August 28, 2010
Amanda Brown at The Anti-Room isn't too happy with the Dalai Lama's follow-up to his own comment that his next incarnation could very well be female. I'd heard the first comment but not the second she cites (I'm usually better at staying on top of these things but have been quite slow on this one).
Buddhism has long been held as being the acceptable religion by many left leaning liberals, who would also count themselves in favour of gender equality. It is therefore a bit depressing to note the Dalai Lama’s recent comments about the possibility of a woman succeeding him.
He begins well enough.
“The purpose of the incarnation is to serve people about dharma.... If the circumstances are such, female form is more useful, then why not?”
Unfortunately he then lets himself and all of man and woman-kind down with,
“And I also mentioned in case Dalai Lama’s incarnation one female comes then must be very attractive female. So the very reason, you see more influence to others, an ugly female then may not much effective.”
It's possible this was humor, but Amanda has to wonder (and so must we all). And adding insult to injury, one male apologist has further ruffled her feathers. She won't name him, but here's what he said:
Well, to be fair, what he said was that an attractive woman would influence more people than an unattractive woman, so that is just being realistic.
You can no doubt track him down, but like Amanda, I'd rather spare him. And it's not like he's committed a grave sin, anyway, however much we Buddhists don't believe in sin, at least not in the old-fashioned oh-no-I'm-going-to-hell sort of way.
But I have a question: Wouldn't an attractive man also have an advantage? (He'd probably have to be tall, too, since tall men make more money.)
I have my doubts. Does anyone really think that looks give you spiritual cred? I'd think the reverse is true. Good-looking or famous or particularly well-to-do Buddhists have a tough time convincing people they're serious, and popular envy makes it only worse—it just doesn't seem fair that someone can be rich, famous, beautiful and spiritual. It's sort of like a great, good-looking athlete graduating at the top of his class. Or a supermodel winning a prize at a science fair. We just don't want it to happen. After all, there has to be some just compensation for being, well, not pretty.
Which brings me to our current issue: we'd never featured a celebrity on the cover before, unless the Dalai Lama counts as one, in which case we've done it twice. My predecessor never wanted to, nor did I—until recently: Several weeks back, after much discussion, we concluded that Jeff Bridges was an Academy Award winner no one could take issue with. Who could hate the Dude?
Turns out that so far, everyone likes him—young, old, aging, sick, and dying alike—except one contributing editor who wrote me that he hoped this was just a momentary lapse and not a trend (a former managing editor didn't like it, either, but she said it in such a friendly way it wasn't really a complaint). Otherwise, everyone's been pretty happy. Fact is, people seem to really like Jeff because he's, well, likable, and no one seems to doubt he might be on the path to enlightenment, too. It's all very believable—in any event, he's not getting the flak Steven Segal got.
Some background: It was our managing editor, Rachel Hiles, who first suggested it. She argued that if we were ever going to put a celebrity on the cover, he'd be the one, and we might not have another chance. I agreed. I like the cover and I don't regret it, but I'm still half expecting there'll be more complaints. Our readers aren't your average magazine readers—they're pretty particular and pretty unpredictable and make marketing research pretty useless.
So here's everyone's chance: you can sound off here, and we won't mind, whatever you think. But you'll have to comment now because I don't think we'll have another celebrity on the cover for years to come. I could be wrong, but I'm probably not. I don't think we're going to find another Dude.