Well, this title basically wrote itself. My last REAL post, Let's Talk About Feet, dealt with the appropriation and offensive use of Tibetan religious imagery. Presumably the makers of the shoes were neither Tibetans nor Buddhists, so we can shake that off to a certain extent as ignorance. As as you may have gathered from the post, I was more upset by the responses from the Western Buddhist community 's complete disregard for Tibetan culture and the potential for offense than I was about the actual shoes.
Then today I was visiting a large market in a very large, diverse and liberal city. This supermarket really had everything, including it's own devoted Yoga corner.
All the usuals were there. Clothing, accessories, yoga mats and zafus. Zafus are circular meditation cushions, to provide comfort and support to your bum during long meditations and take some stress off of your knees. These are most widely used for Buddhist meditation in Buddhist centers. In fact, a very large number of those who produce these are Buddhist as are those who market it. Then one of the zafus caught my eye.
Yes. That is a Tibetan Thangka image of White Tara, the female Buddha of compassion and long life, printed on a zafu. Remember all that stuff I wrote about having sacred images below the waist? The makers and marketers of this Zafu are telling us to put a sacred image under our butt. And at $49.99, it's not cheap to do so. Plus, if it's in a mainstream market like this, they must be producing and selling a large number. Since these items are pretty much sold to western Buddhists in America (Tibetan homes and temples do not actually use cushions like this, by and large) it says that a solid number of Americans practicing Buddhist meditation are perfectly happy to shove a sacred image under their butt.
I'm just speechless with this one.