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Lions Roar : September 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2008 99 FOR ALL YO U DEATHMETAL FANS For countless Buddhists, there is nothing more exciting than the release of new music from their favorite death- metal band. OK, perhaps “countless” is a bit of an exaggera- tion, but there are actually more than a couple of us who’ve been not-so -patiently awaiting the new album from Portugal’s The Firstborn. You may remember learning of the band’s last record, The Unclenching of Fists (based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead), in the first appearance of this column in September ’07. Now The Firstborn is back with The Noble Search, which takes its lyrical cues from Buddhist scripture. Maybe the music isn’t for you, but the words just may be. (“Hark, stream-enterer! / Destroy the seeds for future birth / In the three lower realms. / Now, your mind is made of clear light...”) Decide for yourself at www.myspace. com/unclenchedfists. DHARMIX R O UNDUP Poor Deepak Chopra. For all of his fame and fortune, he seems to have a lot of detractors in the otherwise often- innovative dharma world. His recent fictionalized biogra- phy, Buddha, seems to be a lightning rod for criticism, and his turn as advisor for Mike Myers’ new “dharma teacher” farce, The Love Guru, can’t be help- ing. And now old D.C . has, with a staff that includes his son and financial backing from Sir Richard Branson, stepped into the comic book business. In addition to the gustily named “India Authentic” (a line of comics derived from Indian mythology), he’s now published the first couple of issues of a Buddha comic. Does Chopra take liberties with the source material—the legend of the Buddha’s birth, life, and death? Sure, that’s a given. And there’s something unsettlingly gutsy about the comic book’s full title: Deepak Chopra’s Buddha TM: A Story of Enlightenment. I admit that the wag in me wouldn’t mind telling you how irre- deemably awful Buddha is, but I just can’t. It is, so far, beautiful and surprising—as legitimate dharma so often can be. Another excellent “Dharmix” entry from an unlikely source is The White Lama, written by renegade filmmaker Alexandro Jodorowsky (El Topo; Holy Mountain). This incredibly lavish and complex comic tells of “Gabriel, the child of white explorers raised by [Ti- betan] natives after his parents’ deaths.” As the reincarna- tion of the local school’s Grand Lama, Gabriel must face and undo the deceit and corruption that have overtaken his monastery home and realize his destiny as a spiri- tual leader. The White Lama is a fantastically illustrated mindbender complete with tales of great aspiration, awakenings, foul play, and—yes!—yetis. Unfortunately, with several volumes published at around twenty bucks a pop, I’m tempted to just wait and see if Jodorowsky will turn his “orphaned wrong-righter” saga into the best comic-book-to-film adaptation ever made. The studio pitch would be an absolute no-brainer: “Think Tibetan Batman Begins.” PRAY FOR TREATS No single item has caused as unmanageable a flood to my in-box at Worsthorse.net as the story and photos of “Conan, the Zen Chihuahua.” This little guy, the mascot of Japanese monks in a temple on the island of Oki- nawa, appears to be as selfless as most of us would like to be. But is Conan in reality just an extra-hairy spir- itual materialist, going through the motions? As a temple priest, Joei Yoshikuni, explains, “He started to pose in prayer like us whenever he wanted treats.” Tourist visits to the temple have increased by thirty percent since, and now Conan just might have to learn a new trick to keep his numbers up: to sit in meditation. Only, as Yoshikuni admits, “It’s not like we can make him cross his legs.” You’ll have to make up your own “dog/buddhanature” joke. I’m fresh out. FOR A For coun py w t an tri On mak your ’t but tiful ate nother excellent “Dharmix” “BUDDHA”©VIRGINCOMICSLLC. SEPT 80-99.indd 99 SEPT 80-99.indd 99 7/3/08 1:35:10 PM 7/3/08 1:35:10 PM