Section: Media Person
Forget promise keepers. Promise keepers are over. No real
staying power. Promise Keepers had their week in the media and went home. Let's
just hope they keep their promises and stay there. (Their fatal problem: No
celebrity PKs! Plus the membership is desperately uncool. Homer Simpson would
join the Promise Keepers, not the guys on Friends.) No big loss, because a much
sexier religious trend was waiting for its turn in the spotlight: the Buddhists!
Buddhism has everything: star power, occult mysteries, bald gurus, fortuitous
connection to a colorful land of suffering under the boot-heel of a ruthless
oppressor and ritual chanting easily adaptable to Western rhythms. Bu-ddha!
Bu-ddha! Bu-ddha! That is why Buddhism is on the cover of Time (actually, Brad
Pitt is, but in his latest movie he plays a guy who meets a Buddhist) and the
Many readers have long suspected that Media Person is a
Buddhist monk. Wise, inscrutable, with an air of mystical holiness, yet given
to mischievous pranks such as suddenly shouting, "Shut up, fool!," MP
serenely on his sofahh (couch) in a position best
described as a cross between the lotus and the fetal, making cryptic
pronouncements on the television programs passing before him. To many, he
appears to be the living reincarnation of a two-toed tree sloth. To others, he
is just a simple man who, having stripped away all worldly goods and desires
and, subsisting solely on The New York Times and Seinfeld, has managed to achieve
a higher plane of consciousness known as Napvana (pronounced napvana) which, to
the uninitiated, is indistinguishable from sleeping but, when accomplished by a
master like Media Person, is profoundly transcendental, even though while in it
he occasionally drools.
But this, like everything else--including you--is mere
illusion. The real Media Person, like the Internal Revenue Service, is
Buddhism's easy to know, though, at least in a shallow,
totally superficial sense, which is fortunately the only sense any of us care
about over on this side of the Himalayas. Skim
the next few paragraphs and you'll be able to chime in brightly whenever the
subject arises in conversation, as it almost certainly will for at least
another two weeks.
Basic Vocabulary: Pepper your conversation with these key
Buddhist expressions and people will think you're one hot lama. Dharma: A
delicious Buddhist snack of hot rice, walnut paste and yak butter wrapped in
thin rolled pastry. Karma: The influence of an individual's past actions on his
or her future lives. Example of usage: "You got such bad karma you ain't gettin'
a bite of my dharma." Zen: A general compliment in use in this country
since 1961, when it replaced "existential." Example of usage: "That's
very zen, man, but don't do it again." Koan: A Buddhist joke.
Example: Guy walks into a bar, says to the bartender,
"What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Bartender says, "I
don't know." Guy says, "Aha, having admitted that, you are on the
road to enlightenment, my friend! Now how about a free beer?" Bartender
kicks his ass into the street, says, "Now you're on the road to
enlightenment!" (This always gets a big yuk at any Buddhist monastery.)
Sunyata: Emptiness. The feeling you get when nobody laughs at your koan.
Celebuddhists: Top of the totem pole is Mr. Big himself,
the Dalai Lama, awesome but affable, hipper than the Pope, even deep- er than
Ted Koppel, yet able to banter with Jay Leno. Exiled from his native land but
unbowed, he's an inspiration to all. Anything happens to this spiritual dude,
not only is Elton John singing at his funeral, but two of the three remaining Beatles
as well. Never far from his side is No. 2 Buddhist Richard Gere, known to
believers as The Anti-Heston and available for photo ops against a dramatic
background of Himalayan peaks. (Please, no autographs while he's meditating.)
Fastest-rising Buddhist rookie: Stephen Seagal, scowling Buddhist avenger,
recently recognized by Buddhist holy men as the reincarnation of Victor Mature.
Seagal proves that you can tread the lotus path without having to give up
worldly practices such as breaking people's arms at random. Not yet a Buddhist:
Parker Posey, named America's most famous unknown movie star by New York magazine
three weeks ago; however, a team of monks and Hollywood
publicity men are negotiating the deal as MP writes this.
Buddhist Concepts (optional reading): Essentially,
Buddhism is karma and the awareness and transformation of the mind. It is the
understanding of The Four Noble Truths which, of course, we don't have the
space to go into here, and the concept of Emptiness, which can best be
explained as follows: Say you are stranded in the Sahara Desert
with no entertainment whatever and your only companion is Tony Danza. Now you
know the true meaning of Emptiness.
In closing, Media Person reminds you that Buddhism is a
great, noble philosophy that has inspired multitudes over thousands of years
and whose future depends mainly on how that Brad Pitt picture grosses in its