These days you might see Buddha-images in many places, restaurant, café, living room or in the garden. This could be common to the non-Buddhists. Some may not know why we create Buddha-image? Perhaps, they think that the Buddha-images are the symbol of peace and wisdom.
Some legend said that the first Buddha image was created since the Buddha time. King Kosala had the Buddha statue made when the Buddha was away visiting his mother in heaven. The King paid respect to the statue as if he did to the Buddha himself. Even though this is one of “the legend has it”, it implies that the Buddhists create Buddha image as the representation of the Buddha and to worship his virtues and his teachings. This is the main purpose to create the Buddha images.
Now, 2,600 years after his enlightenment. Without the Buddha images it will not be easy to remind us of the great teacher with great purity, wisdom and compassion.
In each Buddhist temple, they try to make the atmosphere as if the Lord Buddha is still alive. The temple is combined with three main places, the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha places. The Budda place is where the Buddha resides usually in the main chapel. The big Buddha image will be there. Buddhists will make their best effort to make the Buddha image with the best material they can afford. Gold is the most valuable material that people can find and many gold Buddha images can be found in many Buddhist countries. It is the token of their highest gratitude and respect to the Buddha.
The ceremony of the monks, for example, monk ordination ceremony have to be performed in the chapel with the presence of the Buddha (The Buddha-image) and the Sangha. The Dhamma teaching to the general public is done in the Dhamma Place or Dhamma Sala (Hall). The Dhamma place also has a Buddha-image as the president in sharing the Dhamma. However a monk will take the duty to give the Dhamma. It can be noticed that the monk who will give the Dhamma will firstly pay homage to the Budda with the following chanting.
“NAMO TASSA BHAGAVATO/
I wish to revere with body, speech and mind that Lord apportioning Dhamma/
That One far from defilements/
The One Perfectly Enlightened by himself.”/
Repeat it three times.
The monk who gives the Dhamma talk is a communicator who relays the Dhamma, that the Buddha discovered and taught during his life time, to the audience in Dhamma Sala.
For many Buddhists that cannot come to the temple regularly, or have no access to the temple at all, a Buddha image, even a small one, will be the best thing they could wish for in their home. It will make them feel that they are close to the Buddha. They will select the best spot, and display the Buddha image in the place of respect. If possible they may dedicate one whole room to be a shrine or a meditation room. When they enter this room the atmosphere would help them to be calm and peaceful. It helps to prepare them to be ready to practice the Dhamma such as chanting and meditating without any distraction.
Many westerners may put the Buddha in the garden, they can adjust it in the right place as well by raising it in a higher place and they can arrange that area to be a sitting place to purify their mind by meditating in front of the Buddha. By seeing the Buddha image could remind people to look and find their own Buddha with in themselves.
We hope this article could assist both Buddhists and Non-Buddhists who want to have Buddha-images at home or at their shop would use the image in the right purpose and put the Buddha image in the respectable place.