The Case of the Missing Buddha

Vicki Doudera here.  My husband Ed and I were out walking yesterday when we passed by our friends Kathy and Jack, who live in a new home overlooking Camden harbor.  We greeted them with the standard “How are you?” and Jack responded with a surprising answer.

“Not great,” he admitted. “Someone stole our Buddha.”

The piece of statuary Jack referred to sat by their front door for the past five or six years. About two feet high and made of stone, the chubby God appeared to weigh quite a bit, although Kathy admitted it “wasn’t as heavy as it looked.”

Not too heavy for someone to haul off.


Jack said that he’d reprimanded a throng of skateboarders the same afternoon of the Buddha’s disappearance, and he thinks they returned under the cover of darkness to snatch the statue. “I think they threw him in the harbor,” he said.

It turns out Jack and Kathy aren’t the only ones missing their Buddha.  Back in May, on the “other” coast, a Santa Cruz, California man reported a green plastic one stolen from his yard.

“I am concerned about the person who took him,” John Morris wrote in a letter to the local paper. “Perhaps they are not aware of the cosmic law that is, whomever shall purloin another person’s Buddha is developing for themselves some seriously bad Karma. Trust me, no one wants that.” He went on to advise the thief in this way:  “I suggest that you divest yourself of negativity and bring back Buddha immediately.”

Jack mentioned that he and Kathy were thinking of writing a similar letter to The Camden Herald. Appeals like this sometimes work, say law enforcement experts. Crooks can have a change of heart after reading a poignant plea. Others can feel moved to contribute to a replacement item. And, especially in close-knit communities, someone might recognize the stolen property and rat out the perp.

Sometimes it seems that the theft of something minor – like a garden statue – is trivial.  But any crime hits us hard, making us feel violated and unsafe.

Last winter it dawned on me, after my fourth jacket “went missing,” that someone was coming into our unlocked home and ripping off down parkas and a leather jacket or two. The nice cop who came to the house described it as a perfect crime, because the thief could walk into our mudroom coatless and emerge wearing a jacket, with no one really the wiser. He speculated that the coats were most likely sold for drug money, a comment that made me cringe. But that discomfort was nothing compared to the anger and sadness I felt when I realized we needed to start locking our doors.

Back to the Buddha.  It would be nice if he reappears on Jack and Kathy’s stoop, a little wiser perhaps but still serene.  In the meantime, his theft raises some interesting philosophical questions:

Is the taking of a Buddha something to accept rather than rail against?

Could the deity have gone somewhere he is needed more?

And, if material possessions are not the key to enlightenment, is the theft of a Buddha even an issue?

Perhaps the answers lie in one of his wise teachings.  I’ll keep you posted.

“The kind of seed sown
will produce that kind of fruit.
Those who do good will reap good results.
Those who do evil will reap evil results.
If you carefully plant a good seed,
You will joyfully gather good fruit.”
— Dhammapada

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4 Responses to The Case of the Missing Buddha

  1. Joan Emerson says:

    Philosophically speaking, it makes not one bit of difference if the Buddha went “somewhere he is needed more” or if the disappearance of coats from your closet force you to lock your doors . . . the bottom line is that is wrong to take something that belongs to someone else, no matter what your need may be. Should I say to the young man who kicked in my locked back door in an attempt to help himself to my things that it is okay, that he can take my computer, or my Nook, or my money, or my jewelry, because surely, philosophically, he needs these things more than I do? I think not. People need to learn to have respect for others . . . and that respect means they don’t appropriate something that belongs to someone else for their own use, no matter what their need or desire.

    • Joan, good points and I’m sorry you had to experience your robbery. The only “good” thing that comes out of something like that is that as a writer you can now “use” the material. But that isn’t always very comforting, is it?

  2. MCWriTers says:

    I hope they get their Buddha back! I would be deeply sad if my stone garden Buddha went missing. They can have the plastic one, though.

    But interesting to think about karma, and whether there’s a version of as yes sow and all that. My mother taught respect for property very simply. She would say: Does it belong to you? No? Then leave it where it is. I do not apply her philosophy when I find a $20.00 bill lying beside the road. But we should all be reminded to use our world gently, and not tromp on the rights of others.

    Are you seeing a plot here, Vicki?


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