Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Joe The Buddha

Cupertino, California, USA

March 17, 2011



"You're all  Joe the Plumber!" ... John McCain, to a campaign rally crowd in Defiance Ohio, after asking Joe the Plumber to stand up (he wasn't there)

"You're all Joe the Buddha!"  ... Laurence Platt, to everyone, after nothing in particular
This essay, Joe The Buddha, is the companion piece to I am indebted to Anurag Anand Nirman and to Vanda Mikoloski who inspired this conversation.




It's an old joke. A man meets the Buddha. He asks him "Do you drink?". The Buddha says "No. Drinking is a distraction from the eight-fold  path.". The man asks him "Do you smoke?". The Buddha says "No. Smoking is also a distraction from the eight-fold path.". The man asks him "Do you make love?". The Buddha says "No. Making love is another distraction from the eight-fold path.". Incredulous, the man says "What? You don't drink? You don't smoke? You don't make love? What do you do for fun?". The Buddha, laughing, says "I tell lies.".

It's this kind of self-deprecating  humor ie not taking oneself too seriously which for me is an indication of authentic  mastery.

If there's a path  to mastery, then in order to discover the path to mastery, you have to discover there's no path to mastery. There's no path. We're already here.

If there's anything to get  to realize mastery, then in order to get what there is to get to realize mastery, you have to get there's nothing to get  to realize mastery. There's nothing to get. THIS IS IT!

So if the Buddha is really  the Buddha, then for him  it's not significant that he's the Buddha. Not drinking, not smoking, not making love ... that's all very pious, very reverent, and of course very spiritual. Except when they're "in order to"  stay on the path to mastery and there's no path to mastery, then their significance has outlived their usefulness.

In the joke I told, the Buddha restores the correct perspective of not being significant, of no path, of nothing to get, by laughing about telling lies. However, the Buddha's nature is slippery. He may be lying about telling lies  ... in which case and you and I would never know  if he's lying or if he's telling the truth. In this Zen vignette, it's actually inconsequential if he's lying or if he's telling the truth. All the Buddha has to do is interfere with the man's significance making machinery  enough for him to have an "A-Ha!"  moment, enough for his Self to break through unencumbered by his ego for just one split second, enough for who he really is to burst forth like a naked presence  and stand there with nothing going on, having a good laugh at the joke.

But that's when the Buddha's telling a joke (and what's a Buddha worth if he doesn't have a sense of humor?). Notice a Buddha doesn't have to tell a joke to cause a breakthrough. All a Buddha has to do is interfere with the significance making machinery enough to cause an "A-Ha!" moment, enough for the Self to break through unencumbered by the ego for just one split-second, enough for who we really are to burst forth like a naked presence and stand here with nothing going on, having a good laugh for no reason.

That's all you have to do. Anyone can do it. There's nothing out of the ordinary about it. That's why I call you Joe the Buddha. As in "an ordinary Joe". As in the guy next door Joe. As in the guy on the bus Joe. As in the gal  next door Joe, for that matter. As in the gal on the bus Joe. A gal, after all, can also be an ordinary Joe.

That's you, guys and gals. You're all  Joe the Buddha.



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