I’m feeling really Zen today because we’re learning
about Buddhism. We’re gonna meet Erica,
who’s a new Buddhist, and all that I know
about Buddhism is Lisa Simpson’s a Buddhist and Richard Gere is a Buddhist
and everyone we talked to, when we asked them what religion
they wanted to learn about, they said Buddhism. So, I’m gonna be —
I’m gonna be chill today, because I think that’s
what it’s all about — being chill and realizing
the potential in yourself. So, I’m not even gonna end
this with a joke. I’m just gonna be quiet. Beautiful day. -How are you?
-Fantastic! How are you?
-Pretty good. Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you, too. I feel like our colors
kind of work together. -I feel like that, too.
-It’s going well. I’m glad we’re both, you know,
like, on the same page. -Yeah, yeah.
No, absolutely. -So, I guess let’s
go learn about Buddhism. -Sounds like a good idea. -Awesome.
-Come on this way. -Can I get to know you
a little bit… -Sure. Let’s do that.
-…now that it’s being filmed? -Yeah. That’s the natural way
to get to know people. -So, you’re a comedy writer. -Yeah. I write stuff,
and then hopefully it’s funny. -So, comedy and Buddhism, like,
as far as energy level, don’t really seem
like they would match up. Like, I always think of Buddhism
as a Zen thing… -Right.
-…and improv as, like, “Wah! Hey! Oh, we got this hat!
Oh, look! Oh!” And it’s like,
“Only questions.” So, how does that —
how does that work? -Yeah, well, Zen Buddhism is, like, very meditative
and removed from society. But that’s
the other wonderful thing about this kind of Buddhism is that it exists
in the middle of society. A lot of it is about getting
out of your own head and realizing our connection
to other people. So, it’s actually
very improv-y related. Enlightenment is not
necessarily attained, you know, after centuries
on a mountain by yourself. Enlightenment is attained
in everyday life, interacting with everybody else. -So, Buddhism is a relatively
new thing for you, right? -Yeah. Since I moved to L.A.
Two and a half years. -Were you religious
at all before that? -Well, I went
to Catholic high school. My family’s Catholic. -How was that?
-It was okay. When I was a teenager, um… realized that I didn’t really
buy into religion that much. -So, what made you re-buy
into the idea of religion? -When I was 30, I started having
pretty bad anxiety attacks, and I went to a million doctors. I went to Eastern medicine,
Western medicine, and the consensus was,
“You have too much anxiety. You’re stressed out.” And I was like, “Well,
how do you fix that?” You know? I mean, I was in great shape
’cause I was exercising. I was going to therapy twice
a week and trying everything. But I did get a job next
to a woman who was a Buddhist. And she said, “I chant.
I’m a Buddhist, and I chant.” And I thought, “Well, gee. That seems like a good way
to get anxiety out, you know, to yell.” They said, “Just do this
for a month and it’ll fix you. Just five minutes
in the morning, five minutes at night,
chant to be better.” -So, what does it entail when
you’re chanting to be better? Do you chant
about specific things? Like, “I’d like to be better
at time management!” -Yes, yes!
It’s that specific. I have, like,
notebooks filled with things. Like, the first thing
they’ll say is write down 10 things
that you want. It could be anything —
a car, a new bag, whatever, goals —
things that you chant for. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. -So, what has chanting
brought you? -I’m a writer, so I was — I
went to the Austin Film Festival and I pitched my movie, like,
before I started chanting. And I was sweating and I was — So, you know, sitting
in the room was — It was hell. But then, after chanting
for a year, I went back, and I was like —
chanted a bunch — I just went in,
and I did it very naturally. So, it changed my nerves.
It gives me more confidence. -Is it all about asking
for what you want? -It’s a good way to start,
because you’ll see it work, and then you’ll be like —
like I was, “Oh, sh-t.” And then you’ll keep doing it. Buddhism —
The chanting is the first thing I found that really
connects your heart to your mind and makes your feelings change,
makes your attitude change. But what it’s really about
is spreading the philosophy that we’re all God, right? And that we’re all capable
of this enlightened state of complete compassion
for one another. It’s a philosophy
of absolute equality. The main goals are that the
point of life is to be happy. It’s why we’re here. The way to be happy
is to understand this philosophy that we are all capable
of Buddha-hood, every single one of us. So, all the struggles
that we go through — We’re here to overcome them and then use our victory over
them to encourage other people. -So, what is it —
What’s the first step to becoming a Buddhist? -You would chant. So, we chant,
“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” That’s what we say.
-What does it mean? -It’s the enlightened nature
of the universe. -Okay.
-You’re gonna chant later. -I’ll chant later.
-At the center. -But I should probably
-You want to practice? -Can we run chant lines
together? -[ Laughs ] Well,
you know what’s kind of helpful? Like, when I started, there’s
a card that says the words, ’cause you’ll forget the words. So, you want to have it in front
of you when you’re chanting. -Nam-myo… -Ho-renge-kyo.”
-…ho-renge-kyo. -Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. -Generally,
we would get together, and we would begin
every gathering by chanting, because that’s what we do. And we chant,
“Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” And then, generally, for the sake
of anyone who is new, we would explain a little bit about how the practice works —
just the basics. -Well, that is my question.
How does it work? I know it works
with an individual, but as a group,
how is it different? -As a group, we kind of focus
on bigger things because we are all part
of the world, and the things
that are going on in the world that cause suffering — You know, we feel like, as a conglomerate,
we are working on that. -Who has chanted their way to getting action
from the opposite sex? [ Laughter ] -Nice to meet you.
I’m the Big Chocolate. -You’re the Big Chocolate? -‘Cause, you know,
I got all this going on. -Is that
on your birth certificate? -My mom just called me B.C.
for short. -Nice! -I was raised in Israel
as a Jew, but a secular way, like, you know,
Catholics who don’t practice. I guess that would be
a good analogy. You know, am I a Jew-Bu
or a Bu-Jew or — I don’t know. I’m just a person.
-A “Jewdha.” -A “Jewdha.” Okay. Yeah.
-[ Laughs ] -So, what spoke to you
about Buddhism that you didn’t get
out of Judaism? -What spoke to me
is coming to meetings and meeting the people, seeing the diversity
or the members. -But, you know,
the greatest thing is basically understanding
this crazy world. It seems like
evil’s beating good out, and I really didn’t like that. So, my hope went down
real, real low, right? But ever since
I’ve been a Buddhist, now, oh, it’s getting better,
and I got hope for the world. I can’t wait to wake up
the next day. -For me, from what I’ve seen,
it’s probably the most diverse, you know, group of people
you will ever meet. You know, you go to any meeting,
and you see, like, every culture represented,
practically, and that’s really —
-Every age. -Every age, every culture,
and that’s really the — -Every profession.
-Every station of society. -Yeah, that’s really
the beauty, to me, about this practice
is the diversity. -Do Buddhists worship anything? -No.
Um, it’s actually — We say that the Gohonzon that we’re chanting to
is like a mirror, and when you’re chanting,
you’re polishing the mirror. So, because we don’t believe
in anything besides the internal state
of Buddha-hood that we already have,
it’s more revealing it. -To me, it’s like,
you know, you’re born in this, like, bubble —
this glass bubble. And as you get older
and older, you have all this paint
thrown on the bubble — doubt and fear and, you know —
and trying to be like your mom or trying to be like your mom’s
mom and all this stuff. And so, all of a sudden,
this glass bubble basically has all this paint
on it. And so, when you start chanting, it’s like you get
a little razor blade and you start scraping
the paint off. Then you finally find out
what’s really inside. And when everybody finds out
what’s inside their bubble, it’s easy to get along
with each other. It’s easy to root for you,
want your dreams to happen, want her dreams to happen,
you know, want mine. You know, ’cause you get
a clear picture of what the world is
instead of… When you have all that paint,
you can’t see outside, so you don’t really know
what the world’s supposed to be or what you’re supposed to be. -Yeah, I like to just,
like, break down all religions into things that I could get
from the Home Depot. So that was perfect. [ Laughter ] What do you think
ultimate enlightenment is? -I think ultimate enlightenment
is being able to really see that the real reason we’re here
is to help other people. And not only is it
the only reason that we’re here, it’s the only way for us,
personally, to attain real happiness. Like, the only lasting form of actual fulfillment
and happiness is giving back
to the people around us and helping them and using
our own lives for that purpose. -That’s a beautiful answer. I don’t know
what to say to that. That’s perfect.
I can just go now. -“Cut.”
-I can go. So, today, I met
some really wonderful people that Buddhism
has helped tremendously. And Erica’s fantastic
and really funny and also standing right
over there. Uh, hi!
-Hi! You better say that. -And, uh,
what I’ve learned about Buddhism is that there’s a Buddha
already inside of me. I’ve just got to do a bunch
of chanting to bring him out and be the best, most Buddha-ful
version of myself. Life is Buddha-ful.
That’s what I’ve learned.