The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

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Buddha Jewelry (And other Icons)

A Reader writes:

To anyone who could give me some information,

I have a book in which the protagonist is given a ring with the head of Buddha, made from gold, and which has rubies for eyes. She has a bad time with people wanting the ring, or just wanting to take it from her. I am wondering if Buddhists would find the ring offensive, as I believe a Christian would a ring with the face of Jesus with rubies for eyes, or if people would have some reason to want the ring other than just a fairly nominal amount of money it would bring?

My Response:

I don’t know the book, but you see this sort of thing in movies sometimes.  No, I don’t think Buddhists would be offended at all. Nor would a serious Buddhist desire the ring, for monetary or any other value. Remember, a “serious” Buddhist doesn’t grasp for wealth unless it is given to him or her. At least in theory; I’m sure there are many Buddhists out there that wouldn’t turn away a valuable item if it came into their possession.

Just remember, Buddhists try not to become overly attached to material things. Gold rings, money, ideas, even people can become dangerous attachments. But to chase someone down in order to steal a valuable ring… is not very Buddhist.

As far as this concept being offensive goes… No, most Buddhists wouldn’t care. Even the Buddha, or an image of him, is nothing special. It’s just another thing to be attached to. I’ve written before on the mistaken idea that Buddhists worship idols. They don’t. All those Buddha statues you see are simply art.

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