Do you worship idols? There are two kinds of idols. Those in form, and those in spirit. Everyone has idols. They provide us with inspiration, giving meaning and direction to our lives.

The cross of Christianity, the Virgin Mary of Catholicism, Avalokitesvara and Ksitigarbha of Buddhism, and deities, such as Mazu, the Earth God, the City Guardian, and Guan Gong, are all idols. Some people hang pictures of their parents or set a shire honoring their ancestors in the living rooms of their homes. Whether it is paper, wood, metal, or glass, they are all idols.

After the idol is in place, we may prostrate ourselves, or offer incense and flowers. We no longer think of it merely as paper, wood, metal, or a framed picture. It is the symbol of our admiration and worship. The idol provides an example for us learn from, to remember over time, and to be one with us in spirit. This is an idol of form.

When we are asked whom we admire or what virtue we believe in, we may say that George Washington, Thomas Edison, or Thomas Paine are our idols, and our faith lies in compassion, morals, justice, and righteousness. These are our idols of spirit.

Is it good to have idols of faith and spirit? It is wonderful! Without idols for our faith and spirit, life would be terrible. Many Christians claim they do not worship idols. However, if you tear up pictures of their parents and step on them, they would hardly remain impassive. They perceive the pictures to be more than just a piece of paper. It is an embodiment of their parents.

We should have idols to emulate and respect. Since ancient times, saints and sages with good morals and capabilities who made great contributions toward humanity have been idolized. Children often consider their parents and teachers their idols. Idols play an important role in our lives.