Finding the Buddha in Strange Places

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The philosopher Spinoza said that God is in everything.  One of the best things we can do with our practice is learning how to see the spiritual in the mundane and how to take our mindfulness off the yoga mat and the zafu and express it in the real world.  One of the things I like to do with this website and my books is to show examples of the divine in places you might not think to look for it.

Most of the time making these comparisons and discoveries in fun and expands our awareness like seeing Superman as a Christ figure or understanding why the Lotus flower is a symbol of transcendence.  Other times it can be dangerous and build walls around our hearts like thinking someone’s sexuality interferes with your journey.  That’s why Right View is the first step in the Eight Fold Path.  The point of religion is being able to see it everywhere.

One exercise I like to do is trying to find the Buddha in movies I watch. Kind of like a Dharma Where’s Waldo game.  I love movies and see a lot of them so I get a lot of practice at this.  One of the strangest places I’ve found the Buddha nature is in the villain Jigsaw from the Saw horror movies.

Jigsaw is a perfect example of a bodhisattva lacking the Right View.

A bodhisattva is someone who has achieved a state of enlightenment yet rejects Nirvana so they might clear away the obstacles preventing others from receiving spiritual awakening.  In a twisted way this is exactly what Jigsaw is doing.  If you haven’t seen the Saw movies what happens is Jigsaw finds various victims and forces them to play a game with him that will either end in the victim’s death or their enlightenment.  Unfortunately spiritual awakening comes at a pretty hefty price in the games.  If you lose a game you will die and Jigsaw will gut a puzzle piece out of your flesh to symbolize you were missing a piece of yourself to be complete.

Jigsaw wants you to win the game and those who do are better people after it.  Most of the survivors are so grateful for the experience they become disciples of Jigsaw and help him play his games with others

One example of a game is where a girl is cheating on these two men and the love triangle has become incredibly toxic.  Both men have begun stealing things to keep the woman happy, ditching college classes to be with her and basically losing themselves in the chaos of the bad relationship.  Three people destroying their lives because of unhealthy attachments and the inability to let go.  This is the ideal environment for a Jigsaw game.  The rules of the game are simple, suspended above a spinning concrete cutting blade is the girl who is slowly lowering onto the saw blade. On each side of the saw are the two men who have the ability to push the blade into one another, killing their rival and saving the girl.  If either of the men fails to push the saw into the other, the woman will fall onto it and die.  They have sixty seconds to decide (SPOILER in a ‘bro’s before ho’s’ moment then men decide the girl is the problem and let her die.  Both men go on to become disciples of Jigsaw).

There’s an element of compassion to Jigsaw and several times he chastises his disciples for making games too difficult to win or picking bad contestants to play.

Is Jigsaw a bodhisattva?  Can you forcibly drag a person to spiritual awakening?  If so, should you?  I think he is a bodhisattva who isn’t practicing Right View.  However he does get results.

Another even more important question we should ask ourselves is why could Jigsaw possibly choose you to play a game?  What are you holding onto that you know is harming you yet you feel powerless to let it go?  If you know what that thing is, can you let it go lovingly?  Can you forgive yourself and love yourself enough not to do harm?  If you know what’s causing you pain, what’s preventing you from letting it go?  Can you let it go?  If not…

“I want to play a game.”

“Live or die.  Make your choice.”

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