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The Last Jedi: It’s Zen Buddhism, Stupid + Netflix Punisher
The Last Jedi: It’s Zen Buddhism, Stupid + Netflix Punisher

The Last Jedi: It’s Zen Buddhism, Stupid + Netflix Punisher



Podcast links:

CNN article: “The spiritual message hidden in “Star Wars”

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi
It’s Zen Buddhism, Stupid

First of all, let me say that The Last Jedi just changed the rules on everyone, especially since it’s made a shitload of money. Money equals everybody else copying you, which means, GOOD LUCK SUCKERS to any other studio that tries to make their blockbuster do what The Last Jedi just got away with.

Whoever’s making the next Star Trek movie and trying to shoehorn a heroic Captain Kirk in there but aiming to make it more “edgy” like The Last Jedi, you’re fucked. If you don’t believe me, look at how they tried to insert the word “fuck” into the Star Trek Discovery TV show, and how that was relevant for, like, a day. Compare that with Luke milking a space sea lion, then drinking the warm stuff straight, no chaser.

Tarantino is about to make an R-rated Star Trek, but I think it will either look like it isn’t even Star Trek anymore, or it will be corporate suits trying to censor Tarantino’s nutso genius. If you can’t let Quentin play 100% in his sandbox, you shouldn’t even let him near it. The Paramount suits will have to let him gut the franchise to its core and obliterate its established tropes in order to make something fresh that people will pay to go see. The next Star Trek movie cannot have the typical 1) Hero is bored and Starfleet life is good, 2) Something bad happens and a new bad guy is introduced, 3) Hero and crew must join together to figure it out, 4) Somebody learns something during the whatever that happens that will carry over to the next film, 5) Hero figures out a cool maneuver that solves the problem, 6) The end, and not much has changed. There hasn’t been anything fresh from Star Trek since Spock originally died in Wrath of Khan. Think about it. AND DATA DOESN’T FRIGGIN’ COUNT, especially when his replacement was already singing Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies at the very end of the same movie where the original Data died!

I’m using Star Trek as an example, but this could be applied to other franchises. Take the X-Men, for example–unless Fox can wholeheartedly accept and leave alone a motley production crew to produce another Logan or Deadpool (I think Deadpool 2’s gonna suck, more on that later), the X-Men is going to continue to be the watered-down PG-13 safezone that isn’t quite sure whether its audience is children that want slam-bang superheroes with infinite powers, or adults that want to study the tortured psyche side of Chris Claremont’s original intentions. The X-Men is and has always been the ugly (but ridiculously popular) stepchild of Marvel Comics, but its movie versions (except for Logan) have tried to present themselves as The Avengers who wear black leather. EVERY X-Men movie, from the first one in 2000, should have been rated R, and the aftermath of every room where Wolverine fought should have looked like a slaughterhouse in the middle of July. Those claws don’t cauterize wounds like a lightsaber, bub.

Okay, back to The Last Jedi. In my opinion, it is easily the most zen of the Star Wars movies. Why? Because the true meaning of zen isn’t day spas, polished stones and taking naps on bamboo furniture. Zen is SHIT HAPPENS. Zen isn’t about happiness, but happiness is zen. Zen isn’t about sadness, but sadness is also zen. Zen isn’t about heroic deeds or lightsabers or hearing angels singing a John Williams’ theme song. Zen isn’t about clean endings. It isn’t about clear explanations. Zen isn’t about blindly following something just because it’s what you’re supposed to do. Zen is harmonious and chaotic at the same time. Zen presents the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.


Luke isn’t the hero, he doesn’t want to be the hero. Rey isn’t 100% against what Kylo is doing, and Kylo’s lizard brain won’t let him put a shirt on. The X-Wing is underwater and one of its panels has been rigged as Luke’s door. His Return of the Jedi lightsaber is probably at the bottom of the ocean also. Phasma’s shiny as hell but keeps falling down indeterminate chutes. Hux has been turned into a sniveling ninny and Kylo is now a ruler that isn’t quite sure he wants to rule.

Rey’s parents are addicts who sold their daughter to Unkar Plutt for hooch money.

Poe Dameron is the closest to a Captain Kirk character, but unlike Kirk, none of what Poe does saves the day, including destroying all the surface cannons of the dreadnought–that only led to the decimation of the entire bomb squadron.

Leia isn’t the hero either—hell, the character doesn’t even die in this one when we all thought she absolutely had to! How fucking zen is that?!

So why do people continue to pay money to see this movie, if very little of it is predictable, hardly any of it clearly identifies the hero or any type of protagonist, there was no resolution at the end, and the good guys didn’t really win. Hell, the good guys ran the fuck away! How’s that for your ending?

The more I think about this movie, the more I adore it, because I am destined to be an iconoclast. At least until some fat cat offers me a healthy and ironclad retirement plan in exchange for continued delusional forecasts (lies) of the world as we know it.

The Last Jedi is honest in its self-reflection. Just like Rey looked in the mirror and saw nothing but herself, that the actual change will have to come from her and not from some crutch that is her heritage, this movie realized that unless it did something different and radical, it will simply be repeating the safe routes taken by every other guaranteed blockbuster with a $200 million budget. Rian Johnson, the director and writer, decided that that’s not good enough anymore. Not for Star Wars.


Although many fanboys got butthurt during Luke’s deconstruction of his legend, I smiled at every reveal, because I recognized it as very much like buddhism. There’s a saying in buddhism, “If you see the buddha, kill it.” It’s not to be taken literally, but more like buddhism isn’t about some leader, or some dude who has all this buddhist/zen power. Buddhism isn’t about having any special powers. And anyone who says that they really know what’s going on is full of shit.

Buddhism is about getting rid of everything except the awareness of your mind. It’s about getting rid of that yoga mat so that you are able to feel discomfort sitting on dirt and rocks. It’s about getting rid of old successes and failures, so that you may try something new, and when that something new works, or doesn’t, you also should be able to leave that behind, in order to try something else.

It’s about throwing that lightsaber away.

It’s about not worrying about the “inappropriateness” of milking a Thala-Siren, or looking away like Rey did, as if a Thala-Siren even gave a damn. It’s like a cow, it offers milk, if you’re gonna survive on that island you need nourishment, and there it is. It’s a tiny commentary on social mores, of our perceptions, of how a mother breastfeeding her child in public is one hundred percent about survival, even though our programmed puritanical minds want to categorize it as pornography.

It’s about recognizing that even if you’re the most powerful Force user in the galaxy, you still need to eat something, and you need to go spearfishing for it, and you need to carry the damn thing on your shoulder, and no aspect of this process is, or should be, “heroic”.

It’s about realizing that hand-to-hand combat in real life often leads to more defeats than victories, and that running away is also an acceptable solution, especially when you can save more lives that way.

Just as we, here, do not have one hero that we turn to, so it is in The Last Jedi. Every person tries to help and many times they don’t succeed. When something goes right, you’re not quite sure whom to give credit to, but you’re just happy that something went right.

We live, we fight, we survive, and along the way a whole bunch of weirdness and spectacles happen. That, in a nutshell, is zen.

To those who hated The Last Jedi and still crave the Star Wars that they grew up with, I say grow up or just keep watching your old DVDs.

To those who hated The Last Jedi because things and heroes and battles didn’t make sense, I say try to explain to me what the hell is happening in the Middle East right now. Explain to me American politics. Tell me who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in Washington D.C.

Tell me if milk is supposedly good for you, or bad for you. (I stole that one from Lewis Black.)

There’s an old zen story about a buddhist monk and his student. Both men were walking home during a strong storm, when they came upon a portion of the road that the rain had turned into a large puddle. A concubine was standing next to it, deciding how to cross.

The master offered to carry the concubine on his back so she could cross without getting wet or tripping into the puddle. The concubine agreed and jumped on the monk’s back, and they crossed together. At the far end, the monk let the concubine get back on her feet and on her way. The monk and his student went their own way and walked home in silence.

Arriving at the monastery, the student couldn’t contain himself any longer and said to the monk, “Master, we are sworn to chastity and are forbidden to interact with women, especially concubines. Why did you do that?”

The master simply said, “I left her back there, after we crossed the puddle. Why are you still carrying her?”



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Music Credits

The Daily Knight’s theme music is “Bluesy Vibes” by Doug Maxwell/Media Right Productions, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution License:

Music Source: