February 11th, 2014
04:27 PM ET

Is bigger Buddha better?

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China is home to the world's fastest train, longest bridge, largest freestanding building, longest wall, and is the biggest source of tourists in the world. In China, bigger is most definitely better – even when it comes to Buddha.

Massive Buddha statues have been built around the country over the past few decades. The 160-foot Buddha in the video towers over crowds, almost as much as another 300-foot Buddha in eastern China does. In 2002, the tallest statue in the world – the 500-foot Spring Temple Buddha – was unveiled in China. It is almost 200 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty!

So why is Buddha on steroids? One word: Tourists.

Last year, this Buddha reportedly brought in 3.8 million visitors and $200 million.

Not every large statue has been met with appreciation though. Two giant Buddhas in their birthday suits recently unveiled in Eastern China were taken down after an uproar.

Maybe someone out there thought a bit about the core teachings of Buddhism, which are about a rejection of materialism, inner strength, meditation, and mindfulness – not super-sizing.

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Topics: Last Look

soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Allan Kinsman

    Sounds like the Chinese have taken a look at the Disney playbook.

    February 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    This is truly ironic since Buddhism has been on the decline in China for several centuries already. It flourished in China around 800 AD but has been declining ever since.

    February 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Reply
    • Quinton

      Why is it Joseph, that you seem to be the only one here who knows that? The others here evidently never read their history books. No wonder we have such idiotic foreign policies!

      February 12, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Reply
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Not only is Buddhism on the decline in China, but the Chinese government has been engaged in a war of extermination of the Falun Gong and peaceful, practicing Buddhists in southern China.

      February 12, 2014 at 5:14 pm | Reply
      • LiveFree

        That's because Falum Gong dont brings tourists. It's their fault, not China government's fault.

        February 14, 2014 at 1:58 am |
    • Seahorse

      I prefer to read the comments. Everything is on its decline, Look at the USA government, attacking other countries with the reason of so-called democracy, killing millions of people without bit of regret, It is the real biggest killer in the world.

      February 14, 2014 at 9:44 am | Reply
      • Mark Rushing

        Thank you, Seahorse. You nailed it good!

        February 15, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
  3. Andrew Hart

    They are actually Chinese Jaegers to ward against Kaiju attacks.

    February 12, 2014 at 10:21 am | Reply
    • leon

      This comment wins this entire thread.

      February 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Reply
    • Nick

      Awesome.

      February 12, 2014 at 8:29 pm | Reply
    • Chris

      Too bad most people won't understand your reference.

      February 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm | Reply
  4. Phuoc

    China turns Buddhas into profits...

    February 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm | Reply
    • rippfx

      It's not so different then any other religion. All religions have statues, symbols, monolithic churches, etc. for tourism. It's not about converting people to new faith, it's about converting currency for expansion of their idolization of materials that represents "faith".

      February 12, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • Old Enough

        I don't know if I would put Islam in that grouping....

        February 13, 2014 at 9:49 am |
    • LT Fang

      Every successful religion has people behind who know how to generate revenue from their teaching, which allows them to reach out to gain more followers, which allow more revenue, which......

      February 13, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  5. Zhang

    Compared with large Buddhas, I prefer ancient statues which cannot be duplicated. But I cannot say I represent most of Chinese.

    February 12, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  6. yolo

    Tell that to the Vatican. China's buddhas are just chump change when compared to Jesus.

    February 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  7. Chinese Buddhism is a joke...

    Buddhism originated in India/Nepal. The Chinese version is really a joke. There is nothing left of the original dharma in China. They just rolled all over it. To this yolo person, Jesus original message comes from Buddhism. Jesus was a con-man and a liar. He has no merit when it comes to truth. His ignorance as the son of this fairy "God" creature invalidates anything else that came out of his mouth. Buddhism is about letting go and a path away from ego..i.e. the truth to finding eternal peace. Jesus is just as much a joke as those who bow down to him...sorry that the truth hurts..

    February 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Reply
    • Joe

      You really shouldn't comment about things you really know nothing about... try actually practicing buddhism and choosing the right flavor as opposed to regurgitating what Hollywood tells you... Buddhists have an appreciation and respect for other religions... No need to disparage others beliefs if you are confident in your own practice.

      February 12, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Reply
      • Fr33th1nk3r

        He never said that he was a Buddhist. he was only commenting on the hypocrisy of Christianity.

        February 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
      • Solamente Doug

        Fr33th1nk3r,

        I don't see anything in that post that hints to Joe thinking the original poster is buddhist. In fact, he/she writes " try actually practicing buddhism and choosing the right flavor..." That kinda tells me he/she doesn't believe the person is actually a buddhist. Later on "...if you are confident in your own practice." could mean anything... there are practicing Christians, Catholics, etc.

        My guess is that Joe is only commenting that dissing someone's religion in the way the original poster does, is not constructive...

        February 13, 2014 at 1:26 am |
    • Christian

      If your goal is eternal peace why do you call the one named God Is Salvation and God is With Us is not the gate to peace. What peace shall thou find if you call your own Salvation and God a con-man and liar?

      And what truth hath buddhism? Siddartha Gautama the first real so-called Buddha received enlightment by the hands of the demon Mara and stole much sorcery from the Vedic era Hindus. Not by my words is this known, but by that of his own and his own followers.

      February 14, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  8. chumanner

    Cause we can use this kick the america ass

    February 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  9. Fr33th1nk3r

    And while China is collecting millions of dollars off the tourism industry and these Buddhist statues– they are slaughtering the Falun Gong Buddhists like cattle in south central China.

    February 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • Solamente Doug

      You mad bro???...

      March 20, 2014 at 8:06 pm | Reply
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    Buddhism has a positive and practical influence. I wish that it were more popular in the USA.
    I often Mahayana Buddhism in coping with daily problems.
    Wonderfully, Buddhism does not teach hatred as a virtue.

    February 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  11. Michael Smith

    I like big buddhas and I cannot lie.

    February 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Reply
  12. Beth

    As one who has practiced Buddhism for several decades, I laugh at the irony of the enormous statues and cry reading the venomous comments.

    February 12, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  13. jamesnyc

    Let's hear it for the "Big Buddha Call"

    February 12, 2014 at 7:43 pm | Reply
  14. chrissy

    Lmao @ Michael Smith and jamesnyc, loved your humor, and you both have proved that laughter truly is the best medicine!

    February 12, 2014 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  15. BOMBO

    Reminds me of the prayer in the school in Monty Python's Meaning of Life.

    "Oh God you are so big. Really really huge. We're all really impressed down here I can tell you."

    Followed by the hymn "Oh Lord Please Don't Burn Me"

    February 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Reply
    • Beth

      Thank you for the brilliant and appropriate Python metaphor. I'm still laughing!

      February 13, 2014 at 12:05 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @BOMBO: that film has my all-time favorite scene, in the restaurant.

      February 14, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Reply
  16. Jeff

    Did Buddah ever said "worship me?"

    February 12, 2014 at 9:10 pm | Reply
  17. chrissy

    Lol @ BOMBO, i forgot how much you liked Monty Python and yea it does remind ya of that!

    February 12, 2014 at 9:28 pm | Reply
  18. mickinmd

    There are a couple Buddhist shrines that survived Chairman Mao's period: our tour group visited one in Shanhai in 2001. When the Cultural Revolution was going to destroy the large statue of Buddha in the shrine, some clever monk hung a pro-Mao sign around it's neck. No one dared to attack it.

    February 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm | Reply
  19. TYRANNASAURUS

    It´s no secret....bigger budas means bigger money.

    February 13, 2014 at 4:57 am | Reply
  20. EA Marco Polo

    [Great restoration for traditional religions of China]

    In 1999, a big Mazu statue was finished on hilltop (near zenith place) of Macau. Soon a very big Guanyin 觀音 statue will be completed in 2014 in Hong Kong.

    ROC Taiwan has had some big statues of Mazu 媽祖, Buddha, Guandi 關帝, Guanyin, Beidi 北極玄天上帝 and Tudigong 福德正神 (/土地公); and some are being built, too. Taiwan also has some new big Confucian Temples. In 2014 a new Confucian Temple will begin to be built in Hong Kong.

    Possibly not just Buddha, soon more big statues of Mazu, Guandi, Guanyin, Beidi, Tudigong and Confucius will be built in Mainland China.

    February 13, 2014 at 7:04 am | Reply
    • East, please don't copy the West

      Eastern World......... please don't copy the Western World............. don't believe their "hype"...... they are totally screwed up human beings.......... who clambered to be "King of the mountain" status thru horrible acts of murder followed by thieving....... your eastern philosophy is much more noble and wise............ stick to it............ we in the West have so much to learn from you.............. we in the West know fully well that the 5 D's: divorce, drugs, debt, decadence, deception is bringing us down, down , down.............. shame on you EA Marco Polo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 20, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  21. kevin flannigan

    I've got a big Buddha too, women love it.

    February 13, 2014 at 8:47 am | Reply
  22. Rick

    They are simply overcompensating.

    February 13, 2014 at 9:18 am | Reply
  23. Salman Rushdie

    I've learned to hold my tongue on topics like this.

    February 13, 2014 at 11:27 am | Reply
  24. Dennis

    Free Tibet!

    February 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • Dire

      Free Kurdistan!!!

      February 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • Col Sanders

      Free popcorn chicken with every 12 piece bucket!

      February 13, 2014 at 9:30 pm | Reply
  25. Nathaniel

    Buddha is better bigger if he is small. It is a big world Buddha.

    February 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Reply
    • Logician

      Huh?

      February 13, 2014 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  26. ZippyWippy

    I believe the article's assertion that Buddhism rejects materialism is somewhat false. It isn't a total rejection of the material world. It is the middle way, you can enjoy life and enjoy the material, the aim is simply to not be imprisoned by those things. Big Buddha statues are also nothing new.

    February 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  27. EA Marco Polo

    [New Goddess Mazu statues are also very big]

    New building Goddess Mazu 媽祖 statue at Qingdao (Taiwan's Mazu Island and 龍鳳宮 at 竹南 both have bigger Mazu statues) and Guanyin 觀音 statue at Hainan Island both are also far bigger than Statue of Liberty. New building Tibetan Buddhist Temple at Xining 西寧 in Qinghai Province is big and beautiful.

    From 1500 years ago, Grand Buddha statues had been built in China. Yungang Grottoes 雲崗石窟 (453 AD – 495 AD) in the North Wei Dynasty and Leshan Grand Buddha 樂山大佛 in the Tang Dynasty both are famous.

    China is so big, so god/goddess statues must be huge for blessing and protecting the giant country and numerous population. Besides, the tourists are so much, and they are increasing so fast, thus god/goddess statues and attached gardens must be giant for containing them. Mr. Zakaria is learned, this is a wonderful report. CNN should have more good reports like this.

    February 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  28. Rick McDaniel

    They simply want to put on a pretty face to the world............while having no real religion of any kind.

    February 14, 2014 at 11:17 am | Reply
  29. RCDC

    China is on the decline and spiritually doom as it worship a false God.

    February 16, 2014 at 11:41 pm | Reply
  30. BobUSA

    Wondering if this is their way of making up for Chinese penile short-comings ....

    February 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
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