Friday, 24 April 2015
Another day, another vaguely religious controversy. This time to do with a Sikh film, Nanak Shah Fakir that, despite being approved by the British Sikh Council is being picketed by those who adhere to a maxim never to portray the guru. Smacking somewhat of the Charlie Hebdo affair, those who don’t want to see a portrayal of a religious icon will go to extreme lengths if necessary to prevent others from seeing a portrayal of a religious icon. All’s fair in the divine cosmos.
Of course religions have rules, lots of rules and many of them are to do with viewing images of their holy figures – even the old testament has warnings about graven images and no doubt, to some, the figures of nailed-up Christs that adorn the gilded Catholic world promise a special kind of hell for all who gaze upon them. Or maybe those crucifixes are to remind the priests what happens to old men who bugger pre-pubescent boys?
In the perverse world that those gods supposedly created it is entirely likely that this prohibition itself lies behind the multitude – good old biblical term there – of holy apparitions that litter history. People obsessed with not seeing their prophet, guru or god then can’t help but see their dangerous features in dreams, in trances, in out-of-body experiences and in all manner of everyday objects. The figure of Jesus in the bum of a dog, the figure of allah in the bomb of a jihadi. Burning bushes, effigies, weeping statues, moving pictures and the rest; it’s all pretty mental, really.
In the Buddhist faith, however, depictions of the jolly fat lad appear ubiquitous and although Buddha isn’t a god, as such, I have no doubt he does appear, at times of great joy, to those who wish for it the hardest. So it was a matter of some disappointment to a young Buddhist at a multi-faith retreat to find himself relegated to second place in the ‘see your saviour’ stakes.
It was breakfast and the faithful were lining up at the toast machine, waiting patiently as their slices rolled along the automated grill conveyer, emerging golden brown at the business end. Seeing his slice emerge and rolled towards the drop the young enlightened one picked up a plate, grabbed a pat of butter and turned back to the toaster, only to see a disciple of Christ spreading the self-same slice with a blob of a popular alternative bread spread. But before he had a chance to complain, the god-botherer turned to the queue and held up his slice of generously larded breakfast comestible.
Take my wife... no, really!
“Behold!” he spake, “the face of our Lord Jesus Christ appears in the melted margarine!” Uncharacteristically angry that this miracle had been denied him, the saffron-robed one exclaimed, exasperated, “I can’t believe it’s not Buddha!”