Author: John Pendall

Is American Buddhism Cultural Misappropriation?

By John Pendall   A few years ago, I visited a good friend and saw a little Hotei (the chubby laughing Buddha) figurine on his table. “Well that’s fun,” I remarked, pointing at the statue, forever captured in a state of pure, almost disturbing, hysteria. I mean, who the hell is that happy? What is he laughing about, anyway? I can only guess it’s something inappropriate; like a priest farting at a funeral. “You like that? I got it at Spencer’s the other day. I love Buddha statues.” “Well, that’s not the Buddha ya know? That’s Hotei, a Chinese...

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Buddhist and Bipolar

  By John Lee Pendall Don’t let me fool ya; I’m always just one breath away from a total nervous breakdown. The present moment is my sole refuge from utter chaos. If my attention deviates even a hair’s breadth from the here and now, then I start to spiral into depression and anxiety. The future is full of possibilities, most of them terrible. The one certainty is death, our own and the deaths of all those we love. There’s sickness, decay, failure, and loss. The past is full of regrets and of good days that I’d like to see...

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Dharmaflakes: The Dharma is Right in Front of You

By John Lee Pendall Snowflakes. I was standing outside on lunch, and then down they came, fading into view out of the featureless void above. “Just like this,” I whispered to the night, “everything.” Concentrating on the space between flakes, their descent seemed to slow, and their subtle characteristics seemed to pop out. My exhalations plumed forth, a fog flowing through the spaces and then dispersing out of view. The flakes weren’t just falling, but dancing: spirals, zigazags, pirouettes, and promenades. “Just like this,” I declared again. Catching rays from the nearby lot lights, they shone like diamonds. In...

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Santa Claus and the Cycle of Suffering

By John Lee Pendall   I have some huge issues with ol’ Kris Kringle. I loved the legend when I was a kid, but now that I’m older, I see it for what it really is: conditioning. On a side note, you may have noticed that I bring up conditioning a lot. One of these days, I’ll sit down and hash it out in detail, but not right now. Right now, I’m talking about Santa Claus. Santa pretty much represents everything I find terrible about the human race. My main criticism is that he’s a symbol of patriarchy and fear-based...

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Hello, I am Buddhist…and Asexual

  By John Pendall I’m a fat guy. That’s part of my self-concept, but I was only able to create that by seeing someone skinnier than I am. If I’d only ever met people larger than me, I’d be a skinny guy—that would be my self-concept. We also learn who we are through reward and punishment. Our acceptable traits are reinforced, and our unacceptable ones are discouraged. Eventually, the culture’s criticizing voice is internalized, and it becomes the twisted dark side of conscience; ever-ready to point out every mistake we make. Sometimes, discouraged traits go extinct and they’re no...

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Buddhism For Dudes

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