Buddhist Meditations
Zens & zensibility
by Grossberger, Lewis
19/07/2010 19:35 (GMT+7)
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Zens & zensibility

by Grossberger, Lewis


Vol. 7 No. 38 10/13/97


Copyright by MediaWeek



Section: Media Person

Forget promise keepers. Promise keepers are over. No real staying power.
Promise Keepers had their week in the media and went home. Let's just hope
they keep their promises and stay there. (Their fatal problem: No celebrity
PKs! Plus the membership is desperately uncool. Homer Simpson would join
the Promise Keepers, not the guys on Friends.) No big loss, because a much
sexier religious trend was waiting for its turn in the spotlight: the
Buddhists! Buddhism has everything: star power, occult mysteries, bald
gurus, fortuitous connection to a colorful land of suffering under the
boot-heel of a ruthless oppressor and ritual chanting easily adaptable to
Western rhythms. Bu-ddha! Bu-ddha! Bu-ddha! That is why Buddhism is on the
cover of Time (actually, Brad Pitt is, but in his latest movie he plays a
guy who meets a Buddhist) and the Unitarians aren't.

Many readers have long suspected that Media Person is a Buddhist monk.
Wise, inscrutable, with an air of mystical holiness, yet given to
mischievous pranks such as suddenly shouting, "Shut up, fool!," MP sits
serenely on his sofahh (couch) in a position best described as a cross
between the lotus and the fetal, making cryptic pronouncements on the
television programs passing before him. To many, he appears to be the
living reincarnation of a two-toed tree sloth. To others, he is just a
simple man who, having stripped away all worldly goods and desires and,
subsisting solely on The New York Times and Seinfeld, has managed to
achieve a higher plane of consciousness known as Napvana (pronounced
napvana) which, to the uninitiated, is indistinguishable from sleeping but,
when accomplished by a master like Media Person, is profoundly
transcendental, even though while in it he occasionally drools.

But this, like everything else--including you--is mere illusion. The real
Media Person, like the Internal Revenue Service, is unknowable.

Buddhism's easy to know, though, at least in a shallow, totally superficial
sense, which is fortunately the only sense any of us care about over on
this side of the Himalayas. Skim the next few paragraphs and you'll be able
to chime in brightly whenever the subject arises in conversation, as it
almost certainly will for at least another two weeks.

Basic Vocabulary: Pepper your conversation with these key Buddhist
expressions and people will think you're one hot lama. Dharma: A delicious
Buddhist snack of hot rice, walnut paste and yak butter wrapped in thin
rolled pastry. Karma: The influence of an individual's past actions on his
or her future lives. Example of usage: "You got such bad karma you ain't
gettin' a bite of my dharma." Zen: A general compliment in use in this
country since 1961, when it replaced "existential." Example of usage:
"That's very zen, man, but don't do it again." Koan: A Buddhist joke.
Example: Guy walks into a bar, says to the bartender, "What is the sound of
one hand clapping?" Bartender says, "I don't know." Guy says, "Aha, having
admitted that, you are on the road to enlightenment, my friend! Now how
about a free beer?" Bartender kicks his ass into the street, says, "Now
you're on the road to enlightenment!" (This always gets a big yuk at any
Buddhist monastery.) Sunyata: Emptiness. The feeling you get when nobody
laughs at your koan.

Celebuddhists: Top of the totem pole is Mr. Big himself, the Dalai Lama,
awesome but affable, hipper than the Pope, even deep- er than Ted Koppel,
yet able to banter with Jay Leno. Exiled from his native land but unbowed,
he's an inspiration to all. Anything happens to this spiritual dude, not
only is Elton John singing at his funeral, but two of the three remaining
Beatles as well. Never far from his side is No. 2 Buddhist Richard Gere,
known to believers as The Anti-Heston and available for photo ops against a
dramatic background of Himalayan peaks. (Please, no autographs while he's
meditating.) Fastest-rising Buddhist rookie: Stephen Seagal, scowling
Buddhist avenger, recently recognized by Buddhist holy men as the
reincarnation of Victor Mature. Seagal proves that you can tread the lotus
path without having to give up worldly practices such as breaking people's
arms at random. Not yet a Buddhist: Parker Posey, named America's most
famous unknown movie star by New York magazine three weeks ago; however, a
team of monks and Hollywood publicity men are negotiating the deal as MP
writes this.

Buddhist Concepts (optional reading): Essentially, Buddhism is karma and
the awareness and transformation of the mind. It is the understanding of
The Four Noble Truths which, of course, we don't have the space to go into
here, and the concept of Emptiness, which can best be explained as follows:
Say you are stranded in the Sahara Desert with no entertainment whatever
and your only companion is Tony Danza. Now you know the true meaning of

In closing, Media Person reminds you that Buddhism is a great, noble
philosophy that has inspired multitudes over thousands of years and whose
future depends mainly on how that Brad Pitt picture grosses in its first

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