Stupa surrounded by sandbags
I think Akon’s music espouses reprehensible values and is annoying. Having a Buddha statue for 15 seconds in the back of one music video is the least of his issues. The supposedly Buddhist uproar about this has nothing to do with Buddhism and everything to do with worldly attachments. How can one even mention hate as something in service of Buddhism? It’s just personal insecurity they’re defending, not the noble Buddha. To quote the Dhammapada, “Fools of little wit move about with the very self as their own foe, doing evil deeds the fruit of which is bitter.”
Buddhism is my faith and it’s very important to me. It went from being my faith in name to mine in practice was when I began mediating, a practice I continue to this day. The deeply humbling and difficult (yet rewarding) act of meditation takes Buddhism from something you ‘have’ to something you do, which I think it is. To quote (a paraphrase of) a recent writer on Buddhism:
What Batchelor believes the Buddha did preach were four essentials. First, the conditioned nature of existence, which is to say everything continually comes and goes. Second, the practice of mindfulness, as the way to be awake to what is and what is not. Third, the tasks of knowing suffering, letting go of craving, experiencing cessation and the “noble path”. Fourth, the self-reliance of the individual, so that nothing is taken on authority, and everything is found through experience. (Batchelor via Vernon via Sullivan)
All of this other stuff, these statues, these flags, these temporal things, it is not the point. Buddhism is one faith which is explicitly on point. The Buddha found a way out of suffering. This is the way he found. You have to work at it, you have to question and you have to find the way out for yourself.
As far as I know the Buddha did not encourage statues of himself or the worship of those statues. He certainly didn’t encourage such attachment to these things or symbols and violence and hatred in their name. Most recently there is the case of the stoning of MTV (Maharajah, not music), which I think is dubiously related to the Akon, thing. Let’s take the Facebook group as the one confirmed thing.
This Akon uproar is irrelevant to the practice of Buddhism. Buddhism is a personal practice and protesting about music videos is really besides the point. To quote the Dhammapada again, “He who sees others’ faults, and is ever irritable – the corruptions of such a one grow. He is far from the destruction of corruptions.”
I’m not saying this as a great Buddhist or anything, my lifestyle leaves much to desire. But I do take refuge in the dhamma and I see no hatred or violence coming out of there. The religion is deeply about peace, tolerance and finding a personal way out of suffering.
If Sri Lankans want to sit through an Akon concert that’s their business. If Sri Lankans find it hard to sit through an Akon video I understand. However, if you want to defend Buddhism one might start by practicing it. Rather than chatting on Facebook or (allegedly) throwing stones, that involves a little sitting quietly by yourself. To quote again, “Put anger away, abandon pride, overcome every attachment, cling not to Mind and Body and thus be free from sorrow.”