Video: GARBAGE BAG BUDDHA: A Birthday Message

It’s my birthday and I’ll make saccharine Buddhist videos if I want to 👌🏻

May contain: My thoughts on the year that passed and what I’ve learned, unsubtle metaphors, Michoacano handicrafts, accepting and letting go, mind-bending earnestness.

Find more Buddhist and Refuge Recovery videos on my YouTube channel, like the Guided Breathing Meditation, and Oral History of the Refuge Recovery Book.

Full Transcription

photo of a buddha statue surrounded by packing paper and a black plastic bag
Garbage Bag Buddha, screenshot from the video.

So it’s my birthday

I’m 35 now, and it’s probably been the best year of my life, at least, the best one in a long, long time

I’m sober, and was sober the whole time I was 34, which has never happened before

Sometimes that feels like a miracle, other times like the only sane choice I could have made

Which gives a bit of a dark spin to all those previous years

Those years I spent running away from the things I didn’t like

Running into the arms of things I thought could fix it

But they didn’t fix it, they always made it worse


So I guess I just wanted to talk to you about this Buddha statue I got

It’s from a small town in Michoacan, a state here in Mexico

It was super cheap, from store with all kinds of different religious and decorative statues

They wrapped it in paper and put it in this bag for me to take home

When I was unwrapping it, I got stuck

This moment here

The Buddha, so peaceful, resting

Wrapped in a black plastic, twisted tape, torn paper

A garbage flower, opening to the world for the first time


Do you get it? it’s a metaphor

Because for the last year, I’ve been studying and practicing Buddhism

And Buddhism teaches us to work towards an inner peace

An acceptance of the world as it is

Of ourselves and others, as we are, without judgement

If we can get to that place, says Buddhism, we’ll be ok

Nothing can hurt us

We can be like this chill-ass Buddha here

Not giving any fucks, in all the right ways


But no one ever said it would be easy

First you have to look around and see the mess

Not just see it, but know it, accept it

The stuff you did, the stuff that just happened to you

Whatever it is you’ve been hiding from, running from

You have to look right at it, close your eyes, and let it go

Then you have to open your eyes again, and when it’s still there, let go again

And again and again and again

Training that muscle, the one that lets go


And you’re still wrapped in a garbage bag,

And you can never really get out of it completely

But each moment you accept things as they are, you feel clean and new

And when it’s time to make a decision, you don’t choose based on your fears

You can see what’s really there, and start cutting your way out

Slowly, surely


See, the metaphor is pretty good

You aren’t the garbage bag, and you aren’t the paper underneath

You are not your problems, or all the shit you do to avoid them

You are the cheap Buddha statue from Michoacan

Not sure of your purpose, illegitimate and counterfeit in so many ways

But holding so much potential and beauty

Ready to wake up, ready to live at ease

Ready to be of service to yourself and the world


Happy birthday to me, and to all of you wherever you are

May you be safe, and well, and protected

May you be free from all suffering, self-inflicted and otherwise

May you be happy, celebrated and contented with what you have

May you live at ease, filled with acceptance for things just as they are

Screenshot of jer with eyes closed and hands in prayer
May all beings live at ease

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