If Only God Made Buddha Statues (Part 1)

All of the statues, beads, incense, and other collected Buddhist miscellania I’ve received over the years has been given to me by friends or monastics. For this I am extremely grateful, not only for their kindness and generosity, but because if I wanted to go out and find these things myself I would have no idea where to go.

I assume a tall mountain with wispy clouds, mythical creatures who ask questions in threes, and switch-triggered rotating walls. This is where these things come from, right?

It was when I was given my very first Buddha statue that I began to have a glimmer of understanding – it was bought in Long Beach, California and given to me by a wonderful woman who had only just met me.

Though I seem to recall late winter, the details that are more clear are as such: My college roommate’s parents had come down to Southern California to visit their son and extended family. My roommate’s parents are both incredible people who I am sure to write more about at a later date, but at this time I barely had the chance to get to know them because I was mired in a particularly tiresome period at University.

One late night I returned after my roommate’s family had already left to find a small pewter Buddha statue sitting three inches high on my desk with an earth witnessing mudra. My roommate then told me that his grandmother had bought it for me, and he began to narrate the events of the last few days.

At one time, when he grandmother was visiting our apartment and I was occupied with studying she must have noticed some detail, perhaps my malas, and asked her grandson, in Cambodian, if I was Neak Krih, a Christian. He responded that, no, I was a Buddhika, a follower of the Buddha.

Later, when she was in Long Beach with the rest of her family, she found a statue that she liked and got it for me. She must have remembered our meager, shrineless apartment and thought that, after all, I was a Buddhika, I needed a Buddha statue!

I was very touched by her gift, given in such a pure and unconditional way. A year or so later, when I was staying with my roommate’s family in San Francisco I had the opportunity to describe how much it had meant to me. His grandmother had braved the misty mountain for me, and brought me back a treasure.

“You know,” I told my roommate, “Buddha statues can’t simply be *bought*, they’re just there, already existing in the world.”

My roommate laughed, “Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if only God made all the Buddha statues?”

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