One of the ways I grow most as a human being is reading books on culture, spirituality, social issues, etc. from a wide variety of viewpoints other than my own. It helps me have a wider, richer view of the world and makes me a more well-rounded person (hopefully).
I recently finished several books on Buddhism. No Mom, I'm not converting.
I found it interesting for the first several hundred years after the Buddha died, there were no images of him. All there was were his teachings which were passed down orally from generation to generation. Eventually, people wanted an image to remind them of their spiritual ideal, and that's how statues of Buddha came to be.
The thing about having statues of Buddha is to remind followers of the ideals in that person they are trying to emulate. As a Catholic, I would say the same things about having a statue of the Blessed Mother or a particular saint; that is a reminder to me of the ideals in that particular person I strive live in my own Christian life. A visual reminder of what I want to be like.
The difficult thing about Buddha statues (or Mary or a certain saint) is that people could be tempted to idolize the statue.
It can become very easy for people in our world today (me) to idolize mentors and teachers, those people who support us an encourage us to grow. It can be so easy to look at big-name speakers or authors and think they have it all together; that through their own success have found the golden ticket to enlightenment, success, and joy. Because news flash we're all secretly the walking wounded, whether we realize it or not. On some level, none of us really have it together.
And I wonder if people stopped to consider that more there would less idolizing of each other or comparing my life to his or hers.
Let's just stop idolizing other people.
Look in the mirror.
Realize you have everything you need to learn your lessons. You have all the courage you need it takes to do those hard, scary things you may want to avoid. You have everything you need to live your one life well.
I know for me sometimes, I don't even realize when I start idolizing people because it can creep on me and I don't even notice it. What helps me most in breaking my mindset of idolatry is deep, heartfelt gratitude. I start counting "gratefuls" and it breaks through that tunnel vision.
One of my favorite authors Shauna Niequist wrote something beautiful on her blog last year sharing how often in the world of Christian-ese speakers and writers, people will identify someone as "The Next _____."