Stream of Consciousness: Hello, Dalai!

13 Jul

Strange bedfellows? Not if you can read the dialogue.

The Dalai Lama visited DC last week. I know because my yoga studio sent out an email encouraging me to attend his peace rally on the Mall.

And because the Whole Foods was teeming with people wearing saffron robes and sporting shaved heads Thursday night. Apparently — and don’t spread this around — Buddhists like to… Eat. Normal. Food.

Stop looking at me like that! I hadn’t given it much thought, but when I saw a couple of monks debating between bean burritos and a five layer dip, it struck me as odd. And then I forced myself to articulate what I thought their diet consisted of, and I could only come up with “grains.”

Woof. I am showing you my underbelly of ignorance here, people! This is me, trusting YOU.

While I’m at it, let me go Full Monty and share the extent of my ignorance with you. Here’s an ugly glimpse inside my head, while shopping at Whole Foods on Thursday:

Hmmm… gender neutral outfit.
I wonder if it’s comfortable.
How about that hair? 
I want to touch their heads.
They look soft.
What are they buying?
Bean quesadillas. 
Are all Buddhists vegetarians?
They don’t harm animals, right?
I’m pretty sure they won’t kill mosquitos.
I guess that means I’m out.
Interesting that they’re shopping at Whole Foods.
I thought they took a vow of poverty.
Maybe shopping at Whole Foods is how they give up their money?
Wait. I don’t think Buddhists take a poverty vow. That’s monks. 
Are these people monks? 
I’m pretty sure ALL Buddhists don’t wear this outfit. 
I wonder if they’re a couple.
Or just a couple of monks.
Can monks couple?
Can women be monks?
If so, Buddhism is even more bad-ass than I realized.
I wonder if they live in DC, or if they traveled here just to see the Dalai Lama.
Dalai Lama is like Bono for Buddhists. 
I wonder how long this Dalai Lama has been the Dalai Lama.
Wouldn’t it be funny if his real name had been George before he became the Dalai Lama? 
I wonder if Bono was named Bono before U2.
So much I don’t know.
Baguettes are on sale!

And now, for your edification and mine, the FACTS (disclaimer: as presented by the internet) as well as my analysis of Buddhism as a potential religion for me:

  • Vegetarians? Nope. Not all of them, though apparently many lose their taste for meat out of compassion. (+2 points for allowing me to still eat meat – I love bacon) 
  • Women monks? Nope. They’re nuns. But I think they dress the same. And the Dalai Lama has suggested that the next Dalai could be a woman. (+1 point for being open to women leadership, -1 point for not having shattered the ceiling yet)
  • Robes? Didn’t learn if it’s a unisex uniform, but I did learn that the original monks could only use “pure cloth” (defined as “…chewed by rats or oxen… soiled by childbirth or menstrual blood… or used as a shroud to wrap the dead…) to sew them. Apparently that has been discontinued. (Even so: +1 point for not making me dress up – even if a rat chewed it, I prefer biz casual) 
  • Can monks marry? Generally, no. Apparently in Japan they can, after receiving their higher ordination, though it’s considered somewhat rare.  (+1 point because people would stop asking me when I’m going to get married)
  • Poverty vows? I’m not sure about poverty, but apparently it was somewhat unusual to see them in Whole Foods. According to Wikipedia, “…monastics may eat only one meal a day, provided either by direct donations… or from a monastery kitchen that is stocked… by lay supporters.”  (-10 points because I usually eat 7-9 small meals each day)
  • Dalai Lama’s Name? Turns out it’s Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. Unfortunately, he didn’t get tapped to be the Dalai Lama until he was 15, which means he probably had to learn to write that whole thing in cursive. Poor kid. (+1 point because “Jetsun” is a pretty awesome name for 1935. Very forward-thinking.)

Total score = -4

Turns out I’m not Buddhist material. But with a goal like Peace, I’ll gladly support the cause. Because this world could certainly benefit from a lot more loving kindness and respect for all living creatures. (Except the especially dumb ones.)

And for what it’s worth? Turns out Bono is 25 years younger than the Dalai Lama, and his given name is Paul David Hewson. Which is about as sexy as a door knob.

The lesson? It is always cooler to shorten your name, whether you’re the Dalai Lama, Bono, Cher or Madonna.

Because it all boils down to marketing.

9 Responses to “Stream of Consciousness: Hello, Dalai!”

  1. popdialectic July 13, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    Between your guess and his real name, I keep thinking about all the little monks and singing to myself, “Meet George/Jetsun.”

  2. Gwen Hernandez July 13, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I love your stream of consciousness while in Whole Foods. Now I need to think of a good short name…

  3. bonnie July 13, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Isn’t our life now wonderful that when we come up with so many questions, we can get such a large percentage answered so quickly! I loved your + and – points, but would add a big plus for having nine lives to get things right.

    • pithypants July 13, 2011 at 11:07 am #

      Doh! I forgot about the nine lives. And that means I could come back as a cockroach, so I could potentially be immortal!

  4. Kim Pugliano July 13, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    My full name is Kimberly, but most people just call me Kim. From now on, I will officially be known as Ki (with a short i).

  5. Lorna's Voice July 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Loved the post (as usual). I’m Buddhist and found it very entertaining.

    • pithypants July 13, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Whew! I’m glad you found it funny! I was wondering how it would sit with more spiritual folks, and was hoping I hadn’t offended anyone — especially since the Buddhist/Hindu teachings that influence yoga are more my cup of tea than Western religious philosophy. Thanks for the affirmation. 🙂

  6. Karen July 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    I used to live near a Buddhist Center. It seemed very nice and I always wanted to stop by but didn’t. Once a year they would decorate it up with a huge statue and pretty flowers and things and celebrate….something. This year they had an honored overseas guest–again I’m hazy on the details–so the celebration was bigger than ever and lasted all weekend. Seemed awesome to me. Not so much to a closer neighbor whose call I got at 911 complaining about the “chanting disturbing the peace” and wanting the police over to shut it down. Seriously?? You’re irate and calling the police over Buddhists? Time for life reevaluation sir!

    • pithypants July 18, 2011 at 8:24 am #

      Seriously. Next he’ll report the Girl Scouts for soliciting.

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