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The Buddha Freestyles: Heavy D and Bodhicitta

The Buddha Freestyles is a new WEEKLY (yes, I’m back to writing weekly for IDP) column where I will take a quote from hip-hop and occasionally other forms of music and interpret, ironically, how it relates to living a life of mindfulness and compassion. Have a suggested lyric? Send it over.


“Now that we found love what are we gonna do with it” – Heavy D and the Boyz


Here Heavy D takes a very common approach to teaching where instead of giving us dogmatic instruction for how to develop bodhicitta he poses a question to students of the dharma, inviting us to figure it out for ourselves.

It is said that once the Buddha attained enlightenment he sought out a group of ascetics that he had previously been meditating with for quite some time. He thought that if anyone could comprehend his simple truths it would be them. However, these ascetics had already written the Buddha off. He had taken food and thus was considered less holy than their rigorous selves. They had decided to ignore the Buddha, had written him out of the will, defriended him on Facebook, the whole nine yards.

However, as the Buddha approached they could not help but be magnetized to his presence. He was radiant and they were drawn to him. They asked him how they could attain this state of awakening. At that time the Buddha could have listed what to eat, what not to eat, his ten commandments, whatever. Instead, he issued a simple invitation: “Come and see for yourselves.”

2600 years later Heavy D is offering us this same invitation.  If you have been meditating for a period of time you may have experienced a softening around your heart. After a few weeks of regular practice or a weekend meditation retreat you may have walked away feeling more vulnerable, yet recognizing the potent strength behind that softness. This strong yet vulnerable heart is bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is a Sanskrit term that can be translated as “open heart.”

Bodhicitta is the well-spring from which we can offer unconditional love to all beings. Here Heavy D offers us the question: now that you have touched your soft spot, your bodhicitta, what are you going to do?

Having recognized that we have bodhicitta, this awake heart, we could do one of two things, Heavy D. We could ignore it. We could shut down and not pay attention to that sense of vulnerability and continue to perpetuate an existence where we keep our shields up at all times. Or, alternatively, we could explore how open we can be in the midst of daily life.

Having found this deep, unconditional love, we have a real opportunity to relate to our world more fully. While Heavy D and the Boyz offer us a simple question, when considering the two paths presented it seems slightly obvious: we should explore this well-spring of open love and see how much we can offer it to a world that so desperately needs it.

Have a suggested lyric? Send it over.

What Would Sid Do will now live exclusively on the Huffington Post

Lodro's book, The Buddha Walks into a Bar, can be found here

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I've had this exact talk in my head. (Third World version -- love the multilayered vocals.) I love the idea of exploring musical dharma since we swim in a sea of music..

I look forward to reading this each week.

consider including a link to audio/video, pls.


you do know

it was a reggae song by Third World? and that itself was a cover -- the original was recorded by the O'Jays in the 1970s.


Good point

Props given.

great post

I'm so excited to follow this blog, what a great idea. As it is a reflection of post modern culture, a careful dissection of hip hop can offer a lot of insight into our historical situation. http://www.missourireview.com/content/dynamic/view_text.php?text_id=1362

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