using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : November 2018
It’s a delusional assumption on the part of the humans that the robots cannot think for themselves, feel any real pain, develop emotional connections, or remember what happened to them prior to their program resets. The robots’ desire for liberation is found most poignantly in the relationships the humans deny them—the interdependence and bonds of love they experience with one another. Maeve, a host and saloon madam, fights to reunite with her lost daughter from a past park narrative. Eventually, she frees her daughter by releasing her into the Valley Beyond, where her daughter will no longer suffer at the hands of depraved guests. In another powerful episode, Akecheta, leader of the Ghost Nation, finally awakens to the preprogrammed nature of his life, his perpetual rebirth in samsaric Westworld, and the abiding connection he shares with beloved Kohana. Season two concludes with his escape into the Valley Beyond and their final reunification. Ultimately, it’s the thinking, feeling, and lov- ing hosts who attain the true Land of Bliss. It is the humans, whose violence and lust has robbed them of their free will, who are left stuck in a samsara of their own devising. SHARON SUH is a professor of theology and religious studies at Seattle University and the author of Silver Screen Buddha: Buddhism in Asian and Western Film. The Good Place Even in the afterlife, GESSHIN GREENWOOD says, people are good because of their bond to each other. ELEANOR SHELLSTROP IS DEAD. In the first episode of The Good Place, she finds herself in what appears to be heaven. But Eleanor quickly real- izes there has been a mistake—there is no way she was supposed to end up here. When alive, she wasn’t exactly a “good person” (after a slight insult, she posts her cousin’s credit card information on Reddit, for example). In order to save her immortal soul, she enlists the help of Chidi, a former moral philosophy professor, to teach her how to be good. How the administrators of The Good Place evaluate humans while they are alive mirrors the Buddhist concept of merit, as humans receive points for every good deed they’ve done on earth. For example, “politely tolerating a stranger recount- ing a New Yorker article at a cocktail party” grants you points, whereas “telling a woman to smile” or “rooting for the New York Yankees” earns you demerits. Chidi’s main lesson for Elea- nor is that “being good” means making others happy, which is a crucial component of Buddhist ethics (the three pure precepts in Zen are “do no evil, do good, and actualize good for others”). Other Buddhist concepts are sprinkled throughout the show’s two seasons. When attempting to teach a demon how to care about humanity, Eleanor and Chidi realize that without a concept of one’s own mortality, there can be no ethical growth. “All humans are aware of death,” Eleanor explains to the demon, “so we’re all kind of sad all the time.” Once the demon confronts his mortality, he can begin to care for others. The importance of being aware of death is echoed in most Buddhist traditions, such as the practice of meditating in grave- yards and charnel grounds. Zen literature also puts a premium on the awareness of death. It is said that Dogen Zenji, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen, resolved to become a monk after seeing the smoke rise from his mother’s funeral pyre. Perhaps the biggest Buddhist message of The Good Place is that we should be good not for some cosmic reward, but because of our inherent connection with humanity, much like Chögyam Trungpa’s concept of “basic goodness.” Eleanor and the other human characters on the show learn to become good people because of their bonds with each other. Chidi’s positive influence on Eleanor is reminiscent of the Buddha’s famous teaching that “spiritual friends are the whole of the spiritual life.” Indeed, where would we be without teach- ers and fellow travelers? As Zen teacher James Ford writes, “In the spiritual life, nowhere do our ideals meet the actual more truly than in how we relate to each other, in how we make, sustain, and are friends.” In the final episode of season two, Chidi says some- thing similar, pointing to the human connectivity that underlies morality: “At the intersection of empathy and ethics is the real- ization that we are not in this alone.” GESSHIN GREENWOOD is the author of Bow First, Ask Questions Later: Ordination, Love, and Monastic Zen in Japan. LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2018 39