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Q&A 138. Photographing statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Q: Dear Master Lu, we would like to invite an image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva to our home. Can we take a photo of the statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva in a temple, and then print the image and pray at home?

A:

  • It is best not to photograph any statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You can invite the image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva from the Guan Yin Citta Centre[1] onto the altar in your home
  • If you must take a photograph, you should first make an incense offering and sincerely pray to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for permission. You can then recite the Great Compassion Mantra 7 times, the Heart Sutra 7 times, and the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 7 times. Wait until the incense has finished burning before you begin to take the photograph. Photographs should not be taken while the incense is still burning, as this is very disrespectful to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  • When the incense curls, or when the wick of your oil lamp forms the shape of a lotus, it suggests that a Bodhisattva is visiting. At that moment, if you would like to take photographs to share it with others to introduce Buddhism to them, it is best not to take the photograph directly as it is disrespectful to take photos when Bodhisattvas are present.
    If you want to take a photo when the incense curls, you should put out the oil lamp before doing so. If you would like to take a photo of the wick of the oil lamp that forms the shape of a lotus, you must say the following prayer beforehand: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva bless me with your compassion, I, <your full name>, would like to use this photo to introduce Buddhism to more people, so that they can develop faith in Buddhism.” After saying the above, it would be alright to take the photo.
  • It is best not to take photographs of yourself with statues or images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or with Dharma instruments. This would also be disrespectful.
  • Furthermore, avoid taking photographs frequently. In particular, avoid using a flash when taking photographs of children. Taking photographs too frequently will cause one’s soul and spirit to separate, be scattered and incomplete.

[1] If you would like to invite the images of Bodhisattvas that we have, please contact Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door Secretariat at <richardlujunhong@sina.com>.

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