Going to Thailand? Don’t expect to come back with a Buddha tattoo as a souvenir.

Via Time, thanks to reader and friend Dan R:

The [Culture] ministry has called on tattoo parlors across Thailand to stop drawing Buddha on people’s bodies because his image is sacred and has asked provincial governors to inspect parlors to assure that they are not defying the decree.

More here. Good thing they’re not keeping people out for already having them, or we’d know a lot of ineligible folks.

Dharma tattoos go primetime, sorta, on Spike TV’s “Permanent Mark”

As a tattoo kinda guy (I know: ecccch), I have mixed feelings about Spike TV’s show “Permanent Mark,” about a dude who travels the world collecting exotic tattoos. It’s great travel-show-style eye candy, though it often emphasizes a sort of sometimes-drunk machismo to which I just don’t relate. (I guess I’m a sensitive, wussy type.) But the latest episode takes the show’s titular host to Thailand, where with the help of Buddhist monks, he receives a highly-prized — and highly painful — bit of ink from one particular monk who happens to be a true master of the art.

You can now watch the entire episode online, here.

(Dang, do I want to go to Thailand.)

“A Fusion Of Buddhism And Punk Rock”

The Local East Village has just published a new interview with Dharma Punx’ Josh Korda.

Hey, any meditation teacher who loves Mastodon and the Wu-Tang Clan is my kinda meditation teacher.

Check out the interview here.

And thanks to the mighty Sam DeWitt for the heads-up on this one.

It’s been a year…

…since Daido Loori, the influential American Zen master, died. Since we talk about tattoos a lot here on the Horse, I thought I’d re-present this anecdote from the New York Time’s obituary of Daido, which somehow seems emblematic:

Zen Buddhist elders nearly prevented Abbot Loori’s ordination as a monk, after seeing a tattoo peeking from his robe. A Navy souvenir, it depicted an innocent-enough anchor, but Japanese associate tattoos with criminals, and Abbot Loori refused to erase his past.

The ordination finally went ahead. But the abbot wore a bandage over the tattoo when he visited Japan, Newsday reported in 2004.

“I think they were a bit puzzled when I returned year after year and the burn still hadn’t healed,” he said.

Mike DeStefano: Last Comic Standing’s Buddhist voice (UPDATED)

[UPDATE: I've just put together a new interview with DeStefano, for Shambhala SunSpace. I hope you'll check it out.]

On NBC’s Last Comic Standing, the gruff Mike DeStefano, a seasoned comic, has become an audience favorite. And actually, it’s clear that the comedian’s persona is just that — a persona; at heart he’s a big softy and a family kind of guy. He’s also a former addict celebrating more than a dozen years in recovery.

Buddhism, clearly, plays a part in all this (though DeStefano identifies himself primarily as a practitioner of “recovery comedy”). Last night on the show viewers saw Mike’s monster Buddha tattoo (shown here) and also heard a joke that I imagine we’ll be hearing people repeat for a while:

“I went to a Chinese restaurant… They had a suggestion box, so I wrote ‘Free Tibet’.”

(It’s not “What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?*” but, hey, not bad, Mike.)

Other evidence of Mike’s interest in Buddhism? His new comedy album is called OK Karma. And here’s the cover (left).

He’s also written a book entitled Bada Bing Bada Budda.

Check out Mike online, here.

Update: click here to check out DeStefano’s contribution to the (true) storytelling podcast, the program, titled “The Junkie and the Monk.” It’ll give you a taste of Mike’s personality and background and — while it’s seriously rough stuff at times — it’ll make you laugh. You’re gonna like this guy.

(* “Make me one with everything.”)

Video: “Tattoos and Tibetan Ex-political Prisoners,” by Heidiminx

Heidiminx — the very model of the punk-rock dharma activist — rules. But you knew that, right? Well, if you didn’t, check out her new video, “Tattoos and Tibetan Ex-political Prisoners.”  In it, she interviews a member of the Tibetan ex-political prisoners association, GuChuSum.

As Heidiminx writes, “While there are numerous sites and TV shows dedicated to the meanings of tattoos, the tattoos of Tibet’s ex-political prisoners have not been well documented. Their experiences are crucial to understand the human rights violations China commits on a daily basis.”

Support and follow Heidiminx’s work here. And visit GuChuSum here.

Mixed Martial Artist Dan Hardy’s Dharma tattoo: Where’d it go?

The tattoo in question, via farm4.static.flickr.com

Sports site TSN reports that:

“English welterweight Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy’s stomach tattoo was airbrushed out of the UFC 111 fight poster because it is ‘anti-Chinese government stuff,’ according to UFC president Dana White.

‘”I’m trying to get into China,” he told fans at a question-and-answer session Tuesday. ‘I don’t need anti-Chinese government stuff on my fighters.’

“Hardy, however, says the tattoo — the fighter’s favourite — is a Tibetan Buddhist prayer written in Sanskrit.

‘”It’s basically just like a prayer for focus,’ Hardy said. ‘It keeps me walking the path that I should be walking without veering off and distracting myself.’

“Apprised of that explanation, White said: ‘That’s not what I heard.’

[...] “‘I heard that it was anti-Chinese government, so I ripped that thing off it. I’m not going to put him on a poster with anti-Chinese government writing on it when we’re trying to get into China. . . . I don’t know what this stuff means, so I’ve got to be safe.’

But, as the MMA site Bloody Elbow (nice name, that) points out:

“The tattoo is the well known Buddhist mantra “Om mani padme hum” which has no political significance in relation to China.”

Well, not quite no political significance.  While the tattoo isn’t an overt anti-China statement, China sure is sensitive to hearing about Tibetan Buddhism. Some, like Robert Thurman, would even go so far as to say that the Chinese government is trying ‘re trying to, um, airbrush it away.

Daido’s tattoo

You may likely have heard by now that John Daido Loori, the founder of the Mountain and Rivers Order of Zen Buddhism has died. He will be missed.

The NY Times published an obit. There are so many things one could say about Daido, and they’ll be said by people far better than me. (The MRO’s mini-site in tribute to Daido does a beautiful job.) That being said, I did want to share this tidbit, being that we talk about Buddhism and tattoos here a good deal. From the Times obit:

Zen Buddhist elders nearly prevented Abbot Loori’s ordination as a monk, after seeing a tattoo peeking from his robe. A Navy souvenir, it depicted an innocent-enough anchor, but Japanese associate tattoos with criminals, and Abbot Loori refused to erase his past.

The ordination finally went ahead. But the abbot wore a bandage over the tattoo when he visited Japan, Newsday reported in 2004.

“I think they were a bit puzzled when I returned year after year and the burn still hadn’t healed,” he said.

Anyway, here’s to Daido, and here’s to not erasing the past.

« Previous Entries