On Keanu, Buddhism and Pigeons in Protest…


I try to find humor in everyday situations. Some days, funny is hard to find and I have to turn the laughter to myself. But most days, there is more than enough to laugh at if I open myself up to it.

This morning started with my Sunday Shakti Yoga Church, a small congregation of yoga practitioners and our teacher (who I will call “Jason” because that is his name). Jason is a little bit like sour dough bread. All he needs is a tiny topic to get started and that topic grows as long as it has air. Yes, this is me the pot, calling the kettle “black.” Today’s church was just the pot and the kettle and no one else, so the already casual class leaned heavily in to that label. For the first half hour, we just bantered back and forth about various things, like how the similarities between some spiritual yoga teachings are like a John Lennon song. I envisioned a famous guru, teaching no possessions, then bowing “Namaste,” leaving his mat, putting his Rolex back on his wrist and climbing into limo where a martini waits.

We discussed how some of the yoga traditions teach unrealistic ideas of reaching a place of nothingness, so you care about nothing or anyone, not even you. In short, treat yourself and the world like your teenagers and cats do.

Later, Jason brought up Buddhism. Jesus and Buddha were very different men. Buddha was born to wealthy parents, into royalty in a palace. Jesus was born the son of God in a stable to a poor unwed mother and her fiancé. But, both Buddha and Jesus eschewed materialism and taught peace, kindness, and the temporary nature of this world.

As Jason started discussing the life of Buddha, he muttered, “Starring Keanu Reeves, because who better to play the Buddha than Keanu?” I laughed and pictured the young Buddha, discontent with all the trappings of wealth, looking out the palace window for the first time. “Whoa. Strange things are afoot at the Circle K,” he says, before leaving for his Big Adventure.

Who better indeed to play the Buddha than Keanu Reeves? While I’m working on the outer rotation of my thighs, I chuckled at the vision of not the traditional image of Buddha, but Keanu sitting in lotus, wearing a black Neo coat and sunglasses, Mona Lisa smile playing around his lips. After class, I thought I’d write about it, and struggled with my basic software to take a stock picture of Buddha and photoshop Neo’s head on it. As you can see, it didn’t turn out very well. I doubt it will fool anyone.

In a moment of frustration and defeat, and on the off-chance that some graphic artist out on the web had the same idea, I Googled, “Keanu as Buddha.” Like like an answer to my prayers, I got exactly what I asked for. Now, I consider myself a Keanu fan. I thought I had seen all Keanu films except “John Wick” because… well, a dog dies. But, I never knew he played Buddha in a movie. He did! In 1993’s “Little Buddha,” Keanu’s character is a young, extremely easy on the eyes, reincarnate of the great teacher. After a search by Tibetan monks for the three manifestations of Buddha (body, speech, and mind), they discover that the mind manifestation is actually a young American kid. Of course, why wouldn’t he be American? His name is Jesse, and he is the son of a Seattle architect and a school teacher. What are the odds?

Don’t believe me? Exhibit A.

Little Buddha received a score of 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is better than the “Matrix Resurrections,” and “Police Academy” did. Gene Siskel gave it 3.5 out of 4 and called it a “gorgeous movie.” I know what I’m watching tonight.

It is hard to laugh during downward facing dog, but harder still to laugh during full pigeon pose. This paragraph is an intentional segue way because that was the only way to transition to the next paragraph. So, speaking of pigeons…

About a year ago, Jason was showing the class some variations on downward facing dog. He suggested that, to get a deeper stretch, we turn our toes in and heels out. “Pigeon toe style,” he said. He paused for a second and frowned. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Was that offensive? Was that politically incorrect?” I laughed and said “I’m sure there are some offended pigeons out there planning a protest as we speak.” He didn’t hear me because the Zoom was on mute. I immediately thought about doing some graphic art or cartoon with photoshop showing angry pigeons at a “sit-in.” I thought about it and laughed about it a great deal after that, but never I did anything with it. As you have heard, my photoshop skills aren’t the best. But, today, Google did not disappoint.

Y’all go have some fun out there. I’ll go take my meds.

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