in a world that believes all roads lead to heaven (or happiness or enlightenment or success or rebirth) and that one can create one’s own truth, i guess it should not surprise me that a statue of buddha would be heralded as being inspiring and peaceful. the largest buddha statue to ever be carved out of one single piece of jade, known as “the jade buddha”, is currently on display at the escondido center for the arts. an article in today’s north county times quotes an onlooker as saying “when we went, we felt a peace.” another visitor said, “we do feel the peace that comes with this… the buddha reached enlightenment through meditation, and that is what we teach our children and grandchildren. be calm and meditate.” the jade buddha is on a tour to many cities in the u.s. and canada. the organizer of this tour, ian green, said, “many americans have been attracted to the jade buddha because of its almost primordial symbolism of peace and harmony… many of them have come back day after day to be in the presence of this inspiring symbol.”
this, to me, is a tragedy. visitors to this statue are undoubtedly seeking peace, which the buddha is purported to inspire. they want to be in the presence of statue that has been made by man, carved out of a piece of stone because it will somehow help them feel… peaceful?
objects can, in fact, inspire a sense of peace in me. for example, when standing on a hill overlooking the ocean, watching the sun’s rays cascade onto the water’s surface, i feel at awe and peaceful. when viewing a beautiful sunset, colorful butterfly, or a child laugh and smile, i again feel peaceful. but this peace is not the absence of thought or a calming of the mind, as it is in buddhism. i feel peaceful when i view the creation of my Lord and realize His infinite power, might, mercy, grace, and love. peace is the realization, knowledge, and assurance that God has freed me from the bondage of sin and it is no longer me who lives, but Christ lives within me. peace is knowing my Creator in an intimate way and knowing He loves me, despite my sinfulness.
peace is far more than being calm and meditating. feeling peace is not a means to gain rebirth and regeneration, as it is in buddhism. peace, instead, is the outcome of being reborn in the Spirit (which is an entirely different rebirth than that in buddhism). for it is only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the faith He has produced in me that i have been reborn and can feel peaceful- that is true peace.
how sad, how desperate, to look to a man-made statue to gain internal peace. the God i worship, the one true God, is so much more grand, powerful, awesome, and mighty than a statue made out of jade. and God is the only being worthy of worship.
amidst cries for coexistence and tolerance, truth has been discarded. truth, you see, is too polarizing, too absolute. no one wants to be told they are wrong. there is allegedly no way of determining right and wrong, so why not abandon them both? can’t we all just determine what is right for ourselves? this is exactly what our culture tells us. but, in fact, there is one truth:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).
- “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” (1 Timothy 1:15).
- “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do, ” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
the only true peace is achieved (and actually we don’t do the “achieving,” rather it is given to us) by the Lord who reigns over all of creation. not by looking at a jade statue.