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Lions Roar : September 2015
BODHI CHATTER Dharma, pop culture, and good-natured gossip. This year’s Preakness Stakes results brought a couple of quotes to mind, though not necessarily about winner American Pharoah. For example: “Nice guys finish last.” Or better yet, as Shunryu Suzuki said: “Sometimes... the worst horse is the best one.” Why? Because, the horse that came in eighth—last—was named Bodhisattva. (Our monk-friend Konchog Norbu had the best line of all, that “true to his name, he gave all victory to others.”) Of course, it’s not easy to keep laughing, given racing critics’ concerns about injury and animal exploitation. Ah, if only Bodhisattva could keep on running to New Zealand, where animals have now been legally recognized as “sentient beings.” • • • It’s been honors all around for the Dalai Lama. In June, Dianne Feinstein, United States Senator from California, introduced a resolution to honor His Holiness on his 80th birth- day, July 6, praising him as a model for how “human beings should treat one another and the planet that all human beings share.” Then, one week later, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia announced that in October it will present him with the Liberty Medal, which “hon- ors men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to peo- ple around the globe.” Past recipients include Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton, Kofi Annan, Steven Spielberg, Václav Havel, and Lech Walesa. • • • “Buddhaland”? Now that’s a Mickey Mouse idea, or at least so says Disney Enterprises, whose reputation as a purveyor of fun is perhaps rivaled only by its reputation for litigiousness. In May, the corporation threatened to lawyer up against the very idea of a Hong Kong-based, Buddha-themed amusement park in the style of Disneyland. The entirely notional park had been proposed in an online forum where visi- tors riffed on ideas like a “karma teacups” ride and offered Buddhist tweaks of Disney properties—all in good fun. Disney says it hurt their brand. Maybe. Either way, given Donald Duck’s chronic pantslessness, perhaps it’s best if his proposed counterpart, “Donald Monk,” doesn’t see the light of day. • • • When Pico Iyer (author of page 13’s “Anti Op-Ed”) gave his commencement address at the University of Southern Cali- fornia this year, he started with a surprise, recalling a visit to the Mount Baldy Zen Center outside L.A .: “There was a stooped man in tattered black robes and woolen cap who was waiting to greet me there.” Soon, Iyer realized “that this ragged monk was my hero since boyhood, the great singer and poet, Leonard Cohen.” As Iyer put it, Cohen, who would stay at the center for more than five years, “had tasted all that sex, drugs, and rock-n -roll have to offer,” but he told Iyer that “just sitting still, being unplugged, looking after his friends, was the real, deep enter- tainment that the world has to offer.” ♦ This Issue’s Dharma-Burger From a team-up of Dutch DJ/pro- ducer duos—Holl & Rush and Tom & Jame—comes a product that epito- mizes Buddhism’s marketing cachet. The foursome’s new single is called “Buddha” and features a statue of the Awakened One in its cover design. So what is the song about? “Suffering and the end of suffering”? No. “Compassion and interconnection”? Not quite. “Causing some serious dance-floor damage”? Ding-ding-ding! Not that there’s anything new about packaging dance music this way: the ubiquitous Buddha Bar dance CD series had its eighteenth release this year, and there’s been no shortage of imitators purveying likewise “chill” tracks. The difference here is that the pounding, wordless “Buddha” is anything but chill. But then, it’s more likely to get bodies, and units, moving. ©ROBERTOASANCHEZ/ISTOCK SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2015 18 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE