If you idealise the illusory,
you will beget disappointment,
as you gravitate towards truth.
A Buddhist teen asked how he can rid his infatuation towards superstars, such as movie stars and singers. Here is my extended reply to share… You can gradually substitute the subject of focus by learning more about the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and their teachings. They are not only physically magnificent due to their truly meritorious virtues, with appeal in non-sexual ways, they are also the most spiritually beautiful and inspiring role models we can have. These reflections will help to contrast their lasting greatness versus transient and unenlightened humans’ limitations, and motivate us to emulate the first. You can also streamline such mindfulfulness by practising mindfulness of Buddha (e.g. using the name of Amituofo; Amitabha Buddha).
When it comes to trendy singers, it helps to look objectively at the lyrics of their songs, to realise how they are often very much about overblown emotional agitation, being rather mundane and shallow in substance. There are not many contemporary popular songs that are anywhere near being profound. This should urge you to spend more time on Dharma-learning and practice instead – for progress towards blissful calmness and clarity of greater wisdom, which is so much more beneficial. Even if a pop song is meaningful, to let it play loop indefinitely in your earphones does not help much, although it can help you get tired of it faster!
Given enough time, sooner or later, due to being constantly in the limelight, both expected and intruded, there tends to be less glamorous images of superstars eventually exposed. (Think some celebrities’ mugshots.) You will realise then (if not already), that their glamour is often due to elaborate superficial packaging and make-up to cover flaws – both physically and in character. In short, the glamour is seldom as genuine as it seems. Even some of their publicised words are strategically scripted to maintain or boost their image. Why hanker after the potentially illusory then? Why not prevent disappointment, should reality be otherwise?
We should not demonise anyone or do fault-finding purposely, but it is proven, and a given these days, that many superstars are ‘super’ partly because there are super efforts involved in creating their artificial physical images, with every officially released photograph meticulously hairstyled, dressed, posed and photoshopped, even if some have already gone through much plastic surgery. We can also recall how some stars we used to like have since changed, to be older and less attractive. If this is the natural tendency of our fickle attachment to the external and fleeting, why have needless heartache later by clinging to any idealised imagery now?
Superstars’ film and musical personas, that many cling to, are not their true characters. Their real lives could be less interesting. They could be more wonderful too, though fiction is usually more intriguing – which is why we watch movies and listen to songs at all! A truly super superstar would urge their fans to further their compassion and wisdom, while being a good example, instead of merely seeking more fans for more fortune – which would be a waste of fame. That said, we all already have varying degrees of popularity in our communities. We are thus ‘stars’ too. May we, with mindfulness of Buddha as a guide, shine more brightly with greater compassion and wisdom, to be better spiritual ‘superstars’ who make the world a better place!
If you idealise the true,
you will realise enlightenment,
as you gravitate towards truth.
Are You Mindful Of Your Spiritual Superstar?
Understanding Amituofo Via The Amitabha Sutra (13th Run)
The Faith Factor: Strengthening Faith Through The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land (Run 4)