Thursday, September 8, 2016

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

I can't remember where I picked this book up from. Maybe it was that same bookapalooza event or whatever it was called a couple years ago. Anyway...Buddhist, Atheist? I'm in. Sign me up.

This book really approaches Buddhism from a different angle. The author takes a far more historically accurate and slightly more objective look into the life of the Buddha. Batchelor's angle is to strip away the social context and influence of India 2500 years ago, and just find Siddhartha Gotuma's unique personal teachings. Best example I can give would be the idea of reincarnation. That concept predates Buddhism. It was a Hindu idea at the time that was commonly accepted, so it made its way into what we know as Buddhism. It's a core tenet of Buddhism, in fact. But was it the Buddha's teaching? Or was that merely an artifact of the time in which he lived?

I've always viewed Buddhism as a philosophy first and foremost, and religion second. A lot of people approach it that way. There are plenty of Buddhist Jews or Buddhist Christians for instance. Hell, there are Buddhist Christian Monks. It's definitely not contrary or antagonistic to be a Buddhist AND hold some sort of religious faith (if that's your thing).

Batchelor sees Buddhism in a similar light. He was an ordained monk for over a decade, he was a disciple of the Dalai Lama and lived with him at Dharmsala, he's taught Buddhism all over the world, etc, but he ultimately disrobed, adopted a lay life and got married.

His "thing" is that he started to feel like a fraud when it came to some of the 'mystical' aspects of Buddhism, if you will. Buddhism is all about questioning things and all about empirical research and experience, but what if you question something as fundamental as reincarnation? Is that taking it too far? Can you still be Buddhist? What the hell happens to the concept of karma if you don't believe in reincarnation?

This is the kind of stuff that he tackles in this book. That, and he really does a pretty good deep dive on the true history of the Buddha. For starters, he wasn't a prince. Yeah, this book has some revelations. Well, at least it did for me.

Overall, it was a pretty good book. It's definitely a different angle and I really appreciated that fresh approach, especially considering I'm atheist and Buddhist. It was good to read a book from a renowned ex-monk who essentially says, "that's okay," "that's not in conflict."

Om mani padme hum

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fresh Dressed

This flick is actually quite a bit better than the trailer lets on. It looks a bit too glossy and superficial, but the movie comes off deeper and more down to earth than that.

Anything that starts in 1970's NYC with the classic era gangs is gonna be good. This doesn't disappoint. The documentary charts the origins of hip hop fashion to the NY boroughs when NY was straight up living "the Warriors." It takes it from there to the birth of hip hop via the b-boys and rides the wave to current day innovators. We see rappers starting their own labels like Rocawear, Wu Wear, and Sean Jean, and even before that we see street wear become "a thing."

There are some pretty cool interviews with local cats from back in the day, as well as big name rappers in the game like Nas and Kanye, etc.

I really dug this look back at hip hop fashion. Definitely worth a watch on Netflix if you like hip hop at all.

Wooooord. Woooooooord.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

21 Days Under the Sky

Can't remember where I found out about this. Maybe it just popped up in my Netflix queue. Anyway, it's a biker road trip flick made in part by Dice Magazine. So it has credentials.

Four dudes ride from SF to NY in three weeks. A pretty awesome ride by anyone's standards. Would love to take that on.

They ride some pretty rad Harley choppers. Sissy bars, extended front ends with exaggerated rake, Coker tires, you know the drill. I wanna know where that dude got his serape vest. It's nice. But anyway...the bikes are legit.

The soundtrack is pretty good. But overall the movie is pretty shallow. You don't get to know any of the characters. It's just about getting some nice, artistic shots of the bikes traveling cross-country. Nothing more, nothing less. They try and weave in some sort of commentary on America and the history of bikers...but it's still pretty shallow.

It's not very long. I'd definitely recommend you watch it if you ride bikes or dig choppers. For sure.