Sunday, May 25, 2014

What kind of fakery is this?

The grand arrival of the "Buddha's parietal bone relic" in Hong Kong last night, to be displayed at the "China-backed" World Buddhist Forum in the Coliseum, was certainly a colourful spectacle, but the whole event reeks of fakery.

Leaving aside the irony of an avowedly atheist regime sponsoring a religious event, the relic itself is of dubious provenance.  Claimed to be part of the Buddha's skull, it was apparently only unearthed in Nanjing, China, in 2010 (or 2008 - China's propaganda organ, the China Daily, does not even seem sure of the date).   I have seen no clear explanation of how a fragment of bone dug up in Nanjing can be positively identified as coming from a body cremated 2,000 miles away 2,500 years ago.  In fact the whole business of religious relics has historically been mostly about persuading the gullible faithful to part with their money - it has often been jokingly said that there was enough "wood of the true cross" in Europe to build a battleship.

Even if the relic is genuine, why are believers being invited to worship it?  This is surely contrary to the teachings of the Buddha that suffering is caused by excessive attachment to the material world.  Whatever remains significant about Sakyamuni, it is not his physical body.

Further evidence that the Forum is more of a propaganda event than a religious one comes from the presence of the so-called Panchen Lama.  In fact no one knows the whereabouts of the real Panchen Lama - or even whether he is still alive - other than the Chinese authorities who abducted him and engineered his disappearance after his recognition by the Dalai Lama.  The person attending the Hong Kong event is the fake Panchen Lama chosen by the Chinese government, who have no more authority to appoint the Panchen Lama than they do to select the next Pope. - which they would probably like to do if they thought they could get away with it!

No comments: