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Let’s Go Clubbing with the Buddha

This picture frustrates me over and over again. It’ disrespectful, insensitive, and offensive.

My friend tells me that I’m overreacting and taking it too seriously.

But would they say the same if a Christian person complained about their religion taken out of it’s context and being used for commercial purposes?

Why, for some reason, do some religions in America seem to carry more legitimacy, treated with more respect and sensitivity, over other religions in America?

Can you imagine a scenario in which Las Vegas opened a new nightclub called “Trinity” that themed all it’s decorations and advertising material around Jesus and other Christian icons? Would Christians (and Americans in general) find that disrespectful and offensive? Would their feelings be treated as melodramatic and inappropriate?

Religious nightlife indeed.

I find that this doesn’t only happen with Christians or Americans. I went on a tour bus trip from Los Angeles to Yellowstone National Park. On our way back to Los Angeles, we stopped in Utah to visit their famous Mormon church. We had several tour guides who gave us a brief tour of the church and basics about the Mormon faith.

One of the tour guides was a girl from Korea who is spending about a year and a half studying and volunteering at the Mormon Church. She was younger than the other “Sisters” who helped lead the tour. Halfway though the tour, it became obvious that many of the men on our tour were intentionally trying to talk to the Korean tour guide or get a photograph with her. I heard men around me talkinabout how pretty she was, encouraging their friends to also take a photo with her. In comparison, the other two tour guides who were just standing to the side, apparently not interesting or attractive enough for the tourists to interact with.

I found this to be greatly disturbing – the idea that people were flirting with one of the religious representatives of the Mormon faith. Those men didn’t seem to care or see anything wrong with what they were doing. But would those men treat representatives from their own religion (monks, pastors, nuns, etc) in the same way?

How come we cannot follow one of the simplest pieces of advice taught to us as toddlers – to treat others the way we’d like to be treated?

  • http://twitter.com/freenezwandring Bill (@freenezwandring)

    Better yet: how about a hip, SF bondage club/literary society called “Crucifiction”?

    What can I say? You understand it. The Buddha is Asian (wasn’t he Chinese? Or Japanese?) and so you can expect that those people won’t push back. You can make all kinds of jokes about them in their presence and they’ll take it. I speak of course in the voice of US racism, which is precisely the one you identify here.

    Obviously, this is an awful process. You’re doing the right thing that you’re doing, raising the issue, calling it for what it is. I don’t know how effective it will be with the people who need to hear it, but some, slowly, will start to think a little more.

  • http://dharmafolk.wordpress.com Oz

    It’s not the first use of the Buddha’s image for commercial purposes, though it’s certainly one of the biggest I’ve seen. Case in point, among many other things you’ll find in a Chinese supermarket with the Buddha’s image, we have Jasmine Rice, http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_VKAtSAnv1yU/SuVEBCZp2hI/AAAAAAAAAQk/FyxA_UEQXuw/s400/ricehjasmine.JPG

  • http://wafflehouse.com grumpy

    I hear you. You want some more examples of bad Buddha commercialism? Don’t click if you gonna get upset ok?

    This is a nightclub:
    http://dharmacharlotte.com/

    Album called Buddha Bar- it’s a compilation of slower techno music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPCJTTwwlZA

    My christian pastor had a hissy fit because he saw some kid at the mall wearing a t-shirt that said “Jesus is my homeboy”. He said “Jesus is not your homeboy,, he is God Almighty! etc.” My pastor found this t-shirt offensive.

    The pastor was overreacting in my opinion, but ….
    I heard somewhere “don’t go through life looking for opportunities to be offended” -Wayne Dyer?

    Madonna Ciccone took a lot of Christian symbolism in offensive directions in her heyday in the 80’s. I remember some quote of hers “Wearing a crucifix is sexy because it has a naked man on it.”

    Forgive them father they know not what they do.

  • kavi

    It’s hard to not get frustrated by this sort of thing. It helps to keep in mind that a statue or image is just another thing to get attached to. The Buddha himself said not to make any images of him – these statues that are so iconic of Buddhism are ironically against the teaching of the Buddha!

  • Bert

    I can definitely understand your frustration, and it’s not right, but the answers are pretty simple. Unfortunately, I think your expectations of people are a bit too high.

    “Why, for some reason, do some religions in America seem to carry more legitimacy, treated with more respect and sensitivity, over other religions in America?”

    They are big enough and sensitive enough to create a meaningful backlash in the market place.

    “I found this to be greatly disturbing – the idea that people were flirting with one of the religious representatives of the Mormon faith. Those men didn’t seem to care or see anything wrong with what they were doing. But would those men treat representatives from their own religion (monks, pastors, nuns, etc) in the same way?”

    Anyone who has gone to an all male Catholic high school would know the answer to this is a resounding yes, definitely, absolutely. Without shame or hesitation.

  • http://sixtyandsingleagain.wordpress.com/ Chico

    We are all the buddha.

  • Torben

    I am thankful for the wonderful abundance of Buddhist images in the restaurant, in the café, in furniture afairs and so on. How great isn’t that, maybe one more person will look into what the Buddha said, even though the intention was commercial. I get inspired and respectful regardless the intention of the person who’s selling or merely decorating.

  • http://dominicgomez.wordpress.com dominicgomez

    Re: ‘Can you imagine a scenario in which Las Vegas opened a new nightclub called “Trinity” (?)’
    Seattle beat Sin City to the punch: http://www.trinitynightclub.com/trinity.html

  • thug4lyfe

    It is very disrespectful and creates the worst kind of Karma. When people look at Buddha statues in the solemn environment of the temple, one cannot help but to feel respectful, peaceful and humble.

    By putting Buddha’s images in frivilous environments, it connects people’s disrespectful, deluded and frivilious emotions with the action of looking at the Buddha’s image.

    It’s sad that everyone in the West is so addicted to hedonism and ego centric behaviour that people cannot see the depravity of this action. We have been spoilt rotten by our good Karma.

  • http://www.buddha-statues.info Nischhal Pradhan@Buddha Statues

    I don’t think its a big deal, to be honest. Nightlife club or whatever it may be, this doesn’t damage the image of Buddhism no matter how they are shown

  • Mick

    How is your righteous indignation making you feel, my friend?