How to Speak American Buddhish

Stick to these few simple tips, and soon you too can be a khaki-clad dharma teacher of note.

  • It’s never “my body,” “my mind,” or “my thoughts. It’s “the body,” “the mind,” and “the thoughts.” It is, however, “my dana.”
  • Never use the words “open,” “spacious,” or “awareness” by themselves. It must always be “open, spacious awareness.” If you forget half way, it’s easy to fix. Try, “Just sit in awareness…open, spacious.”
  • Never mean something when you can point to it. For example, never say, “What I mean is that you should pay attention to all the cursing.” Always, “What I’m pointing to here is that you should be mindful of the anger you expressed in speech.” Pointing to stuff is way less threatening than just saying what you mean.
  • Never, “Pay attention to the stuff you’re thinking about.” Always, “Note the objects of the mind.”
  • Any noun can be changed into a verb! Why? Annica! Try the following:
    • selfing
    • not-selfing
    • thoughting
    • dharmaing
    • am-ing
    • meditationing (note: way better than meditating. Why? Annica!)
  • When in doubt, the following words can be sprinkled liberally into any sentence to throw others off the track that you don’t actually know what you’re talking about.
    • volitional formations
    • aggregate
    • discrimination
    • effluent
    • fabrication
  • Speakers of American English only need to know four words of French: entrepreneur, hors d’oeuvre, soufflé, and ménage à trois. Likewise, speakers of American Buddhish only need five words of Pali: dhamma, nibbana, annica, anatta, and dana. With these few words you can speak more Pali that 99% of all American Buddhists. For extra, just learn the term pattica samupada and you never need to learn another word of Pali.

Now you try! Translate the following: “What I’m pointing to is that when volitional formations arise in the mind, try to note the experience of the open, spacious awareness of paticca samupada.”


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