Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dharma Dough

Playing in the background: The dulcet, soporific tones of the dryer
Meters swum today: I take Sundays off. Anyway, there's lots of laundry to heft.

One of the downsides of subscribing to Tricycle is that the 'zine seems to forward its mailing list to every do-gooder organization on the planet. Every week I get solicitations from people like FINCA, the Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Project, the Sierra Club and much stranger things. Most of 'em get tossed into the recycle bin (yes, I do recycle; I eat meat, but I'm not beyond hope) and once in a while I send money (Center for Victims of Torture, your check is in the mail). Yes, I know, that only encourages them. Most of 'em are good causes, though, and even if I can't afford to feed all of them, I'm okay with them hanging out at my place between sojourns at the bulk mail factory and the recycling shredders.

On the other hand, we have the DharmaCrafts catalog.

Look, I'm sure Buddhists need cool merchandise just as much as anybody else, but my God, have you seen this thing? Seems like there's no item too hokey, glitzy or overpriced to show up in its fine pages. I know a lot of em are handmade out of used construction nails by native craftspersons who make three cents an hour and have to sell their children for food and so on, and I realize the goods have to be trucked out of Nowhere, Tibet on yakback before they can be sold on the open market, but seriously, there is something wrong with this catalog. You spose those Buddhist monks we saw getting the snot pounded out of them in Myanmar were carrying Heart Sutra Alms Bowls, engraved by a master calligrapher, an heirloom quality treasure ($149.99US)? I did see a couple of them wearing fine lapis lazuli stretchy wrist malas ($39.99), but not too many of them had Golden Lotus Necklaces ($129.99 plus $8.95 flat rate shipping.)

Here in the States, of course, it gets much colder than it does in Myanmar, and we can buy a nice hooded meditation cloak for only $159.99. Hold it together with a Namaste pin for $49.99. Underneath it, you can wear a Mobius-strip metta bracelet in 14 karat gold, a bargain for only $1,699.99. The lotus pond wedding screen ($429.99) makes a fine backdrop for your meditation space, and you can add a tea house fountain ($199.99) and perhaps a copper water bowl (marked down! Only $329.99 for the month of March!) And who can possibly hope to achieve enlightenment without a relaxed Quan Yin garden statue for a mere $4,000? I mean, excuse the snarkitude, but come on, now.

I am not rich. My parents are rich, but that's another post. I make somewhere below that magical threshold of $50,000 a year, beyond which money starts making you unhappy. I am not rich, nor am I poor. Could I afford the $89.99 black onyx mala? Yes, probably, if I wanted to set aside some money from a few pay checks. But why do I need one? I made one myself out of spare beads I have around the house and it works fine. I could probably make you one in your choice of colors for less than $10. I do have stretchy wrist malas (in ten eye-catching colors, no less) but I got 'em from Fire Mountain Gems for a quarter apiece in one of their warehouse sales. I have a pendant of Buddha and the eight auspicious symbols pressed into a copper disk. I think I got it for $20.

I realize necessity isn't the only reason for buying things. If you're going to spend a chunk of change on something, you might as well spend a bit more and get a really good version of whatever it is, or so my dad always said. If I did have, say, $4 grand I didn't know what to do with, would it be a crime for me to buy a relaxed Quan Yin for my garden? Well, no, but geez, the Tibetan Nuns Project would be falling all over themselves if somebody gave them $4 grand. And I don't wanna get on my high horse and start calling other people irresponsible for their purchase decisions, because it's their money and not mine and how they spend it is none of my business, but seriously, doesn't the $1,699 Mobius metta bracelet seem just a little--I dunno--un-Buddhist-y?

(Says the carnivore.)

Well, anyway, I'm done with this month's issue of the DharmaCrafts catalog. Now I'm giving it to Joan, who will promptly chop it to bits with a scissors for all those cool pictures of Buddha to use in some future decoupage project. Finally, a really good application of the $4,000 Quan Yin statue. And it didn't cost us a dime.

No comments: