Some might ask, why would Western people practicing the Buddhist trainings, especially those talking about secularity, keep a statue or a picture of the Buddha in their house. One’s usual answer of the writer to friends is: it is a reminder. A simple one.
Having a small statue or an image somewhere you work or spend time is a good way to remind one of the mindfulness exercises in daily activities or remind one of the training rules (if one has taken such on). And of the Sangha – trained monks, monks in training and other lay practitioners – in times of discouragement. Thats it. There is no idol, no worship, no god behind that. It is as if you had a photo of your violin teacher somewhere to remind you to practice, and for some or many, to also evoke a feeling of gratitude or connectedness (not sure it’s a good example as one does not know what the exact relationship between strings students and their teachers is, maybe it is a tense one… but you get the point).
When the writer in a situation that would normally initiate a behavioural pattern, or may have already initiated one, that does not normally bring beneficial results, having something like this in sight brings one to instant “meditation”. One can regognize the pattern one is in and observe it. We could use a rock or a something-something instead of a more famous symbol or icon but then we would have to anchor the meaning through repetition and exposure to it somehow beforehand. The recognition of the symbol needs to be instant. The patterns we have been conditioned to react upon arise instantly. And a gap would be undesirable.
Two interesting discussions on that topic can be found here: