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Lions Roar : March 2015
BODHI CHATTER Dharma, pop-culture, and good-natured gossip. Has Ken reached enlightenment? That’s what Argentine art-duo Marianela Perelli and Pool Paolini ask us to imagine with their render- ing of Barbie’s guy-friend as the historical Buddha—part of “Barbie: The Plastic Religion,” an exhibition that also includes depictions of Barbie as Hindu goddess Kali and the Virgin of Guadalupe. Has Ken taken a vow of celibacy? What does this mean for their relationship? • • • The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the 8th-century Buddhist text credited to Padmasambhava, has had its share of pop-culture moments: the Beatles sang of it on “Tomorrow Never Knows” in 1966, and in 2012 Mad Men paid $250,000 just to play that song and grab some of its lingering psychonautic cachet. Now the TBoTD is back again, thanks to multitalented musician Flying Lotus, aka Steve Ellison, whose aunt and uncle were none other than Alice and John Coltrane. FlyLo’s LP, You’re Dead! presents a journey through the bardos backed by a trippy, jazzy hip-hop soundtrack, with the likes of Snoop Dogg and Herbie Hancock joining in. • • • Speaking of Herbie Hancock, the jazz legend has followed up his stint as Harvard guest-teacher- of-Buddhism with the release of his memoir, Possibilities. It’s loaded with juicy music-industry anec- dotes, but just as noteworthy are his reflections on the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, which he took up in 1972 after seeing its effects on his bandmate, the bassist Buddy Williams. “Buddhism,” Hancock writes, “showed me how to turn adversity into opportunity.” • • • An initiative of the Dalai Lama Foundation, the Living History of the Dalai Lama aims to be a “compre- hensive online interactive history highlighting the Dalai Lama’s lifelong journey to advance the cause of world peace.” We think that’s a lovely idea—and the public clearly agrees: the Living History’s crowdfunding goal of $115,000 was easily met, with $11,000 in surplus funds also contributed. Check out DalaiLamaFoundation.org to learn more. This issue’s Dharma-Burger: The Buddha Bar What’s a Dharma-Burger? It’s any example of Buddhist thought or imagery being infused into advertising or marketing—and, therefore, pop/ mass-culture. These “Burgers” are often cheesy, piled high with dubiosity. But they can be tasty, too. To wit: The Buddha Bar, created by the odd, fun- loving people at The Unemployed Philosopher’s Guild (UPG), which sells a host of oddities including “EnlightenMints,” and “Freudian Slippers.” It’s tempting to write off the Buddha Bar as a light- weight cash-in. After all, there’s just a generic “fruit & nut bar” inside. Outside, though, is where the flavor is. As UPG’s Jay Stern (title: “Associate Phi- losopher”) told me, a lot of work goes into design- ing and factchecking the packaging of a product like the Buddha Bar. And it shows. Featured are a cut- out “on-the-go” Buddhist Shrine; two quizzes (“10 Characteristics of the Buddha,” one reads, “How many do YOU have?”), and playful breakdowns of Buddhist thought. “The 8-fold path leads to the end of suffering,” the packaging tells us. “The Buddha Bar provides essential vitamins and minerals to send you on your path, but when you’re finished eating, I’d think about getting on this. Seriously, the ‘end of suffering’ is not to be missed.” SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 18 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE