(Yes yes yes, I know you can't get Zen out of a book. But the covers are so pretty.)
I'd never thought about Buddhist magazines, though, until two days ago when I picked up something called Shambhala Sun because of the amusing cover illustration of George Washington sitting in full lotus. Ha, ha.
The articles were worth a read, aside from one Buddhist mother's endless description of how her son's "innocent, wondering" questions keep her on her Zen mettle. That one just set my teeth on edge. Lady, if you're reading this:
- I recommend you learn to make liberal use of the phrase "Because Mommy said so, that's why."
- This was transparently an excuse to write about how your child is the latest incarnation of Master Hakuin. Bully for you. Check in with us again after he robs his first liquor store.
After I'd gone through all the articles I started noticing the ads. If I buy another copy of Shambhala Sun, I admit with a blush that it will be for the ads. Because they are delicious.
Some are what you'd expect. This meditation center, that cushion supply company. But then there are banners for companies that will furnish you with digital "Zen clocks" or invest your money according to the principles of the dharma. (The ad for the latter featured a statue of Buddha buried up to his pendulous earlobes in gold coins.)
And there are real estate advertisements. Properties, most of them in Santa Fe or Colorado, beginning in the half-millions. Not so different from such listings in uppity mainstream rags; except that instead of noting access to spectacular golfing, or electrified perimeter fences to zap unwanted Mexicans, they tout the proximity of stupas or retreat centers. Sotheby's, known worldwide as an avatar of the simple life, even takes care to note that it practices "mindful" real estate.
I love that. I can just imagine a pair of clench-jawed WASP Zennies looking down on the Asian-style adobe next door and thinking, "Sure, they have two Bentleys, but we can see the stupa from our his-and-hers teak jacuzzis from Dharmabubble."
Amazing how much non-attachment you can get for a couple million, no?
This lovely warm smugness filled up my stomach and a fully-complete blog entry sprang into my mind like Athena from the head of Zeus. Silly Americans buying enlightenment. Thinking that a triangular digital clock and an expensive platform bed will bring them closer to satori. An AmEx Gold card is not the key to enlightenment. What fools. Ha ha ha. Snark snark snark. Everybody knows retail consumption doesn't make you more of a Buddhist.
And then that frigging little voice in my head spoke up.
You bought the magazine, didn't you?