In his over-the-top “Sickest Buddhist” rap parody comedian Arj Barker of “Flight of the Conchords” and “Marijuana-Logues” fame portrays a Buddhist wannabe with an ego the size of Central Asia who joins classes to meet ladies but finds out that he can “kick ass at this pacifist shit.” One site offers a transcript of his lyrics:
Is it my Indian roots
My Guatemalan pair of shoes
My extensive collection of expensive Tibetan flutes
I don’t know how or why I’m so zen
I make the power of now look like the power of then
To hell with Dr Phil, Oprah and Martha
I chill with Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and Siddhartha
Buddha taught me to be humble and kind
But I’m so fuckin present I’m like ahead of my time
Enlightenment eludes most til they die
But i opened my third eye on my first try
Why? I don’t know I guess I’m just the bomb
When it comes to modesty I got it goin on
The rest of the lyrics are at YogaDork, a blog with a “Recession Yoga” section of links and “Yoga is my Bailout” tees. A commenter there identifies the setting for the music video as Spirit Rock meditation center in Marin County, California, the same area from where Barker hails. Though the site describes yoga and Buddhism as being comedy targets these days, I am more familiar with the lampooning of yoga, like the cheesy physical jokes in a movie trailer I saw this weekend, than I am with that of Buddhism.
I don’t know much about Buddhism, or Barker’s own religious leanings for that matter, but his parody takes a broad shot at a certain kind of spiritual narcissism or materialism that could happen in other faiths as well and seems like it would be at odds with seeking enlightenment.
To a lesser extent, Barker’s mention of brand names, products like kombucha and sage, his special clothes, his hybrid and oh yes, even the kama sutra made me think of some sort of fashion statement. The Dalai Lama has commented on this aspect of the popularity of Buddhism in the West. He said, “Don’t do it for fashion.”
“In the United States I have seen people who embrace Buddhism and change their clothes,” he said, laughing. “Like the New Age. They take something Hindu, something Buddhist, something, something. … That is not healthy.” (zenit.org)
I would be curious to hear from readers more knowledgeable about Buddhism and from anyone else what they think of Barker’s Buddhist parody.