SuttaCentral

Knowing Buddha Organization & www.5000s.org


#1

I came across this organization and their website when I have last been to Thailand.
In a nutshell, their website www.5000s.org is a platform to petition campaigns to stop the disrespectful acts toward the Buddha.

They also have massive multi-language billboards in Bangkok and other Thai tourist destinations calling for tourists to respect the Buddha image and not buy statues, heads etc.

Apparently, the organization is headed by a lay master of vipassana meditation named Acharavadee’s Wongsakon and have support from Thai National Office of Buddhism:

What do you think of their cause?

  • Yep, I support their cause!
  • Nope, I don’t support their cause!
  • Hmmm, I partially support their cause…

0 voters

The link to their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/KnowingBuddha/

It is disappointing that they don’t go beyond just asking people to respect Buddha images and invite them to learn about what Buddha taught - they could point to SuttaCentral.net in that case! :slightly_smiling_face:


#2

I am aware of the organization and have looked into them in the past. The one thing that I find particularly ironic about their cause is that in Thailand, it’s almost impossible to walk around and NOT see the Buddha represented somewhere, especially as a decoration (including temples). I do agree that the image of the Buddha should not be used to sell products (cultural appropriation, etc.), but I still find it a bit ironic since they are based in a country so full of Buddha iconography.


#3

How could a Buddha statue in a temple possibly function as a decoration? It would seem that merely by being in a temple a Buddha statue would function as a religious artifact .


#4

I think the billlboards are a good idea.

I’ve read so many stories about clueless people travelling to Asia, doing something they think is harmless, and ending up in jail.

Communication, as with such billboards, can cut down on those unfortunate incidences.

I also think it can contribute to the (needed) education of people outside of Asian countries who think the Buddha is a lawn ornament or a patron saint sage of stoners who will explain their drug trips or give them hall passes to do things they want to do but feel awkward about.

I also think many Buddhist Asians have missed the boat in regards to true dhamma.

Shakayumi wouldn’t have locked people up for putting a statue of him in a head shop or using it as a decoration. He would have used it as a teaching opportunity.

Instead of arresting people for years for misusing a statue I think instead countries like Thailand and Burma should give a flyer to incoming travellers explaining what acts are not appreciated, perhaps accompanied by thin pamphlets briefly describing the four noble truths and eight fold path.

If someone still disrespects Buddhism ( inadvertently ) while in those countries, I as a law enforcement official might take someone with an attitude down to the police station and give them a choice a few weeks in jail or reading & taking a quiz on a pamphlet explaining Buddhism and that countries concept of respect.


#5

Actually, such flyers/pamphlets exist. I was in Thailand in February and was given a flyer about how not to disrespect Buddhist symbols. It was not government-issued. To be honest, I don’t remember exactly where I got it. It may have been in one of my hotel rooms or I may have been given it at a Buddhist temple. Usually I have a good memory for such things but there was a lot to absorb in Thailand. In any case, there are private organizations that do distribute literature for tourists to give them a quick primer on respecting Buddhist images and symbols.

On another note, when I started practicing Buddhism back in the United States I was at the house of an old friend of mine who studied Buddhism in Southeast Asia and came close to ordaining as a monk. I was surprised to see that in his house and in the garden he has several Buddha statues placed below waist level. I thought that was a no-no in terms of respecting the Buddha’s image.


#6

Metaphor,

That is incredibly awesome.


#7

I think it may have sprung from respect as well as frustration and anger, may be ill conceived, will have mixed results.


#8

Hurrah for the thought police. While it’s surely a good idea to have some familiarity with the laws and social customs of a country one is visiting, an authoritarian attitude about what must be respected strikes me as anti-Buddist.

Statues and icons can be appreciated as art objects without the observer knowing anything about, or caring anything about, whatever religion the object is associated with.

The silliness of this group’s position is easily seen by extending their tut-tutting to other Buddhist symbols like, say, an umbrella. I used an umbrella yesterday, since it was raining, and it’s currently lying open on the back porch to dry. Should I have not been allowed to buy it, since I don’t possess the correct attitude towards a religious symbol?


#9

A statue by itself is not necessarily an artifact, it’s a statue and thus something created by Man to decorate or adorn a particular area (by the strictest sense of the definition). An artifact would be more akin to an actual relic (i.e. a tooth from the Buddha, a bone, etc.). Even the Buddha himself said not to create things in his image for worship or veneration. Now take that and place it into the context of a country such as Thailand (which I like) where you have a country full of Buddha iconography and that is what I am talking about. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with it personally (i.e. having a statue in a temple, etc.), but I stick with what I said above in that I find this particular organization’s crusade a bit ironic given the fact they are based out of Thailand and that country is very much filled to the brim with Buddhist iconography of all sorts.


#10

Thanks for the info. I think these were the same mob who had a stall at the recent Mitra conference in Sydney.

There’s actual problems in the world. This isn’t one of them.


#11

Respect is a good thing, particularly when it comes to ancient temples and artifacts. Most of us would have enough intelligence not to buy a Buddha-head that had been taken from an ancient stone statue etc. But not all foreign tourists may have a lot of respect for religious artifacts of significance - culturally and spiritually. Some may be hunting for a memento to put on their mantle-piece or coffee table etc. If educating foreign tourists in this way is the agenda then I understand why it might be supported by many Thai people.

We all know about the sad fate of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan and, the vandalism of temples and monasteries in the Chinese cultural revolution. The museums of the world and the theft of temple artifacts by invaders and comes to mind.

If they also encouraged foreigners to buy modern copies of Buddha’s etc. it might sound less xenophobic. I can see how it could be taken the wrong way and be used to create an atmosphere of mistrust and division.


#12

I don’t have much of an opinion on the subject because I don’t have enough experience with the issues to have formed one. I would say that, as far as we can tell from the suttas, the Buddha never encouraged either the manufacture or the veneration of images of himself. Also, the iconic images that are produced portray the Buddha with elaborate headpieces and a pointed topknot of hair. But the textual evidence indicates that he was a “shaveling”.

Most of what we think of as the Buddhist “religion” is a post-Buddha development.


#13

How did you feel about the destruction of the giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan - and why did you feel the way you did?


#14

Hi Laurence, your question is not addressed to me but I’d like to reply to it anyway :slight_smile:

I did not feel any sadness because I don’t have a strong connection with Buddha images (although the hatred behind such destruction is very sad indeed).

But what is also fascinating, is that out of the destruction and chaos came… new discoveries that are now adding new knowledge to Buddhism in this area!

See Wikipedia article and references therein:

After the destruction of the Buddhas, 50 caves were revealed. In 12 of the caves, wall paintings were discovered

Scientists also found the translation of the beginning section of the original Sanskrit Pratītyasamutpāda Sutra translated by Xuanzang that spelled out the basic belief of Buddhism and said all things are transient

It is close to the Streisand effect… the very act of destroying Buddhist culture lead to an increase in awareness of Buddhist culture (most people learnt that Buddhism went up to Afghanistan due to this event) and new archeological discoveries. How amazing, and how strange the laws of kamma!

Anyway, this is very off-topic, sorry :zipper_mouth_face: :anjal:


#15

I feel bad and disturbed about that, just like I feel bad and disturbed whenever important historical artifacts from the world’s material culture are destroyed or looted. Similar awful losses occurred in Iraq as a result of the US-led invasion there.


#16

I have always felt that humanity is enriched through the preservation of ancient cultural sites - Buddhist or otherwise. If people don’t value these remnants of bygone cultures then I feel we may be in danger of to much uniformity and, cultural ignorance. We could end up in a world where there is an abundance of take away food outlets and, other franchise, endless modern shopping malls, a monoculture. The significant historical buildings, statues, art works of the past help us to get to see our own life and times in a wider perspective - the good, the bad, the profound, the profane, the sublime and the ridiculous. Buddhist culture and civilization is something that has enriched our collective experience and is worthy of respect and care.


#17

I am one of the supporters of KBO. I really like what the organization has done. I really want to tell Gnlaera that we also feel so disappointed with you. The way you post is not for any benefit but want to have negative comments from people. You should seek for more info about the organization, the president and all the missions that KBO has done. To tell people to have proper respect toward Buddha is one part of our work as people tend to misuse Buddha images. All the staff who work for KBO is volunteer and all need to pass meditation and vipassana medition practice . And for sure all the teachings of the Buddha that you said we didn’t go through, we all keep practicing as our daily life. Don’t worry. Buddha is a person who brought us Dhamma, it is no need to hesitate to help correct when his symbol is used in the wrong way. Pls think twice of the purpose of your post. If your want to know more about us, you are welcome.


#19

I’m not disappointed it because they provide the right information how to treat Buddha symbol it mean provide the right teaching of Buddha which should not disrespect of others if not Buddha and if it 's your God or parent are use symbol as product or decoration so how do you feel? I clicked into their website ,they showing the teaching of Buddha with right way and right information, I’m one of Buddhist ,before you post this please recheck clearly again because it will be misunderstand for other who don’t really know this. Thanks


#20

There seems to be a misunderstanding here.
I cannot be held accountable for others’ reaction to the information I brought them.
Even the poll I started shows that most people agree with your organisation’s purpose and intent.
I personally think you guys are doing a good thing to the Buddhist culture, but could do more in terms of pointing those corrected in regards to the respectful way to treat Buddhist art and symbols.
Take it easy and keep up with the good work!
:anjal:


#21

Hi everyone. My name is Bo. I’m a dentist living in Thailand.

First of all, I respect and would love to listen to different points of view. However, as an active volunteer of KBO, May I share with you guys what KBO does and the reasons why KBO does like this?

KBO’s purpose is to share the knowledge of how to treat Buddha’s symbols properly.

Why we have do this?

Every single volunteer of KBO is a vigorous meditator. Despite different backgrounds, the more we train our mind through meditation, the more deeply we appreciate the Buddha because Buddha taught us the most significant thing: the way to end all misery. Therefore, we wholeheartedly feel grateful to Buddha and come out to protect Buddha and his symbols as the symbol is not just a material but indeed the thing reminding us of Buddha and his virtue.

The only thing driving us is deep gratitude to the Buddha.

What we do?

We have been trying every single way to protect Buddha’s symbols from being mistreated like what you commonly see worldwide. We make Megabillboards trying to tell visitors since their first step here in the Buddha land that Buddha is not for decoration or tattoo. We put roll-up stands and set spiritual life exhibitions to share Do and Don’t to Buddha’s symbols. Besides, we make 5000s Magazine, a wisely-blended lifestyle and Dhamma magazine, to share Buddha’s teachings to which everyone, whether Buddhists or non-Buddhists, can apply in daily life.

While I was a volunteer of KBO in Spiritual Life Exhibition at Arun Temple a few months ago, a foreigner walked past our booth and took a photo at the wall of the booth. A short moment later, he came back to me and showed me the photo. He said that I decided to visit our exhibition because he wholeheartedly agrees with the message in the photo. This is a photo of one of KBO’s Megabillboards and such a touching message is
" Not only do we protect Buddhism but awaken the morality of mankind"

This clearly proves that KBO’s unwavering effort to raise the sense of respect is universally understandable. Regardless of nationality and religion, respect to the virtuous one like the Buddha is common sense.

Hope everyone who read my explanation will have the right understanding of what KBO has been doing.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart.