By Louis De Lauro
I have been confronted with many difficulties throughout the course of my life, and my country is going through a critical period. But I laugh often, and my laughter is contagious. – The Dali Lama.
After angrily raising his middle finger at another driver in traffic the Jersey Buddhist laughs and says aloud, just kidding.
Hey, life is stressful right now and we all need a laugh, so I wrote this blog.
My friend John wanted an article comparing Zen Buddhism to Tibetan Buddhism for the Tattooed Buddha website, but I didn’t write the article. Why? Because I practice Jersey Buddhism. It’s not quite a hybrid of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism. It’s more of a bastardized version of American Buddhism and Bon Jovi fandom.
What do I mean? Well, I read about Buddhism. I study it. I tell people I practice it. But that’s a bit of a lie because on most days I am more Jersey than Buddhist.
Equanimity means: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. The Jersey Buddhist has all of these traits and more.
Famous people from New Jersey who may or may not be or were Buddhist include Sinatra, Springsteen, Albert Einstein, Shaquille O’Neal, Danny Devito, Tom Cruise, and Meryl Streep as Cruella Deville.
Wait, Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, let’s replace him on the list with Bruce Willis.
The character Bruce played in Diehard might have been a Jersey Buddhist. “Yippee Ki Yay Motherf—-r’ sounds like something a Jersey Buddhist might say.
Well, maybe none of those people are Jersey Buddhists, but since I am a Jersey Buddhist let me teach you more about my kind.
First of all, we barely exist. Most Jerseyites or Jerseans (both are fine) are Catholics or Jewish or Hindu or Muslim. The fifth most common religion in New Jersey might be sun worshippers. Sixth: cat lovers. Seventh: baseball fans. Eighth: Devil worshippers (read more about the Jersey Devil and our hockey team when you get a chance) and Ninth: pizza experts. Buddhism is no higher than 10th on the list of religious groups in New Jersey.
The Jersey Buddhist likes to practice breathing daily. Breathe in for five seconds. Throw a punch. Breathe out for five seconds. Then throw an elbow. Too tired to throw punches and elbows, throw insults and swear words. Jersey Buddhists are tough. Don’t mess with us.
The Jersey Buddhist uses the right speech most of the time besides all those swear words we use. Let’s see. Let’s teach ya some Jersey words. Wawa is a convenience store where we get food in Jersey—usually, a hoagie, which you might call a sub. A Benny is a New Yorker or a northern Jerseyite who frequents our beaches. We don’t call beaches, beaches. We call beaches the shore.
A Tomato Pie is our famous Trenton pizza, you know cheese on the bottom with chunks of sweet tomato on top. A Philly Tomato pie is something different. Pork roll sometimes called Taylor Ham is our one of a kind pork sandwich, its best with egg and cheese. ‘The City’ is what we call New York. Unless you live near Philly, then you just call New York and New Yorkers swear words. And the boss is Springsteen. Bruce is not a Buddhist, but maybe Bon Jovi is?
The Jersey Buddhist says I am giving up meat. Except for pork roll. And meatballs. And salami on my hoagie.
I need a salami and prosciutto every third day or I lose my Zen. And I will probably have a burger or hot dog, you know, a few times a month. Last night I had an Italian hot dog with peppers, tomatoes, and onions. It was delicious. Other than that, I am basically vegan. Yeah, I am having turkey on Thanksgiving. Sorry, I forgot that one. And for Easter, I will have ham. Yes, the Jersey Buddhist has a voracious appetite and talks too much.
Do Buddhist celebrate Easter? In Jersey, we do. Christmas as well. Do we celebrate Buddha? Yes, we eat cake and ice cream often and when do, we rub our Buddha bellies and acknowledge Buddha. We might even have a ceramic figurine of Buddha in our house or on our front porch. You know so if someone asks about it we can rattle off one or two of Buddha’s quotes we have memorized specifically for this occasion.
What else can I tell you?
Hmm. Here’s a quote from Buddha that Jersey Buddhists really like. “Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
We are too truthful. If you gained weight, we will tell you. If we think you need to break up with your boyfriend, you will hear from us. “He’s terrible, dump him! You need a guy like Bon Jovi!” We want to listen, but we are not sure how. Born in Jersey means having an opinion about everything.
Here’s a typical Jersey Buddhist conversation:
Guy 1: Bruce is the best singer of all time!
Guy 2: No way, Bon Jovi is better. And I think he might be Buddhist.
Guy 1: Bon Jovi is not Buddhist. He’s a cat lover.
Guy 2: He’s not Buddhist. Well, he should be. He does a lot of good things. He gives out free food and helps people who are suffering.
Yes, Jersey Buddhists accept suffering. We’ve got pollution. And noise pollution. And traffic. It’s too crowded here, and everybody has an opinion. Lots of people root for the Mets. And Rutgers football can’t win a game. So we suffer.
Jersey Buddhists believe in Karma. They actually practice it. You mess with a Jersey Buddhist, he will get you back. And if a Jersey Buddhist is a she then you are really in trouble.
Finally, the Jersey Buddhist practices mindfulness. Yep, the Jersey Buddhist has a MIND FULL of shit, so he meditates. You know he sits still… in traffic.
The best thing about being a Jersey Buddhist is that we laugh often and our laughter is contagious.
Editor: Dana Gornall
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