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Thread: enjoy the show or how to learn from what is fake

  1. #1

    enjoy the show or how to learn from what is fake

    The BBC.

    Great institution. Wonderful documentaries.
    Sorry, I could not resist it. This is so cheap, so fake ,so staged, so false, so stupid, so wrong...that it becomes so inspiring.
    All the cliches, the Oxford empty professor with his empty mind, the great stupas and Zen alive in Hong Kong, the would be monks sitting under nets to avoid insects, the water bowl meditation when they avoid rain the head protected by plastic condoms in order to achieve empty mind and bring a bowl without letting a single drop out ...
    A journalist drunk with her own voice who speaks Bullshit nonstop.
    and of course, the biggest achievements of all, the Big Buildings and golden statues.
    all of this around a single tooth...


    Had a good laugh. Hope you will. And even if some good guys get caugh in this parody like R. Thurman, well , it is a real feast of stupidity.




  2. #2
    Ah, that is Bettany Hughes. She is very good when it comes to Ancient Greek history but is not known as an expert on religious thought. I imagine this was an ill-conceived follow-up to her (much better) Seven Wonders of the Ancient World programme.

    Even the BBC has off days.


  3. #3

    one of my favourtie proverbs:
    "Cobbler, stick to your last!"


    Hans Chudo Mongen

  4. #4
    Very colorful and sparkly; thanks Taigu. Had a quick peek, will watch later. At
    tractive lady with soothing voice and pictures of sub-Asia.

    Sent from my Note 2 using Tapatalk4
    合掌 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way" URL=""][/URL]

  5. #5
    Wonderful Taigu, thank you ... am enjoying while I have my morning coffee. =)


    ** Now that I have finished my coffee and the video ... I always wonder what the intention is behind media and the glamorization of the content? I do have to say there was some beautiful imagery. =)

    Last edited by Mp; 11-28-2013 at 04:34 PM. Reason: update

  6. #6
    Thank you, Taigu, much appreciated


  7. #7
    Hmmm. I wonder if I would call this "so cheap, so fake ,so staged, so false, so stupid, so wrong". These kinds of worship and veneration are vital and important to so many Buddhists, and have been for centuries. From the earliest days of Buddhism, for example, stupas (not stupid ) have been places of worship and pilgrimage, as they still are for millions of folks today. I feel the documentary is a pretty good, realistic picture of how many people in Asia practice their Buddhism. Am I wrong?

    Worship of the relics of the Buddha, by both his lay followers and
    monks, has been a widespread feature of Buddhist devotional practice since
    very early times if not right from the day on which the Buddha died and was
    cremated (possibly in 483 B.C.). When the great Emperor Aśoka (ca. 269-232
    B.C.) embraced the Dharma, he built many stūpas all over his realm (the
    legend speaks of 84,000 of them) and enshrined in them splinters of relics
    from the original eight stūpas in which portions of the Buddha’s relics were
    supposedly placed after his cremation. Later, when relics were no longer
    available, manuscripts of sūtras were substituted indicating the presence of the
    Dharma and eventually stūpas came to be venerated as symbols of the
    presence of the Buddha or of the eternal Dharma even if they did not contain

    Most Zen folks like their pagodas and relics too.

    Gassho, J

    PS - Here is the mummy of the Sixth Ancestor Hui-Neng which Zen Folks have preserved (more or less in tact) for 1000 years and worshiped as a relic. I had the pleasure to see him when I sat a short Sesshin at the "Sixth Ancestor" temple in China a couple of years ago. Lots of "silly to somebody" stuff in Buddhism, but it means something to someone too.

    Last edited by Jundo; 11-28-2013 at 05:09 PM.

  8. #8
    Hi there - I've watched this documentary before and 'am half-way through watching it again.

    I can't see what's wrong with it - it's an historical take on Buddhism and I'd say fairly accurate - Buddhism with all the bling and ritual that's
    been erased by modernism and the West.

    Sure it has a strong Theravada/Tibetan flavour - but I found that interesting to compare with pared down Zen.

    I don't feel the presenter is talking bullshit - she has quite a calm manner and is clearly interested in what she's presenting. She also admits that she doesn't feel all the opulence reflects the 'middle path'.

    As for the Oxford professor - he's not pretending to be anything other than an academic historian - and just seems a bit tense and awkward speaking on camera.

    Perhaps I'm missing something but the programme seemed to stay within it's remit. 'Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World' is exactly what we were shown and these places are sacred to many whether we credit it or not.


    Last edited by Jinyo; 11-28-2013 at 09:19 PM.

  9. #9
    Just a bit of Trivia, but I have located one purported tooth and some ashes from the Buddha, each at two Stupa within 20 minutes in opposite directions by car from Treeleaf Tsukuba.

    The one that touches me most is this, which I stumbled into (literally) on a hike just a few weeks ago. It is a Burmese Pagoda in the next town, Ishige, built by some local businessmen to memorialize all the young men of Ishige who died in Burma in WWII. What is most impressive is the number written on the monument: Of the 138 young boys sent to war in Burma from Ishige, 110 died, and of the returnees, all but 6 were wounded. It is based on Buddhist Pagoda in Burma, and a famous Burmese temple sent along some of what purports to be the Buddha's cremation ashes to enclose in the tower. It is now a Japan-Burma Peace symbol.

    I sometimes joke that, with all the hundreds of purported "teeth of the Buddha" that one finds all across Asia, he must have had quite a smile!

    At Treeleaf Tsukuba we happen to have a pagoda in the garden that contains a leaf from the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha is said to have been Enlightened in India. A friend gave the leaf (THE Treeleaf! ) to me when I was in China. We sat our weekly Zazenkai there a few weeks ago, when the weather was warm.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-29-2013 at 08:38 PM.

  10. #10
    Too much world-beat guff at the intro.. did not watch much. I've watched her narrate some ancient history shows. Kinda had a crush on her.


  11. #11
    Taigu, Jundo,
    If you ever have a tooth pulled at the dentists, keep it. After you're both gone we could use it...

    ...enjoyed the film. Thanks.


  12. #12
    Screen Shot 2013-11-28 at 3.10.15 PM.jpg

    some portions of the middle way are better carpeted than others!


    and neither are they otherwise.

  13. #13
    You are right Jundo it is a fair picture of Asian worship. But that was not my point.

    It boils down to ability to analyse and identify cliche, rhetorics, deconstruct fake narratives and see through multiple layers of an illusion: religion as a way to control masses, concentrate wealth and worship gold and gods, to offer fear and hope; cheap journalism as a way to play with the expected, throw a bit of glamour for good measure, and choose words that are just picked up to make the viewer happy, would be specialist talking nonsense because they have to put in a nutshell what would take a bit longer and also because some of them are just plain ignorant ( Oxford won't save the day), music and the way it is cut ( just watch this eyes closed, you will see), the whole show is poorly documented an appeals to a audience keen on glittering and shining bedtime stories. Yes, popular religion, if Dogen wanted that he would have stayed on Mount Hei. And throw the last and even harder layer of this has been scholar and University lecturer, a French arrogant frog, namely Pierre Turlur, my other name, whose job is to understand and study literature, language and philosophy.

    Seven Wonders of Buddhism? As I was walking in the cool morning Osaka made of steels and crowds moving, I was contemplating how I am moved by mountains, high towers and simple things, not at all moved by temples, cathedrals or places of worship, in love with the ineffable and formless which freely flows beyond power games and institutions. In this you have it all: the brick and mortar of belief systems, the grip of would be science, the media staging and wrapping it up. Spiritual materialism .

    But of course, you might pick up an ice cream and enjoy a walk in Buddhadisneyland...

    I don't.
    Last edited by Taigu; 11-28-2013 at 10:25 PM.

  14. #14
    Thank you for this piss and vinegar, Taigu!


  15. #15

    Many intellectuals (such as your fellow countryman and Zen Historian Bernard Faure) have pointed out that, in a sense, Buddhism since the beginning, Zen ... even Dogen ... were dependent on "cheap shows", song and dance, tacky art, packaging and simplified messaging in order to get the "real messages" across. What matters is that some people will then be attracted to delve deeper, while other people need the simplified messaging as the best way they can relate and approach some pretty difficult stuff. It is really the same for all religions.

    In a sense, that is the meaning of any colorful and dramatic Buddhist art ...

    Something like the "Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch" is a work of fiction never actually spoken by the "Sixth Zen Patriarch Hui-Neng" (himself half a work of fiction), gradually made more elaborate and fantastic over time in its retelling with ever more magical drama added, itself containing descriptions of rather corny scenes in which great drama is played out in unbelievable ways ...

    In front of the monastery’s [Buddha] hall was a deep pool, where a dragon constantly went in and out, deforming the trees. One day he manifested a form that was extremely large, roiling up waves and obscuring [the sky with] clouds and mists. [Sixth Patriarch Huineng’s] followers were all afraid, but the master scolded [the dragon], “You’re only able to manifest a large body—you can’t manifest a small body. If you were a divine dragon, your abilities at transformation would include the manifestation of the large with the small and the manifestation of the small with the large!” The dragon suddenly disappeared and then instantly reappeared in a small body, jumping around the surface of the pool. The master held out his bowl, testing [the dragon] by saying, “But I’ll bet you don’t dare enter this old monk’s bowl!” The dragon then swam up in front of him, and the master scooped him up in the bowl. The dragon could not move. The master carried the bowl to the [monks’] hall and preached the Dharma for the dragon, who then shed his skeleton and went away. His skeleton is about seven inches long and was complete with head and tail, horns and feet. It is kept at the monastery. The master later had the pool filled up with earth and rocks. The iron stupa that now exists in front of the hall on the left side guards the location.
    Pixar Animation or Steven Spielberg could not cook up a better scene. The Lotus and most of the Mahayana Sutras are much the same.

    In a sense, the inside of any Zen Temple is a riot of colors and gold and costumes to put on a kind of show for the senses ... and that was as true for Dogen as for the BBC. What matters is how one views the spectacle with Wisdom, not being taken in simply by the surface. At the same time, Dogen and Keizan and many folks put on these shows to communicate something to folks who had no real interest or ability to "go beyond the surface." Rituals such as "Tendoku" readings of the Sutra existed in Dogen's time as they do now ... and must have been very impressive to folks who could only get into their heads that "some kind of merit was being earned by my making a donation to the Temple to have all these monks wave these pages around" ... Dogen, part P.T Barnum of his day ... (from the 9:00 mark here, recorded at one of the Soto head temples in Japan) ... a great Fancy Dance Show ...

    The "tendoku" ritual reading of the 600-fascicle Large Prajña Paramita Sutra involves shouting the title and volume number of the Sutra, then quickly flipping through the Sutra book itself, a rather esoteric way of reading the entire Sutra much as Tibetans turn their "Prayer Wheels".

    When Dogen told a little personal story in the Shobogenzo, he sometimes knew how to spice it up ... and had a sense for how a Zen Master sometimes needs a bit of "Sacred Theatre" to get a good message across ...

    Dogen relates how his Chinese mentor Ju-ching, who was once asked to read a lengthy sutra and deliver a sermon, drew a big circle in the air with his fly whisk and said, ‘‘Now I have read it for you!’’ Then he cast away the fly whisk and descended from the dais.

    We also have the recent Dogen biopic movie in which they took a little pudgy guy who looked like this (already somewhat idealized in the portrait because it is an artist's portrait) ...

    ... and turned him into a handsome actor like this ...

    So, in a sense there would be no "Buddhism" ... no "Zen" ... today without a lot of bad art, corny narration, stereotyped and idealized romantic images and gold dipped Buddha statues. All Painted Rice Cakes.

    I hope that, as Taigu cautions, we also learn to laugh and see through all that cliche, rhetoric, and fake narrative too ... to the True Gold.

    I sometimes joke that if Taigu and me were handsomer, with smoother moves and charming banter without all the "piss and vinegar" ... we would get a lot more folks interested in Zen!

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-29-2013 at 04:45 AM.

  16. #16
    By the way, as anyone around here knows, I don't mind a bit of cheap show to get some Dharma across ...

    Of course, we don't have much of a budget for special effects and good editing, so it can all be pretty chintzy.

    Sometimes it may go too far ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-29-2013 at 04:51 AM.

  17. #17
    Just to say I don't much like all the gold and bling - much prefer the natural world - but the gold and bling exists and to my mind that's all the programme is showing.

    Sure there is a meta-narrative there to be deconstructed but in common parlance these sites of 'architectural' or sheer spectacle significance are referred to as 'The Seven Wonders'. That doesn't mean that a person applying that label believes in their heart they are true spiritual wonders of buddhism.

    But - as Jundo says - for some worshippers perhaps they are.

    ... and maybe it's possible to buy an ice-cream - walk through disneybuddhaland - and deconstruct thousands of years of culture/belief/and practice all at the same time.

    I'd like to think the average TV audience are not so naive that they can't work it out.


    Last edited by Jinyo; 11-29-2013 at 07:19 AM.

  18. #18
    No dear Willow, no Bro,
    But that s enough for today.



  19. #19
    Hi all

    I think it would be a mistake to judge this programme as a study of religion rather than the majestic buildings and art inspired by religious devotion. As with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and the other world faiths, Buddhists have seen creating sculpture and temples as part of their religious practice, making the unseen visible. Who among us does not have a Buddhist image or representation somewhere in our house to inspire our practice and remind us of why we are practicing?

    Whether or not the programme did a decent job of presenting the nature of Buddhist thought is quite another matter but I suspect that was an add-on to the main aim of presenting the artistic treasures of Buddhist countries that have been produced. So, perhaps more useful to the art historian than the Buddhist or Buddhist scholar, and a testimony to human creativity rather than spiritual development. For us, the seven wonders of the Buddhist world may be more likely to be people or texts. For the non-Buddhist majority audience, the beautiful stupas and temples will probably be of far greater interest.


  20. #20
    Thank you.

    "Recognize suffering, remove suffering." - Shakyamuni Buddha when asked, "Uhm . . .what?"

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Taigu View Post
    No dear Willow, no Bro,
    But that s enough for today.


    agreed Taigu - silence ..... the only thing that is truly golden.

    Deep bows,


  22. #22
    May Buddha help us when you get a bidget [scary] Seriously tho, I was told I read ALL THE SUTRAS When I pushed the lazy susan containg a huge ount of volumes in the pagoda at Narita-san. Also, we enjoyed visiting many temples, gaudy and auster, from Sendai to Fukuoka, ringing temple bells, ; tying paper fortunes too tree branches, buying trinkets and gauking at the opulence. Hey, you attract more flys to honey than vinegar. And like someone we know says, "Its all good!"
    Thank you Taigu and all for this thread
    gassho, Shokai

    Sent from my Note 2 using Tapatalk4
    合掌 - gassho, Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way" URL=""][/URL]

  23. #23
    I too have visited many sacred Buddhist sites and temples, from caves and golden buddhas in Thailand to huge carved statues in mountainsides and stupas with relics in China. They are in beautiful places, and look and feel amazing. But they are not what I find when I sit. Gassho.
    Heisoku 平 息
    Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. (Basho)

  24. #24
    There's a secret they don't want you to know.
    If you stare at the nice places long enough,
    You'll see there, too,
    The body of the buddha,
    Smiling at stray dogs mating

    Gassho, Ben

  25. #25
    Enjoyed the tour of the 7 'wonders' of Buddhism. Not havng any plans to go to these 7 places, this will suffice. The real buddhism was in the interviews with the buddhist nun in katmandu and the zen teacher in Hong Kong. Bettany Hughs is over the top in trying to create drama and excitemment.
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  26. #26
    I thank Jundo for the "cute" video with the blender. You never know what the next lesson needs to be for the other guy, or for myself. I showed the blender video to my friend, who maybe got a little better idea about what zen is. We had a good chuckle, laughter as medicine.
    _/\_ Shinzan

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