This summer, Avenue is exploring the best of New York’s spa offerings. Click here to read more from this series — because if you can relax here, you can relax anywhere.
Buddha statues and Buddhist imagery are omnipresent in spas and wellness centers. On one hand I think how nice that they’re putting out a statue of the Buddha. Maybe someone will be inspired and want to study the dharma, or Buddhist teachings. On the other hand, I do not think that is the intention.
Often, the statue reads as another piece of furniture, as décor and not a representation of an actual person, someone who “woke up.” How would the owner feel about putting their own religious figures in a spa? Would Catholics consider putting Jesus near the massage table? If not, why do so with the Buddha. When you think about the actual journey of the Buddha, he was a prince who, some 2,500 years ago, left the comfort and luxury of his palace to seek enlightenment in the forests of India. He woke up by not chasing pleasure but accepting suffering.
Lodro Rinzler is the cofounder of MNDFL and the author, most recently, of Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice For Anxious Times.