January 25, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Buddha Porta Potties, Marine Mindfulness, and Tibetan Rap

Emma Varvaloucas

Buddha Porta PottiesI don't know what Dutch company Boels Rental was thinking when they green-lighted an advertising campaign that involved images of Shakyamuni Buddha printed on Porta Potties around the Netherlands, but it's safe to say they didn't expect a massive Facebook campaign, led by two Thai Buddhists, demanding that the images be taken down. The campaign gathered such support that only two days after it began, the company had apologized and promised to "withdraw the designs from the market."

It seems to me that advertising snafus like this one occur frequently in the West, where the prevailing notion that Buddhism is "a [fill in the blank], not a religion" leads to certain advertising decisions being made with the Buddha's image that would never be made with Jesus' or another respected figure's. (See: Bed Bath & Beyond's ill-advised Buddha toilet brush holder they released—and quickly dropped from their inventory—last year.) I'm not exactly offended by Boels Rental's Buddha Porta Pottie, as it seems like it was ignorance on their part and not malicious intent. But dear companies of the world, please be aware of this simple equation: images of religious figures + human waste = certain publicity disaster. Really, it's not that difficult.

In another surprising green-light, the U.S. Marine Corps have instituted a mindfulness meditation and yoga pilot project. Starting next week, Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton will offer an eight-week meditation course to 80 Marines. Though the article doesn't say this specifically, it's probably a version of Jon Kabat-Zinn's "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" program. Of course, they've "Marined" the name, so the Marines will be participating in the much more tough-guy sounding "Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training" program. Hopefully the training will help Marines handle the extraordinarily high stress levels of combat and post-deployment.

If you're Tibetan or a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner, you've come across a lot of tsampa in your time. Tsampa is a roasted barley flour that is a staple food throughout Tibet, and is frequently used in Tibetan Buddhist practice. Earlier in the week a friend shared Tibetan rapper Shapaley's new video "Tsampa" on Facebook, and I can't resist passing the good vibes along. In the U.S. we're so used to rap videos featuring lyrics like…actually, they aren't fit to print here on the Tricycle site, but you know what I mean. So it's refreshing to hear some rap songs that go like this one:

Let me tell you what tsampa eaters are like
I’ll explain it. Tsampa eaters ain’t the ones who are deceitful
the ones who lie and cheat
Honesty and warm-heartedness is our attitude
love and compassion the basis of our soul



Also, let's just admit it. The song is ridiculously catchy. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Dominic Gomez's picture

"Whatever it is it gotta be funky." ~ Godfather of Soul James Brown, 1933-2006

Dominic Gomez's picture

How about Buddha + alcohol? At least 2 Buddha Bars in the world, San Francisco and Paris. Then there's Buddha Records. Not too many people freaked out about them 40 years ago.

reegley's picture

You missed The Funky Buddha Lounge here in Chicago.

Marfa_Danilovna's picture

Love the song!!!!

On the subject of advertising, in my area a beautician called her shop "Samsara"... Which is probably - unwillingly - fitting for a place you have to return to a lot of times and where you experience a certain amount of pain.

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

That is hilarious! Thanks for sharing.