Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buddha's Brassieres

Siddhartha Gautama was a member of a wealthy royal family in India. At one point in his life, he found a poor man, a sick man and a dead man laying next to a road. This led Siddhartha to ponder on life and death. He abandoned his life of wealth, secluding himself in the woods devoted to a life of poverty trying to come to terms with life's conditions. After a while he realized that it is not wealth nor poverty that can lead to a happy life, and he devised a golden way, in the middle of all extremes. It is also said that he realized that to live is to suffer and that this suffering is increased by being attached to things. This man is more popularly known as Buddha.

This is the short short version, based on what I remember reading about it. There is more to say about it of course. The story struck me as intriguing, I must admit. I felt it was a brutally honest story in a way, placing death and suffering center stage on the theater of life. It is for this reason then, that I wonder: What the hell is Buddha doing in a lingerie shop?

I passed this store up and couldn't help but think: Buddha, what are you doing in there? How did you get there? Now I don't like contrasting "true" Buddhism to "false" Buddhism, I just think there are a lot of Buddhisms out there, just like with all other religions. But, judging from the popular story above about the life of Buddha, I really wonder why a lingerie store would want him prominently featured in their display. What could have made them choose to do this? Buddha is a popular boy anyway. When I walked around in a popular neighborhood and I sort of casually tallied Buddhas vs. Jesuses, Buddha won by a landslide! But why? What do people want to express when they put a Buddha statue in their windowsill or in their display? That they associate with spirituality but not necessarily with tradition? That they are "thinking outside the box" because of this? That they value peace, a value attributed to Buddha, or that you will feel relaxed like Buddha the moment you put on one of their bras? That acknowledging the centrality of death and suffering to life is no reason not to still look just absolutely smashing and gorgeous? I don't know about the truth of any miracles that are attributed to him but appearing next to a decapitated mannequin with no limbs and just some undies on is quite a miracle he pulled off indeed!

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