Tuesday, October 14, 2014

appropriate Buddhist demeanor?

Try looking up a Buddhist congregation in the United States ... or maybe elsewhere in the world. Am I wrong or does damn near every instructor or guru or lama or holy person associated with such a group -- the guys or gals in the leadership role -- have a smile on his or her face?

This seems to suggest that Buddhists are happy or nice or something similar in a positive realm.


Not a single statue said to represent the Buddha has a smile on his face. Or I can't find it on the giggling god Google. Not one ... unless we're going to call Hotei as an emanation of the Buddha.

If you were a leader of some sort, someone who emulated chants and robes and meditations and thereby asserted a comradeship with Gautama and was into Dharma PR, wouldn't you want to wipe that smile off your face and get with the Buddhist program?


  1. I always thought the buddha statues included a sort of Mona Lisa sort of smile. But i may misremember or apply some personal want to it. Dunno.

  2. Genkaku, you make a good point.

    I remember during my time with Kyudo Nakagawa Roshi I once was with him and some folks and we were looking a a set of photos. Kyudo looked at one of the better pictures of himself and said "That is my 'professional smile'." It looked genuine and welcoming. I don't recall any insincerity in the picture or in the comment.

    However, I have to say that while pictures of smiling spiritual leaders make me feel both safe and skeptical. They do not get my juices flowing.

    Different classes of pictures do motivate me such as portrayals of sincere determination, as well humorous and silly pictures and caricatures of practioners.

    For example I am drawn to pictures such as these:


    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/ BodhidharmaYoshitoshi1887.jpg


    http://www.greatthoughtstreasury.com/sites/default/files/lin -chi[1 ].jpeg

    A "Demon Zen Master" by Hakuin:


    If one picture is 10,000 words, how very carefully a picture must be chosen.