"Gimme some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with ya!" - Sarah Palin to the Dalai Lama.
DISCLAIMER: It is imporant to note, before men in bath -robes start setting themselves on fire on my front lawn, that I, the author, am in fact a practising Buddhist. I believe that it is essential to find humour in all things in life, even my own faith.
So put the petrol can down.
Siddhartha Guatama was a prince who lived in India around 2,500 years ago. His dad, the king, kept him sheltered within the castle to stop him from realizing how totally fucked the kingdom was. Like all action heros Guatama escaped (I like to envision some kind of Indiana Jones-esque chase scene.) and made his way out into the world. Upon seeing how badly his dad had fucked things up he pledged to become a better, more enlightened man.
So he sat under a tree, and starved himself half to death.
Eventually he caved-in and munched on milk and rice (yummy!). He vowed not to move from under the tree until he achieved enlightenment, or "Nirvana". At the age of 35 he achieved true inner peace and became the Buddha.
Like all celebrities he then embarked on a 45 year promotional tour, teaching the path to enlightenment at county fairs and family BBQ's right up until his death at the age of 80.
When most people think of clergymen they think of someone like this:
Or maybe this:
But Buddhism is all about perfection of body as well as mind, which has in turn created legion of clergy like this:
These images alone should be enough to convert people. There are over 40 different martial arts practises within buddhism, the most famous being Shaolin Kung Fu. Children are taught these practises from as young as two years old, many becoming experts by the age of 10. Remember this next time you see your child/sibling smothering themselves in their own poop.
Unlike the Abrahamic faiths, who use logic such as "do as god says or you'll be in big fucking trouble", Buddhism uses a simple diagram and suggestive text called "The Eight-Fold Path". It goes something like this:
|1. Right View||Wisdom|
|2. Right Intention|
|3. Right Speech||Ethical Conduct|
|4. Right Action|
|5. Right Livelihood|
|6. Right Effort||Mental Development|
|7. Right Mindfulness|
|8. Right Concentration|
These aren't rules or laws, these are guidelines, suggestions of how to reach enlightenment. No-ones gonna spank you if you break one.