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How important are Buddha statues to the *actual practice* of Dhamma?

My "take" on this issue is that Dhamma practice can take place without any Buddha statues at all, because what *is* important are Sila, Samadhi and Pañña. Meaning that I can practice Dhamma without "having" to place a Buddha Statue, etc...

I'm asking this because I recently found myself in an unfortunate argument with a fellow buddhist regarding the importance of "sticking to the rituals"....

Let me explain...

I am a part of a small Sangha in Israel.

A short while ago, a member of the Sangha asked if he could bring over a Jewish friend of his that wanted to hear the Dhamma. So far so good.

Now, Judaism apparently has an "issue" with statues (which they claim is like worshipping idols and false gods etc), so my friend asked if, just for a *short while* and until his jewish friend understands that the statue is *just a statue* - they would mind putting our small Buddha statue aside and not put it on "full display" at the meditation room.

The jewish guy did not ask for this. it's just his friend (practicing buddhism) that suggested make his friend more comfortable until he really understands that nobody is worshipping the Buddha as a God etc...
I, personally, did not have any issue with placing the statue aside, since - while I respect the Buddha - I think the most respectful thing to do is to practice his compassionate, try and help others hear Dhamma, and be more "flexible" and not attach to things and rituals...
But when I suggested this to others members of the Sangha - they strongly opposed.
To be honest - I was quite disappointed, because their stance seemed to be coming out of some unskillful mind state, which *clings* to the statue, clings to "what it means to be a buddhist" or something...
and I'm really just trying to it really wrong to be willing to put the statue aside?
What is the *harm* done by temporarily removing the statue VS. the good that may result from this guy opening up to the Dhamma?
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this...whatever they may be :)
(I hope I explained myself well enough...)

submitted by /u/eitanbar
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This post first appeared on Bodhisatva India, please read the originial post: here

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How important are Buddha statues to the *actual practice* of Dhamma?


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