January 22, 2013

TrikeTV: Buddha Balderdash

Welcome to the second episode of TrikeTV, "Buddha Balderdash." This time, the audacious Tricycle staff hit the streets of New York City to play Balderdash with a Buddhist twist. Balderdash is a board game that asks players to correctly define difficult words—and if they don't know the right definition, to make one up. We decided to ask strangers to define classic Buddhist words like "dharma," "nirvana," and "karma." Watch to find out just how much Buddhist parlance has successfully permeated the mainstream consciousness...

Watch the first episode, "A Very Buddhist Christmas," here.

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James Mullaney's picture

Keep doing this long enough in Manhattan and you'll find actual Buddhas. They're usually sleeping on park benches under newspaper blankets. In fact, there's one who used to live in Central Park. I encountered him at the famous Simon and Garfunkel reunion concert on the Great Lawn in September, 1981.

He was a man of about 64 with white hair, walking around ringing a large bell and announcing, "Poems for sale!" When I offered to buy a poem from him, he read one and asked if he could give me a blessing. When I consented, he placed his hands on my head and invoked a blessing; but then to my astonishment, he went on to ask the Universe to heal me of a psychological malady which I had never disclosed to anyone.

The last I heard of him was in the year 1999, and it was said he was still there.

DougHolmes's picture

Psy as a Bodhisattva - it's all so obvious now....

GeoffT's picture

Ehr, like, yeah! That's it.

shikantasean's picture

That was great. I really loved the bandanna dude.
Maybe a true Zen Master!

longm's picture

Good vid,dig the idea of Trike TV o7

Sarah11.11's picture

Cute! Reminds me of Bill Cosby's 'Kid's Say the Darndest Things' when he asked young people to explain concepts like God and Love.

amawakening-3cycle's picture

My mind dances around how to engage... This reminds me of the quip made popular in the late sixties about communication. We think that we know what something means. Others might have different meanings for these words. So, when we have a conversation, the other person thinks that they know what we said. However, they don't realize that what they heard is not what we meant. Then a "right fight" ensues and this is how world wars are begun! Very funny!

Leah's picture

Loved it! The people seemed so cool. Loved them too. I really needed to smile today so thanks!

katyyelland's picture

All of these people demonstrated that you can be a lot of very good things without knowing the first thing about Buddhism.

Stephen's picture

Like your new idea - Trike TV. New ideas are good. They keep us thinking and fresh. Regarding the Balderdash interviews on streets of NYC. Wow. Things are worse than I thought. I mean, these folks were really pathetic on the topic. Imagine how bad it would have been if you were asking the same questions on the streets of a much less sophisticated city! Blaze on with your ingenious projects intrepid camera team!

franschaper's picture

I LOVE the Dude... It's as If Bodhidarma waltzed thru Manhattan... What joy in that fellow...
Very cool....

Kokuan's picture

Nice lighthearted reminder that we need to meet people where they are. I found myself wondering how I would express these Buddhist terms in ways that non-Buddhists might connect/identify with in their own lives.

Sukha's picture

Can someone tell me what music is playing in the background? I really like it.

Andrew Gladstone's picture

The song is a cover of Young Blood by the English singer Birdy

Sukha's picture

Thank you.

recurvata's picture

Sorry, this is the only Young Blood

Vidusi's picture

We knew to expect that the person on the street would not be a Buddhist, I found it a shame that we were exploiting their ignorance just for a quick laugh.

James Shaheen's picture

Hi Vidusi,

I'm sorry you saw it that way. In fact, we were not laughing at these people, who were good sports about playing a fun and perhaps silly game. Our hosts, Emma and Alex, clearly had a sense of humor about themselves, too. No one in the video seemed to be taking it poorly or we wouldn't have included them. They volunteered and seemed to be having fun, too.

I don't think anyone expects the general public to be able to define these terms—they can be a challenge for Buddhists, too—so there was clearly no shame in not knowing the answers. If we'd wanted to make fun we might have asked questions people could be expected to know the answers to ("Who's the Secretary of State?") but may not. The expectation, on the contrary, was that the general public does not know (and does not need to know) these terms, and that it would be interesting to get their impression of words they'd certainly heard before through advertising and other media.

If you thought any of these people came off poorly, I can only say that we didn't. We enjoyed their willingness to play a harmless game—Balderdash—and engage in a little lighthearted fun. A few of them wanted to know when we'd post the video so they could share it with their friends. We'll be in touch with them. And by the way, they all got a free issue of Tricycle!

Thanks for commenting,


zeman_aw's picture

+1 to James's answer on all counts. Among other things, so right about these concepts being a challenge for Buddhists too

bvanzoeren's picture

very funny.. thank you