This is an excellent discussion that took place between Most Ven Ajahn Brahm and a journalist. The meaning of true Buddhist attitude shines through this invaluable passage. Ajahn Brahm is one of the foremost western monks who trained under the late great Thai monk, Ajahn Chah.
“A local journalist called and asked me “What would you do, Ajahn Brahm, if someone took a Buddhist Holy Book and flushed it down the toilet?”
Without hesitation I answered “Sir, if someone took a Buddhist Holy Book and flushed it down the toilet, the first thing I would do is call a plumber!”
When the journalist finished laughing, he confided in me that that was the most sensible answer he had heard.
Then I went further. I explained that someone may blow up many statues of the Buddha, burn down Buddhist temples or kill Buddhist monks and nuns; they may destroy all of this but I will never allow them to destroy Buddhism. You may flush a Holy Book down a toilet, but you will never flush forgiveness, peace and compassion down a toilet.
The book is not the religion, nor the statue, the building or the priest. These are only “containers.”
What does the book teach us? What does the statue represent? What qualities are the priests supposed to embody? This is the “content”.
When we recognize the difference between the container and the contents, then we will preserve the contents even when the container is being destroyed.
We can print more books, build more temples and statues and even train more monks and nuns, but when we lose our love and respect for others and ourselves and replace it with violence, then the whole religion has gone down the toilet.”
From “Good? Bad? Who Knows?” upcoming book by Ven. Ajahn Brahm