• Courtney Heard

Atheist Life Hacks : How To Resist The Charms Of The Buddha

Friday could not have come at a better time. Think about that one for a sec. Go on, toss it around your wet noodle and let me know what comes out.

When I was in my early 20s, going to college and getting financially battered by it, I decided to move back home briefly to avoid going into such profound debt that it would make satan shit his britches. At the time, my parents had crammed more Asian kids in their home than there were on the entire island of Bali (beautiful, btw). Why had they done this? Because my parents fucking love children and have, to this day, devoted most of their lives to teaching, helping, and empowering kids and young adults to become amazing adults, yours truly included. If there are heroes in the world, my parents certainly fit the description.

So they crammed as many Asian kids in their home as they possibly could. At the time, we lived in a town in Canada that was close to 60% Asian. GodDAMN (no holy), we had some great food in that town. I’ve been to more countries than I can count at the moment, and the best fucking food in the world is in this little town in BC. Budanywayz, some of the Asian immigrants would bring their kids and leave them in homestays so they could go back to Hong Kong or Taiwan or mainland China to continue their work there. Naturally, we felt bad for these kids because they were basically being abandoned by their parents in a foreign country with a family they don’t know and who doesn’t even speak the same language or eat the same food, etc. It was truly heartbreaking to see. One of the sadder things about it, was that most of these parents were pretty well off, and were not doing this out of necessity. It was more or less just that their kids got in the way, so why not hire someone else to raise them?

Originally, the point of homestays was to learn English – live with an English speaking family for a short spell and pick up the language faster. But the parents ended up seeing it as a permanent, round the clock babysitter. It was truly fucked up. And every last one of those parents was a Buddhist, so there’s your Buddhist morality for you.

Every once in a while though, my parents would get a college aged kid, around my age who just wanted to learn English. My brother from another motherland, K-dog, was one such student. He moved in just before I had decided to move back, so we were living there at the same time. I was briefly introduced to him, and said hi and all that, and then went about my own business for the first couple of days.

On the third night I was there, it was around 3am (Godless Mom doesn’t sleep), I heard something at the front door. I was in the middle of reading, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Eventually, I worked up the courage to check it out, grabbing my brother’s hockey stick on the way. What I found on the other side was a very, very, very intoxicated Taiwanese homestay named K-dog. He had been trying to fit his house key into the mail slot to unlock the door.

grey goose

Is regurgitated Grey Goose still classy?

I helped him upstairs, to the bathroom where he hurled up 3 bottles of grey goose and what could have only been a street vendor hot dog. It took a lot, because he was pretty much twice my size, but I got him into bed. The entire time, he was trying to talk to me in Chinese.

This scenario is one of the few human experiences that guarantees a lifelong bond. K-dog and Godless Mom were now friends for life.

Over the next few weeks, my friends and I took my new brother camping, we took him to bars and out to shows. Within a couple of weeks he was almost fluent, his strongest areas being vocab centred around beer, music lyrics and hockey. We’d given him a crash course in Canadianity and he passed with flying colours. Now, he wanted to teach me a thing or two about Taiwan.

The first thing K-dog did to this end,  was cook for us, traditional Taiwanese food – salt-crusted fish on a barbecue, Chinese sausages and dumplings that were so fucking good I almost took them to bed with me. As a foodie, I enjoyed every minute of it.

He also showed me photos of his family and of where he lived in Taiwan and his two dogs back home. Seemed like a pretty similar life to ours.

And then, K-dog insisted on taking me to a Buddhist temple. I’d been to plenty before, as they are everywhere in the town we lived in, but always just as a tourist, an onlooker. K-dog wanted to take me to experience what a Buddhist does at temple.

Always absolutely fascinated with all mythology and religion, I said yes and went with him.

I was sure we were headed to one of the epic temples in the town that loom over the other structures on the street, glittering with gold and shiny red tiles, and wafts of incense tumbling over the walls of their elaborately decorated courtyards. But we were not.

Instead, he took me to the tallest office building downtown, the ground floor of which was a massive Chinese mall. I was confused but I followed him as we got into the elevator and went to the top floor. When the elevator doors opened I saw a seemingly endless room that was gold from the top to the bottom. Literally, every last bit of it was gold. Even the fucking floor. I had been born and raised in this town, and had no idea this existed at all.

After taking off his shoes, K-dog walked up to a giant round-bellied Buddha and looked as if he was praying. I took off my own shoes and followed him. He led me further into the room to the massive golden wall and started to do what looked like yoga. I guess you get down on your knees and do all these gestures that symbolize different aspects of the Buddha. K-dog explained it’s to knock the ego down a peg.

While he was stretching in a room worth more than an NFL team, in order to knock his ego down, I wandered. And I wandered right into the open clutches of the very first Buddha pusher I had ever met.

She greeted me with one of those wicked smiles that is clearly after nothing more than my soul. I looked at her, frozen with the same terror I felt at my cousin’s baptism. The terror of having to converse with the fucking borg about fucking nonsense. I tried to look away, realizing I’d made the mistake of eye contact, and take a step back, but she’d got me. And she had pamphlets. Holy moses with a boner, no holy, she had a lot of pamphlets.

I wasn’t afraid I’d be assimilated at all, my total and complete inability to make sense of anything even remotely religious in any way guarantees I could never and will never be assimilated by any Jeebot, Buddhatrooper or Robozealot, ever. But I still didn’t want to have to defend why I don’t believe their fairy tales. Not on that day, it had been such a great day up until that point.

But alas, I was forced to. I was pushed into a corner by little miss Buddhabonkers, and handed pamphlets while she tried to explain to me how my life would be better as a Buddhist. I explained over and over, “I am an Atheist, no thank you”.  I don’t think she understood what I was saying, with the language barrier and all, but she could certainly tell by my body language that I was not going to be a Buddha recruit.

Her voice started to get louder and I could barely understand what she was saying with the heavy accent. She was opening the pamphlets now and pointing to different photos and saying shit about peace and humbleness and all that bullshit that religious people spew but have no fucking idea what it actually means.

“You need the Buddha, Lady!” She finally yelled at me.



Humble and Peaceful Buddha

“I suppose it’s humbling to leave your children with a foreign family in a foreign country while you’re in Hong Kong making your fortune? That sounds like an incredible virtue to have. I suppose it’s a peaceful thing to do, to bring a child into this world and then dump them on someone else, essentially ruining their lives? Yes, the throngs and piles of Buddhists I’ve known certainly seemed peaceful and humble with their Temple parking lots filled with fucking Mercedes’, Lexus’, Beamers and Hummers. How humble of you to come to Canada, purchase a 7 million dollar monstrosity of a home and leave it empty while you make millions running a factory in China that pays it’s impoverished workers 50 cents per day.” I yelled. “Yes. Buddhists epitomize humbleness and peacefulness. Listen, when you can figure out the difference between right and wrong, and what is good and what is not all on your own without some fatass, bare-bellied ghost telling you, then you can come talk to me about how you think I can make my life better. Until then, I will kindly ask you to shut the fuck up.”

Now, granted, it was a long time ago, and I don’t recall exactly what I said word for word, but that up there was the gist.

Hearing me upset, K-dog came around the corner and asked if everything was ok. After seeing the look on my face, proceeded to get very angry with our lovely little belly-buffer, all in Chinese.

We left, as he apologized profusely and I kept telling him it’s no big deal. I just didn’t want to get into a religious debate is all. I felt bad for him that she’d ruined his attempt to show me what his world was all about. I felt equally as bad that up until that point, I had always assumed Buddhism didn’t try to recruit like Christianity does.

But I guess what the moral of this story boils down to is, there are two types of religious people. One type, I have no problem with and can bond so tightly and so eternally with that I consider them family, and the other type who try to push their beliefs on others, who brag about the virtues their religion instills in them while actually having none of those virtues, and who would likely die or kill for what they believe. Fuck that type. Fuck them hard in their religion gland.

These types are what make me loathe religion. When I come to see what your shit is all about with my friend, all the while being respectful enough to keep my criticisms to myself, which are many and begin with the sheer amount of fucking gold in a place promoting humbleness, and you back me into a corner essentially forcing me to come at you with what I really think? Can’t you just learn to leave people the fuck alone?

I wish I could give you a happy ending to this story, but I can’t. K-dog has since converted to Christianity. One of my Bibles is a gift from him. Sigh. Still. Lots of love.

What experiences have you had with Buddhism? Have you ever met someone trying to push it on you?



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