Friday, August 29, 2008

Middle Finger, Middle Way (Celebrity Mudra)

Compiled by Upaya Dayaka
mu·dra /məˈdrɑ/ [muh-drah] –noun
1. Buddhism. any of a series of hand positions expressing an attitude or action of a deity.

ce·leb·ri·ty /səˈlɛbrɪti/ –noun
1. a famous or well-known person treated like a deity.

Eminem has turned Buddhist?
Parents of Eminem fans can relax -- the rapper may actually be preaching a peaceful Eastern philosophy. In his new book, Buddha or Bust, Perry Garfinkel says Buddha’s wisdom is cryptically encoded in Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

The line “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment” mirrors the Buddhist meditative practice of mindfulness (vipassana), in which the practitioner lives in the here and now. “By being present in the moment, he finds himself,” Garfinkel says. Still, he adds, “I highly doubt Eminem would know a boddhisatva from a bodacious babe.” (Source)

It's not like it was back in Helen Mirren's day. Arguably it's worse. But bright lights cast long shadows. And even stars look for a guiding light and sometimes turn to the Buddha, between their misadventures that is.

There's Eminem on the one hand, but the same might be said of other celebrities, whose pop music lyrics leave a lot of room for interpretation. Canadian Avril Lavigne resists labels. However, she is attempting to put up an iconoclastic front.

And Britney Spears' well known head shaving saga was well reported, as well as apocryphal rumors of a conversion to Buddhism and ascetic reform.

Where Britney goes, it's only a matter of time before a few select celebrities follow (even if she didn't really go there outside the rumor mill). Soon squeaky clean Justin Timberlake will resort to Signing vulgarities.

And his sometimes drunk, embittered ex, Cameron Diaz:

And even sweet, down home multi-millionaire Jessica Simpson...
and "Friends" star Courtney Cox (goody two-shoes Monica)...

Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger (RIP) may even go further from Sign language to English.

Lindsay Lohan just committed to another faith -- as she fends for her girlfriend, deals with a death in the family, and blogs about her father -- and Paris Hilton was a jailhouse pre-conversion (or toted the right books and guru to cultivate that impression).

So can Kim Kardashian be too far behind?

One supermodel celebrity, Uma Thurman, is not only a well known Buddhist, she has a great dad to ask questions of (Prof. Robert Thurman, noted scholar and personal friend of the current Dalai Lama).

Kate Moss in "yoga" pose as a blonde buddha.

But it's Buddhist Kate Moss who was recently idolized in the form of a $2.8 million, 110 lb. gold statue reminiscent of the Buddha himself.

Orlando Bloom displaying a refreshingly different mudra

Orlando Bloom practices Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism (according to the World Tribune, a newsletter supporting the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, which featured him on cover). While it was known that he was a Buddhist, few knew that he was a SGI.

Orlando visited president Ikeda in Japan and wrote a poem for him:

"With the sword of the Lotus Sutra at my side,
With integrity as my staff,
with you and all of the Buddhas of the ten directions as my mentor,
With kosen-rufu as my goal, I will climb the mountainous path of the
Mystic Law until I gaze out from the peak.
There I will ready myself with gratitude for the next adventure.
I look forward to climbing many mountains -- lifetime after lifetime at your side.

"Sincerely, your disciple and friend, Orlando."

Nichiren Buddhism and Soka Gakai International (SGI), of course, advocate the chanting of the mantra "Nam myo ho ren ge kyo." SGI has a bigger star and long-time adherent in world famous singer Tina Turner. She is a remarkable chanter (even influencing the likes of Amy Winehouse), as she demonstrates for Larry King:

Megan Fox, rushing through airports to the set of Diablo Cody's ("Juno" fame) new movie, is rumored to be "searching for herself." Then again, who isn't?

Brad Pitt and budding Buddhist mom Angelina Jolie [whose extraordinary familial piety comes in the form of a Buddhist "prayer-of-protection" (paritta) is tattooed on her shoulder in Cambodia's ancient Khmer script] are keeping open minds for all their kids: They celebrate Christmas thanks to Zahara, but also took in a Buddhist Water Ceremony on account of Cambodian-born son Maddox.

As for Madonna, who just turned 50 as she embarked on a new world tour, finding a center by meditating and studying Kabbalah is keeping her together and out of scandals (for the most part).

When all is said and done, it seems Avril Lavigne best sums up the magic of celebrity-mudras.

  • See related article on "Why People Are Obsessed with Celebrities."
  • NOTE: WQ loves celebrities, just doing their job of distracting the world and all. It is, however, not fond of the celebritization by the media (e.g., Sarah Palin).

No comments: