(Photo above Courtesy of Netflix)
If you haven’t binged “Beef” yet, then what have you been up to this year? Just kidding, we all have lives. But if you don’t want any spoilers, pause here. You can go watch it and then come back!
“Beef” is clearly about anger, but it also investigates deeper questions such as how to live a fulfilling life.
Danny Cho, played by Steven Yuen, is a contractor who seems to have all the bad luck in the world. Meanwhile, Amy Lau, played by Ali Wong, is a small business owner who is in the process of selling her company to a home improvement store. When they cut each other off in a parking lot, the road rage drama begins.
Throughout the series, their efforts to destroy each other come to a head when they get into a dramatic physical altercation on a cliff. Yes, we said, cliff. In a heartwarming (kind of) ending, after Danny is shot and is recovering in his hospital bed, Amy spends her days laying by his side. As season one ends, you see him slowly lift his arm to hug her back.
So maybe you didn’t get into a road rage incident that escalated into a succession of ridiculous efforts to bring down the other person, but feeling frustrated and unfulfilled, and then taking those feelings out on others, is real. What can we do to transcend those frustrations?
Buddhists chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the morning and evening, along with reciting brief portions from the Lotus Sutra to tap into the limitless courage, wisdom and compassion needed to address any problem.
As the Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes:
When we chant before the Gohonzon, the door to our inner microcosm instantly opens to the macrocosm of the entire universe, and we savor a serene and boundless happiness, as if gazing out over the entire cosmos. We feel a deep fulfillment and joy along with a feeling of supreme confidence and self-mastery, as if we hold everything in the palm of our hands. The microcosm enfolded by the macrocosm reaches out to enfold the macrocosm in its own embrace.
The Gohonzon, the object of respect in our Buddhist practice, represents a graphical depiction, using words on paper, of our Buddhahood. It expresses the reality that all people, without exception, can reveal their inherent Buddhahood by chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
We all experience various situations each day. At times, we feel great and at others, not so great. Just like the characters in “Beef,” we all have reactions to life’s realities and sometimes lack self-control.
But when we make chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo a priority, we become unshaken by life’s problems.
But when we make chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo a priority, we become unshaken by life’s problems. Not only that, we become people who bring happiness to people in their immediate environment, which in turn, doubles our happiness. Every time we chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, we can redirect our life toward believing in our inherent goodness, or Buddhahood. By using our daily Buddhist practice to confront our challenges, we can live the most fulfilled lives and not be thrown off course by difficult situations and encounters.
Only when we learn to channel the energy we direct toward winning over others into winning over ourselves can we begin to develop our humanity.
Buddhism is the ultimate tool for winning that fight, which ultimately boils down to overcoming the “Beef” we have with ourselves.