Finding Buddha in Bisbee: Where Religion and Culture Meet

Finding Buddha in Bisbee: Where Religion and Culture Meet

I am not native to Arizona, and did not spend time exploring Cochise County until last year.  Historic, or “Tourist” Bisbee as I call it, offers plenty of history, culture, shopping – plenty of attention grabbers.  After the novelty of Tourist Bisbee wore off, I and my love still enjoyed paying a visit for social interaction, especially since we’re stuck in that forsaken stretch of nothing and nowhere between Bisbee and Douglas.  We are both enthusiastic about geocaching, and naturally we pulled up the caches in this area.  I also am building a photo collection of out-of the-way, off-the-popular-path religious and cultural remains.  The rumor in Geocache World that there was a Buddhist shrine tucked away in the hills of Tourist Bisbee intrigued me, and so off we hiked to find it.  We found it.  “It” being the shrine.  We never found the cache that was supposed to be hidden 15 feet from it, but that’s ok.

Now, I am not a religious person, but the art, music, and artifacts of different religions always appeal to the Expressionist in me, as well as the dabbling Anthropologist.  I noted with amusement how people will always modify religions to shape their preferences, like cooks adapting the recipe for chili.  Someone/s added a Catholic touch by placing prayer candles and other items inside the cave.  There’s nothing “wrong” with that, of course, just a little incongruous considering the history and conflicting beliefs behind the two religions and how badly they’ve clashed in lands thousands of miles across a vast sea.  28857793293_dae7481883_m(1)There is also a Native sculpture, and I must say that the traditional Native American lean towards Pantheism does complement Buddhism much better than does Catholicism; but that ancient Western Way still does not match up to this ancient Eastern Way.  But does that matter?  Religion and culture have fused at this shrine, providing comfort and solace to more than just one faith.  Those who are in tune with spirituality will likely find a presence there.  I thoroughly enjoyed contemplating all the items and the symbolism reflected in that cave.  That shrine captured my attention stronger than any shop or bar below.

Oddly enough, not everyone native to Bisbee, not every long-time resident knows that the shrine is even there.  I am in the process of tracking down someone who can give me the story behind who erected the shrine, why, when, how, etc.  That story will be posted here after I can piece it together.   For now, you can view this  photo album of the Bisbee Buddhist shrine.  Thanks for reading, and a happy day to you all!

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