September 23, 2011

Buddha Buzz: Zazen in a Bottle

Brad Warner's blog, Hardcore Zen, recently highlighted this amazing product: I AM BLISS energy shots. I AM BLISS drinks (so blissful, they need capital letters), use a combination of chamomile flowers, passion flowers, lemon balm, and Ashwagandha plants to give the drinker "an authentic experience of BLISS." As their website says, this is "no small undertaking when you consider the commonly understood meaning of BLISS is a euphoric state of being usually associated with drugs, mystical experiences, or the result of years of meditation." You hear that, dedicated meditators? Someone has bottled you.

Finding that you can't go to sleep with all that Ashwagandha plant swirling around in your body? Try some Zazen Sleep Formula. (Curiously, the Zazen sleep formula has Ashwagandha plant in it too...what is this stuff, anyway?) Their website says that you can "relax faster, rest deeper, stay asleep longer, and awaken more refreshed than if you had not consumed zazen." To think that the last time I fell asleep during zazen I just got whacked with a keisaku...

And if you're really going for the gold with American consumerism of Buddhism, the trademark for the brand "The Enlightenment Pill" is up for grabs in December 2012! A Mr. Stan Solomonson with Future Foods, Inc. registered the trademark back in 2006, but who knows if he's going to renew it. Maybe he'll forget, and "The Enlightenment Pill" could be yours to develop in any way that you so choose! I, for one, am going to be keeping my eye on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website for the next year or so.

These things are amusing to poke fun at, but as Owen Flanagan, Ph.D., asked on the Huffington Post a few days ago, are we Americans really missing the point of Buddhism, especially with all this enlightenment-in-a-bottle stuff? Flanagan concludes,

One wonders whether American Buddhists, especially those who think that Buddhism is largely about meditation, and the personal psychological goods, the self-satisfaction on offer from sitting in, what has become, a laughably bourgeois pose, aren't missing something essential about Buddhism, about what Buddhist philosophy is mainly and mostly about, namely, wisdom and goodness.

To be fair, it is highly doubtful that the creative team behind Zazen sleep formula were Buddhists. And Flanagan's article seems to be (harshly, and perhaps unfairly) targeting a certain stereotype of American Buddhist—the kind who buy I AM BLISS by the crate, for example. There are many American Buddhists who are diligently developing wisdom and goodness and are also deeply engaging with Buddhist philosophy. So cut us a break, Dr. Flanagan...we'll buy you some I AM BLISS energy shots.

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jimboer's picture

If only it was that easy. Enlightenment in a bottle, Zen in a pill. It is a free world, mostly at least. Buddhism, or at least fauxbuddhism along with fake yoga retreats, etc. have been the rage since...... well maybe the 1960s at least. We as spritualists of course have to realize this is part of the practice, to recognize the ingeniune as such.

Matt's picture

Given time, anything that improves life will be commercialised and freeze-dried. The "Buddhism Imported Version" can be quite attractive to some I guess, over here (UK) it's all the rage to have a Jasmine Pearl tea, after your yoga class but before stocking up on chemically-reproduced incense and relaxing on your Japanese-style low-riding sofa... :-) Mention the dharma, however, and you're guaranteed to hit a brick wall..