Q. Why should we bow and pray to a statue of Buddha?
A. You should not pray to it. It is a lifeless thing made of wood, steel, stone, or clay by people. Whatever you say to it, it doesn’t make any answer or reaction to your prayer, let alone comply with your request. Praying to a statue of Buddha is no more than idol worship, which is not a religion but a superstition or a kind of primitive belief like the worshipping of natural things such as the sun, the moon, huge rocks, big trees and so on.
If you are to pray to Buddha, then you had better treat people around you with the same mental attitude that you have during prayer to a Buddha statue. This is true prayer, and you will never fail to be rewarded for your prayer. The purpose of Buddhism is not to idolise a statue of Buddha but to realise that people around you are the holy and valuable being that you should treat in the same way you worship a statue of Buddha. So, the first Patriarch Bodhidharma said, “Don’t make your living Buddha worship a dead Buddha.”
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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