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Lions Roar : November 2018
experimented with mind expansion: yes, there is (hilariously) “reefer” use, but it goes way beyond that. Founding agency partner Roger Sterling Jr. has an enlightenment experience after he and some other well-to-do Manhattanites turn on at an LSD session complete with a Tibetan Book of the Dead-quoting guide. Copywriter Paul Kinsey joins the Hare Krishnas. And Don Draper finds himself shocked into silence when he real- izes that the mocked-up ad he’s just pitched to a client actually seems to portray a suicide, or a death wish, or at the very least some kind of leaving behind of a self. There’s no other visible “benefit” present in the ad. Before its famous closing scene, the finale delivers another of Mad Men’s most stunning moments. Don, who’s reluctantly joined a talk therapy session, listens as a fellow attendee named Leonard speaks about his own feelings of emptiness and alone- ness. Moved by Leonard’s vulnerability—and the way he gives voice to something that Don has perhaps never consciously recognized in himself before—Don drops the “Don Draper” persona and embraces Leonard, sobbing. It’s another depiction of a self left behind, a mind expanding. And a heart expanding, too. We’re left to wonder if it will stick, or if Don will one day say about his time on retreat what Roger Sterling had to eventually admit about his acid-induced bodhi experience: “It wore off.” ROD MEADE SPERRY is editorial director of Lion’s Roar’s Special Projects and LionsRoar.com. Parts Unknown SETH GREENLAND remembers Anthony Bourdain, who showed us our common humanity. ANTHONY BOURDAIN was a stranger to the medi- tation cushion, but his delightful, brilliant, and eye- opening CNN show Parts Unknown subtly conveyed several Buddhist themes. Although Bourdain has been famous for nearly two decades, among his legion of fans I am a recent arrival. For a long time, he was one of the prime exemplars of the celebrity chef culture and, not being much of a foodie, this was uninteresting to me. But finding myself missing Vietnam after a recent trip there, I booted up Netflix, located the Parts Unknown episode that takes place in Hanoi, pressed play, and was instantly hooked. Speaking of hooked, in his twenties Bourdain was a heroin addict. No one becomes addicted to opiates because they’re happy. That he had a base level of ineradicable anguish sadly became clear to the world when he committed suicide in June. But he fought his demons with the intensity of a thousand suns. A key way he fought them was with his show, which took him all over the world. One of the precepts of Buddhist thought that most resonates with me is the idea of the open heart, one that is vulnerable to experience, to people, to life. It is the opposite of the ignorance and hard-heartedness that are now burgeoning to an unfore- seen degree. Parts Unknown provided an antidote to this new and dark reality in which we find ourselves. In a typical episode, Bour- dain and his crew travelled to Madagascar or Burma or the Congo, places the average tourist might not visit. Once there he penetrated as deeply into the culture as is possible for some- one being trailed by a television crew. He chinwagged with the locals, sat with them and savored their food, searched for the common humanity. Some of the countries he visited were economic and political basket cases. By shining the light of his fame on these places, he reminded his Western viewers that they exist and that real people live in them. The unmistakable subtext of these encoun- ters is the Buddhist concept of interconnectedness. What makes his suicide so shattering is that so many people viewed Bourdain as a personal avatar, a guy who got to travel the world, have all kinds of adventures, and share delicious meals with people he’d never seen before. His pain was terrible to behold, but his inspiration remains an enduring gift. SETH GREENLAND was a writer/producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love and is the author of Bones, a novel about the world of television comedy.