Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Selling "Buddhism" - The Schtuff

Buddhism, like all human activity, has objects. Ritual or almost-ritual objects. I, being a human still attached to objects, do peruse stores and web pages for Buddhist, socialist, UU, etc. schtuff. In this case, yesterday, I was looking for Buddhist "schtuff."

I am amazed at the expensive stuff out there for what seems, to my eye, inexpensive. I am not sure if the Buddha had a certain profit margin that he felt was Dharmish.

I guess some folks gotta make a buck, but sometimes checking some of the "schtuff" sellers' web pages, it makes wonder who buys the stuff. Take for example this:

This is sold as a handcrafted incense cup sold for $22.00. The web page doesn't say why this is a "special" cup. Is this sold directly by the pottery makers? Are these pottery makers earning a living wage? Was this cup brought over from the deep mountains from an ancient Chan monastery? Was this blessed by a 300-year old Zen master? Who knows. Just pay $22....(does not include shipping and handling.)

Yesterday, I went to one of those discount salvage stores. Folks that buy crates of unsold goods & re-sell 'em. I usually go there once a week and see if I can find some chacharas to buy on the cheap. Yesterday, I found what looks to me like a small blue soup dish. Really pretty. Good enough to be an incense cup. Price? $1.00.


taisen said...

Indeed - the price of meditation kit too constantly surprises me. Small cushion: £30. Was it hand-stitched by enlightened masters?

I suspect that sometimes these things support a local sangha (people forget that most groups have got financial commitments to meet like venue rental and so on), but in those cases they should really make it clear. Then buying these things is dana - as opposed to the more capitalist virtue of gullibility...

Of course some of this is to do with economies of scale - the 'handcrafted' tag (if it's true!) makes a difference. Unfortunately, a single craftsman selling these can't compete with a factory in China, or someone picking up crates of stuff that would be thrown away because one item was damaged. Personally, I think your soap dish more than adequate!

At The Moment said...

Thanks for your comment! =)

BTW, I dig my soup dish. Used it this past Friday for my zazen. It looked very soupish-darmish. ;)