Thursday, February 22, 2007

So LOST Has Something To Do With Buddhism

Lost? So am I.

Well, after last week's time-bending (and mind bending episode), this week's Lost sought to give us a dose of reality. LOST reality, anyway, whatever that is.

SPOILER ALERT: Read no further if you haven't seen the Feb. 21st episode of LOST... Or if you don't care about the show.

This week, we got to see Jack in Phucket, Thailand, where he drank coca cola, flew kites (yes, kites) and had a steamy love affair with Bai Ling, a Playboy covergirl and apparently some kind of mystical tattoo artist.

Things were going pretty well for Jack, who was having all the hot sex and ice cold cokes a guy could want. But, like an idiot, he had to ruin it all by stalking Bai to find out more about her.

And what did he find out? Well, she can "see who people really are." And then she tattoos what she sees on their shoulders. And who is Jack? "A leader." But it makes him miserable and angry. Or something like that. I don't have Tivo. I'll have to watch the episode online tomorrow.

He forces her to give him the tattoo, even though it's against well... the rules. Who's rules? I wasn't quite sure. All I know is that the next day, Jack didn't get his ice cold cokes. He got a fist in the face. And a couple more blows in even worse places. Bai Ling's brother and his friends were majorly PISSED.

Meanwhile, back on "Alcatraz," or "the other island," or "cage world," whatever you call it, the Others move Jack from his cell. Why? They're moving Juliet in. Why? She's on trial. Why? She shot that dude in the last episode. Creepy lady from Desmond's flashback/time travel? is in charge now, and she questions Jack about Juliet's plan to kill Ben. Jack says he made it up. Creepy lady doesn't believe him.

So Jack goes back to the bear cage. And while he's there, a yellow school bus pulls up and a bunch of schoolchildren pour out, apparently on a field trip chaperoned by none other than the stewardess of flight 815, Cindy. Ok, no bus pulls up. But it certainly seemed as if Cindy and the other people with her thought they were on some sort of field trip. "We came to watch," Cindy says cheerfully, and, infuriatingly, neglects to tell Jack what she's planning on viewing. Little does Jack know, they're on their way to watch another maddening episode of LOST.

Actually, I assume Cindy meant they were going to watch Juliet's trial, which Alex informs Jack about. Apparently, the penalty for killing an Other is death. Jack decides to go to Ben to ask him to spare Juliet's life. Ben does, but orders Juliet to be "marked." We also learn that Ethan, killed by Charlie, was the Others' chief surgeon.

Unlike Jack's inked tats, Juliet's "mark" seems to be branded into her skin. Jack applies aloe to it. New romance? Ukk. I hope not. The ending shot of Alex's rescued boyfriend (who apparently has never heard of "The Brady Bunch"-- i.e. he was born on the island) looking up at the stars and then it panning across the sky to Alex was a little too mushy if you ask me.

But you didn't read this to hear criticism. You came here for answers. I'll do the best I can. Check out my previous Lost theory if you're interested.

Thailand is a predominantly Buddhist country. As we know, elements of the show point to Buddhism, like the Dharma Initiative and the octogon-like symbol found everywhere:

Dharma Wheel Swan Logo
Left, The Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism. Right, Symbol for the Swan Station

Looking this info up on Wikipedia, I came across this:

According to a saying attributed in some traditions to the Buddha, if a person does not follow the goal of Total Realization, one lives one's life like a preoccupied child playing with toys in a house that is burning to the ground.
What if the island is that "burning house" that the Losties can't escape until they've reached the goal of "Total Realization"? Chew on that.

After all, in the last episode, one of the flashes on the brainwashing movie screen said "We are the causes of our own suffering." This statement correlates with the Buddhist Four Noble Truths, which states similarly, that:

The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering relates to the correct meditative cultivation of the tathagatagarbha (indwelling Buddha Essence in all beings) and not erroneously viewing it as non-Self and empty; cessation of suffering also arises with the elimination of inner defilements, when one can then enter into the Buddhic Essence within oneself: "When the afflictions have been eradicated, then one will perceive entry into the tathāgata-garbha"
Chew on THAT!!

But my mind was really blown when I uncovered "The Four Buddhist Stages Of Enlightenment":

1. The ordinary person "has little control over his mind and behavior, his destiny is haphazard and subject to great suffering."

This seems to describe most people on the island.

2. The noble person "begins sincere training on the Buddhist path and experiences the truth to the extent of cutting of a number of the ten mental fetters and is sure of enlightenment."

This seems to describe Locke.

3. The non-returner does not come back into human existence, or any lower world, after death. Instead, he is reborn in one of the worlds of the Rūpadhātu called the Śuddhāvāsa worlds, or "Pure Abodes", where he will attain Nirvāna."

Eko perhaps?

4. The fourth stage is that of Arahant, a fully enlightened human being.

The Others? Desmond?

The Buddhist concept of Six Realms seems to have a place in Lost mythology as well, mentioning that people can be reborn as a deva (Cher?), an asura, a human being, an animal (polar bear), a hungry ghost (smoke monster??), or a being in Naraka (hell).

I feel like I'm getting somewhere. But my limited Buddhist knowledge holds me back. Perhaps Richard Gere could help. Does he watch LOST?

Apparently, the island provides some way of reaching Nirvana, or creating a perfect world. By turning the key, Desmond instantly reached a higher plane of enlightenment, and, apparently, so did Eko and Locke. Are the Others merely Buddhists who eschewed the whole "nonviolence" thing a while ago? Is Thailand somehow connected to this mystical island? Are the LOST writers just trying to convert us to Buddhism?????

Anyone care to share their ideas on what all this means??

And was there any point to Shannon's flashbacks in Seasons 1 & 2???

1 comment:

Brooke said...

Part of me is happy I stopped watching Lost in the 1st season...this stuff involves way too much thinking for a TV show. I think I'll go back to watching American Idol...no thinking there.

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