Monday, March 23, 2009

Buddha Bar

'Buddha Bar' pressured to close in Indonesia
The Associated Press Published: March 12, 2009. JAKARTA, Indonesia:

The French lounge chain Buddha Bar is under pressure to close its only Asian branch amid corruption accusations and protests by Buddhists who say the use of their religious symbols are blasphemous.Since the December launch of the club in Jakarta, Buddhist students have demanded it be shut down, with dozens burning incense and praying outside.

An independent corruption watchdog said Thursday the venue, an elegant Dutch colonial-era building, was purchased and renovated with nearly $2.9 million in public funds before being turned into a private commercial enterprise under questionable circumstances.Several people involved in the project have ties to the political elite.With cathedral-high ceilings, a cavernous restaurant upstairs has an 18-foot (six-meter) Buddha overseeing seating for 240.

A cocktail club downstairs — like branches in New York, London, Dubai and Kiev — throbs with lounge music. It has quickly turned into a hotspot for the young and wealthy.Opposition to Jakarta's Buddha Bar escalated this week when Indonesian Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni asked the French operator, Paris-based George V Hotels and Resorts, to consider closing down or changing the name.

"If not, I'm afraid there will be an Islam Bar, Christian Bar, and other bars," he was quoted by the Antara state news agency as saying Wednesday. "This is important for harmony among religions."Jakarta's Legislative Council repeated requests to shutter the club, saying it would be the best way to ensure Buddhists are not offended. Protesters say it is wrong to associate Buddha with a bar because the faith prohibits alcohol.Repeated phone calls and messages to managers of the Jakarta Buddha Bar went unanswered Wednesday and Thursday, and a spokesman for the city of Jakarta declined to comment.

The club is jointly run by the daughter of former Jakarta Gov. Sutiyoso, whose administration approved the building's restoration, and the daughter of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Peter Gonta, a powerful businessman and associate of the late dictator Suharto, is also reportedly involved.

Indonesia Corruption Watch said Thursday it has asked the Jakarta city administration to clarify the ownership of the heritage site — a former immigration office built by the Dutch in 1913 in a prime downtown neighborhood."We are worried that there may have been a conflict of interest ... because the club is run by the daughter of the former Jakarta governor," said Agus Sunaryanto, a spokesman for the anti-corruption group. "The city bought the building with the people's money. We have a right to know the circumstances. "With an estimated 200 million Muslims, Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world, but it also has sizable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist communities.


You guys want to know what I think of this?

OK. Here goes but be warned. If you get a shock, don't blame me. Nobody ask you to read this blog. This blog is my personal journal, and it is meant for my own "consumption". Just because it is published in the internet, doesnot mean it is a free invitation to read for everyone. There are millions of blogs in the world wide web, and why did you choose this particular blog to read? It shows it is of your own volition to come in to read it.
I think Buddhism is the only religion that's good enough to be able to have such thing as a Buddha bar. If I were working in Dubai fulltime and I doubt there are any Buddhist temple there, that bar will defnitely be my "temple". That will be my place to reconnect and "recharge" with images of the Buddha and for me to recall the Dharma. I will be at ease with that place despite the drinking and merry making. But I can live with it if I am living in Dubai on a permanent basis for some years and there's no other Buddhist centre to go to. In a scenario of dharma ending age, perhaps one day in the future, these kind of Buddha bars will be the only places we can see Buddha images. Moreover, it is said that even for non-Buddhists, the moment they see an image of the Buddha, it creates a positive imprint in their mind. And one fine day in the future (could be even many aeons later), this imprint may suddenly bloom when he/she reconnects back with the Buddha. So, in that sense, it is good and Buddhists should not be so quick to jump to fixated ideas. It shows that there is still a place for such thing as a Buddha bar. If our mind is pure, everything is pure.

However, it may not be a good idea to set up a Buddha bar in a place where the Buddha dharma is still triving. If it wants to open, perhaps open it at a location where there's very few Buddhists/moral conservatives. Open it at a place where people are not so religious. Then such Buddha bars will truely benefit these people there.

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