Peace, tranquility, harmony and balance. Those are words often associated with the Buddhism, and thus the Buddha's likeness has become an ever popular presence in many homes as a centerpiece or accessory, even amongst non-believers. The LA Times has a fair-handed discussion about the commodification and marketing of what is to many is the anti-thesis of the figure and religion...
"Most Americans don't know much about Buddhism, so statues, wall carvings and paintings don't "come with baggage," he says. "It's a blank slate that they can accept on their own terms."
Different denominations have rules as to how such articles should be handled. Some believe it's wrong to use Buddha images on clothing and other everyday items. Even an expensive lamp, no matter how finely crafted, can try a practitioner's patience.
Surya Das, a Cambridge, Mass.-based lama in the Tibetan tradition, has seen bars named after Buddha, even a restaurant that used a statue to hold umbrellas.
"No one in the West would use a Jesus statue as an umbrella rack," he says, adding that respect for Buddhism "occasionally strays" and too many statues may be "diluting Buddha."
"But if elegant, architectural adornments make people happy for a moment, that's a good thing," says Das, author of "The Big Questions: How to Find Your Own Answers to Life's Essential Mysteries" and other books on Buddhist thought."
"...The guiding principle, Ito says, is respect. How would you respond if your religion's sacred symbol was used as a coaster, Jell-O mold or bobblehead?"