My Buddha Statues

Thai Buddha
By Michael Shores

I have a few statues of Shakyamuni Buddha hand-carved by artisans in Bali. The statues show the historical Buddha seated in the full lotus position deep in meditation and they are absolutely beautiful. Buying the first one was a big deal to me. I can remember the day I went to pick it up at this little bookstore. Should I really get a statue of Buddha? Do I even know what that entails? But I think I really want one…

Buying a deeply religious symbol is no small act. On the one hand, it is a piece of wood carved by a person to resemble a historical figure with his body arranged in a certain fashion called “the lotus position” in common forms of yoga. So what? But there is a deeper level of spiritual allegiance, connection, and taboo. See I went to six years of Catholic School, yet I am not Catholic. I am from a family steeped in the southern Baptist and Methodist Christian traditions, yet I am not Baptist or Methodist. Moreover, I am from a city known worldwide as a mecca for New Age philosophy and spiritually. And now I want a wooden statue of Buddha. What will I tell mom and dad?

Long story short: I bought it. I sat it in the middle of my bookshelf. A year later I added a small pair of Chinese Lion Dog figurines to protect him while he meditates. I heard about that somewhere… Some years later, I now have seven statures of different size all depicting the historical Buddha deep in meditation. They all have different faces and some are of different woods: but the story is the same.

Here is what gets me: despite the sometimes-chaotic mess that is my household, they never move. I mean ever. TV blaring in the living room, cooking in the kitchen, music on the computer, cat tearing about the house, neighbors throwing each other down the stairwell sharing a wall with my house, and traffic outside. They never move. EVER!

"Despite the sometimes-chaotic mess that is my household, they never move!"

Now I know what you are thinking and I agree. I have no reason to expect these statues to move at all. They are all Buddha. Ever mindful. Endless patience. Full awareness. Thus come and thus gone. I mean seriously, if anybody should be able to stay calm and focused through the noise of urban life, they should be able. Right?

There are times when I can barely hear myself think between the neighbors, the television, and my girlfriend on the phone. But to see these statures sitting there so peaceful and serine is really quite amazing. They sit with such grace. They sit with such poise. They sit with such good posture. There is a story of an assassin gone to kill the Buddha. He happens upon the sage deep in meditation and stops in his tracks at the sight. Moved by the peaceful image of the monk, the assassin is unable to follow through with his mission.

Although I cannot comment on seeing the Buddha meditate because he passed away before I was born, I can relate to the feeling the assassin must have had. Reading stories is one thing, but seeing the unwavering focus of these statues in action is moving. They remind me that there is peacefulness and it can withstand even in the throws of chaos. I thank them for that.

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