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Buddha Salt, Buddha Beer, and Christ’s Corn Chips: Are We Offended Yet?

Someone (I suspect it wasn’t actually a reader) wrote this to me:

2205571Dear Sir/Madam,

As we go to the grocery stores and  kitchens,  we may see “Buddha Salt” by

We think it is a great disrespect to use Buddha as a commercial brand. We also feel that it is not good to use Jesus as a brand. Neither Bush salt, nor Obama salt. Himalaya would be already famous enough for a brand, why not use that, or some other brand? Such an abuse should be a great religious hurt to Buddhism and Buddhists. We thus protest and  please transfer this email to people as many as possible, who support us or have normal consciousness for religion.  Let it be clear that the holy religion is not commercial, not for the money.

Buddha is to give wisdom;  Buddhism is to benefit the world, but not to earn money, especially for individual companies.

My response:

I was in a local Chinese restaurant last week, and they had this big sign up for “Lucky Buddha Beer.” I don’t drink beer, and I don’t even much care for it, but you know what? I bought a bottle because it looked neat. The green bottle was a Buddha (Hotei actually, not Buddha, but it’s essentially the same over here), and now it’s sitting on my shelf. I don’t have any idea whether their beer is any good or not, it was Buddha who sold that beer.

6a013486d9362c970c016761745899970b-800wiThere is a certain level of tastelessness to this situation. I’ve never seen “Christ’s Corn Chips” or “Jesus Jambalaya,” and the reason is pretty simple; it would offend people. I can see and understand that. Jesus, after all, is said to be the son of God, or God himself, however you choose to interpret it, and is therefore worthy of more respect than a normal person. That’s from the Christian perspective of course, but here in America, that’s the predominant point of view, and marketing companies know it. Christians tend to take God and Jesus very seriously, and that’s OK because it’s part of their belief system.

Buddha and Buddhism, on the other hand, is not the same thing. Buddha was a great man and worthy of our respect as well, but he was just a man– At least in the beginning and depending on which Buddhist group you adhere to, but my point is that he’s not a god. Did he do great things, and is he worthy of a LOT of respect? Absolutely. But getting too carried away with that respect can be counterproductive to Buddhism.

The writer of the note claims that “Such an abuse should be a great religious hurt to Buddhism and Buddhists.” and I have to ask “Why?” The simple fact that you are “offended” by this, or “offended” by anything probably indicates that you have too much of an attachment towards some idea, and that is clearly a bad thing. I don’t know if Buddha would personally object to his image being used commercially or not, but I am pretty sure he’d object to your being offended by it. Your being offended hurts YOU, not the Buddha or Buddhism as a whole. The only one you are hurting here is yourself with your overattachment to this ideal.

My advice: Lighten up– There are more important things to be offended by and/or fight for.

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