship a buddha, you are saying, "You are born a buddha, we are poor human beings. At the most we can put two flowers at your feet. Just leave us alone, we have so many other things to do." This is also a very cultured way of creating distance. That is why in every culture, either they have killed such people or they have said that they are incarnations of God. "It is easy for them. We are human beings, with all kinds of frailties, weaknesses; we cannot do it." Just to create a distance, so many stories have been created. And I have been wondering continually why no psychologist has the guts to go into those stories and expose what is hidden behind them. For example, Gautam Buddha was born when his mother was standing under a tree.Now, no woman has ever given birth to a child standing. Perhaps this was some accident, a kind of abortion. But the story is that Buddha was also born standing. As he came out of the womb, he stood on the earth, and the first thing he did was to take seven steps a newborn baby taking seven steps and then declaring, "I am the greatest buddha in the world."Now, the people who were creating these stories were trying to create a distance between themselves and these awakened people. They were not ready to accept them being as human as they are because then a great responsibility arises. If a human being can become a buddha, then what are you doing? Then it will be a great weight on the chest, it is better to put these buddhas as far away as possible. If you go to a Jaina temple you will see a strange thing; there are twenty-four Jaina tirthankaras, Jaina gods. All their ears are so big, the earlobes so long, that they are touching their shoulders. That is one of the signs that a man is a tirthankara. You cannot find anybody who has such long lobes unless he goes through plastic surgery or some kind of massage continuously milking a cow. like But why does this kind of thing happen? - just to make them different from you.

Buddha's message was most clear and scientific of all contemporaries or old ones.

There's one more aspect to His Dharma that is Rebellion. Buddha was not alone, the whole movement was there in India against the orthodox school of thought. Orthodox religion of that time in India - Vedic Tradition was degenerated and such things like using Dharma for exploiting others was prevalent. The Shramana movement revolutionised the prospects of the social and religious dimensions of ancient India in such a way that even after many centuries these traditions continue to attract humanity across many countries.

Shramana traditions in ancient India were brought about by the ascetics who renounced worldly life to search for the truth about life and the universe. They included many groups, sects and varieties of opinions. The most famous among them were the Buddhists, the Jains, the materialist Lokayatas and groups like the Ajivikas.

In the Brahmanical order the Brahmins were privileged as intermediaries between deities and followers, and were considered the protectors of the sacred learning found in the Vedas. The Shramanas rejected the authority of the Brahmins and opposed the ritualistic orthodox ideas of the Brahmanas.

All the Shramanas sects denied the supremacy of philosophies of Vedic texts. Some of them like Budhha and Mahavira got enlightenment through meditation and after realising truth propagated the right way of life to their followers.

In conclusion the foundation of Buddhism was not enlightenment or such fancy stuff; It was a Rebellion against the orthodox religion which had flaws just like "monks of a monastery drawing and consecrating or blessing sacred images and then reselling them". This is no way should be acceptable by any one who has lived teachings of The Blessed One.

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