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Buddhism in the News


Monday, July 24, 2006

The Funky Buddha Lounge

Apparently there is a bar here in Denver, Colorado called, "The Funky Buddha Lounge" and that in and of itself is disgusting and disturbing.

However, (according to the local news) the other day there was a fight in the parking lot that killed one person. How ignorant and shameful that a bar would use and abuse the name and sacredness of the Buddha in such a way. It is beyond ironicly sad that a person would die a violent death by the hands of a fellow patron of, "The Funky Buddha Lounge!!!"

This misuse and manipulation of the Buddha's image to sell products is nothing new but using it to promote a club/bar??? That is going beyond too far. A bar titled, "The Jesus Lounge: where we turn water into wine" would never fly and there would be so much protest about it that it would never survive but somehow no one cares about using the Buddha in such a way.


-Peace to all beings-

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Amadeus said...

Yeah, that is pushing it.

"Funky Buddha Lounge"? "Buddha", "fight", "killing", and, of course, alcohol...really makes you think what people are smoking when they come up with such a mockery.

cyclingdave said...

the death of the patron is terrible news.

the use of buddha for 'funky buddha' is objectionable. there is however what i understand to be an very succesful nyc bar called the 'buddha bar'. its name has also been associated with the cultural production of music and a 'scene. its cachet may lead to the proliferation of other appropriations of buddha.

linking the buddha to drink is senseless and goes to show just how much misunderstanding there is.

"James" said...


Absurd isn't it?


It's just an aweful story all around.

Joanna Terpstra said...

Muslims put out a Jihad on Salmon Rushdie for less...

Perhaps it's precisely because Buddhism is known for it's peaceful teaching that commercial establishments think they can get away with it.

Religious fundamentalism fights (kills and dies) for it's sacrosanct beliefs. Both Jesus and Mohammed preached peace. Perhaps Buddhists are the only ones to actually practice it.

In a roundabout way, even though I find "Funky Buddha Lounge" offensive, it could be seen as a compliment because it recognizes the spirit of Buddhism.

Chris said...

The irony is there. It bothers me a little too. But I have to ask myself, what bothers me so?

Do I hold the simple word, "Buddha" to be sacred above any other word or phrase? Is it the misconceptions that arise when "Zen" and "Buddha" are used to sell?

We may recoil because we think something sacred has been tainted. But, really, can it truly be? Can the Buddha's teachings be tainted by this. Can our practice be any less now that a horrible incident has taken place at "The Funky Buddha Lounge"?

Maybe we should be careful about what we hold sacred and dear. The Funky Buddha is just a bar. It does not threaten the dharma. "Buddha" is just a word, a label we attach, that can mean many things to many different people.

Let's not get too caught up in this.
Remember the cartoons about Mohammed? Disrespectful, yes, but unfortunately threats of violence followed. Where does all this eventually lead?

"James" said...


Yeah the peaceful teachings of Buddhism is what originallyattracted me to the religion.


I agree with you to a point. I guess the thing that bothers me the most is that people might get the wrong idea about the Buddha and Buddhism from such an establishment. In the end though I guess everyone has to figure things out for themselves.

M.D. Shellhammer said...

Love your point of view, possibly the most enlightened I have come across. It is, I think, important to remember that the Tathagata was not a buddhist. Words are useless and all the tears of all the Buddhas cannot bring enlightenment. Therfore what another does or thinks or says cannot in anyway touch or change what is. Such is the nature of suchness.

mangadezi-jr said...

Yes, I know--we shouldn't take offense, etc . . . but why is it o.k. to appropriate certain images and names, but not others? It's o.k. to have a cartoonish mascot (Cleveland Indians) because it supposedly "honors" American Indians--but you don't see a sports team with any other racial group as mascot, do you? The "Cleveland Blacks" with some cartoonish Sambo mascot wouldn't fly, would it?
But it's o.k. to use and abuse Buddhist names/images-- when Christian ones are held with higher regard. If Andrea Yates had been Mulsim and had said she was told to kill her children by Allah, do you think she would have been found insane or would they have given her the death sentence?
Statues and images may not be the Buddha, but I wouldn't recommend defacing or defiling Buddhist images in Thailand, either. It's simply a matter of respecting each other's beliefs, cultures and customs.
Or is that too much to ask?

Dukkha Earl said...

I have a notion that there will be more of this - like the Buddha Bar mentioned by Cyclingdave, I recall a similar establishment causing a row out in Hawaii a couple of years back. And, I've even seen the Buddha Bar CD label in stores. And Zen tea in the supermarket, and, and, and...

It used to bother me. Now, not so much. Don't know what sparked the change.

Onip said...

I think, we should not put "shame" in our view of this use of Buddha. We should not wish shame on the owner and clients. We could howerver accept this "ignorance" and be compationnate to everyone. No judgement...

Lans said...

First I have to say that the fighting, killing, inexcusable. But I find our being insulted at the use of the image or name of the Buddha in a non-sacred sense, a very interesting study. Part of our path is to lose our attachments, to drop our interpretations of how things appear to be and how things actually are.

We have an attachment to the term Buddha, for obvious reasons. But is this attachment any different than our attachment to our favorite shirt or our favorite chair. I can definitely understand where this attachment comes from.

Maybe examining the source of our objection could prove helpful. Not in the sense of 'The source of my objection is naming a bar after my lifes example' but look inside and search for the source of the negative feelings. If and when we actually do find them, they usually end up being much less important than we thought. The alternative is that we don't find them which would tend to indicate that it might not exist.

Just something we can ponder, I think.

"James" said...


Upon further reflection I agree with you. I should not be attached to an image. In the end,the image of the Buddha is nothing. The misuse of It is certainly nothing to loose my peace over. It can be just as much an attachment as any other kind. Attachment is attachment. Thank-you all for you insights.

It is always a gift to hear gentle reminders to step back and be mindful of why I care so deeply about such things.

Reflection brough to mind that I was clinging to nothing...grasping at a thought, a perception. Trying to grasp and grab onto the wind... and that will always cause frustration that is not necessary in the least.

In reality I wasn't trying to defend the "Buddha" but my ego.

Damn spiritual materialism. Hehe.

Sneeky ego. :)

maxie said...

I work at the funky buddha lounge. the name was originally taken from a bar in chicago. it was not a bar of violence, hate, or malice. the fight that took place was a random occurrence. both parties were guilty of ignorance that has led to the death of a 25 year old pilot and the most likely incarceration of a 25 year old newly married man. the story is simple, white male makes racial comment about asian male, two hits later many lives are changed for ever.

it is sad from both sides. these were real people like you and me, not soulless “patrons” spawned form the evil funky buddha lounge. they made a choice and there were consequences. the fact that it happened at a place with buddha in its name does not make it worse or better. i do not believe the lounge was ever trying to mock buddhism or buddha, it was a name to reflect an environment. I do agree that if there were a bar referring to christianity people would be up in arms, but I don't always think of peace and honesty when it comes to its history. unfortunately bars can become shady places and its quite possible the funky buddha lounge has lost its peace.

I don't feel angry at what has happened, and I don't blame one side more than the other. what happened that night is a reflection of society and human kind. buddhism recognizes people struggle with each other and with themselves. we have all learned so much from this close to home disaster. there are so many things going on in the world and its important not to turn a cheek to it. anger, sadness and hate are emotions we all feel, buddhism teaches us how to deal with these emotions with compassion. events like these are publicized in ways to alter the reality of our perceptions. maybe it happened at the funky buddha lounge for a reason, buddhism does not condone violence, but it doesn't ignore it either.

"James" said...


I guess my biggest problem is the use of the Buddha in connection with the consumption of alcohol.

However, I am not going to let myself get caught up in anger and emotion any more over this issue.

To each their own.

Joanna Terpstra said...

In Yamba (Australia) we had a delicatessen named "The Deli Lama", obviously a pun on the Dalai Lama. I could see the humour in it but since most of what it sold was dead animals cut up on trays and presented under glass to all who passed, I for one was pleased when it closed down.

"James" said...


Yeah that is a odd one too. said...

Dear James... given your comments on the Lounge, it'd be interesting to see what you think about the stuff on this website:

found your comments interesting, and appreciated the ensuing dialogue.

"James" said...


Thanks for the comments, I dig your website. :) I look forward to going through all the material there.

Welcome to my humble abode in the blangha. I would love to add your site to my links if you wouldn't mind. :)

-I bow to the Buddha within you friend.

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