Buddhability Explained: The Bear Edition

(Photo above by Frank Ockenfels / FX)

If you haven’t seen the new FX/Hulu series “The Bear,” spoilers ahead. But if you’ve had a few hours over the weekend and binged it, this is for you.

The show opens with Carmen “Carmy” Berzatto, an award-winning chef attempting to rebuild “The Beef,” an Italian-beef sandwich restaurant left to him by Mickey, his recently deceased older brother. Overwhelmed by his dire financial debt he inherited, Carmy does everything to keep the restaurant afloat. All the while grappling with how to process the grief of losing his brother, a person he desperately sought approval from.

Throughout the series you can feel Mickey’s presence in everything Carmy does, as if he’s living through Carmy. In same way, Buddhism teaches that the bonds we share with family and friends are eternal and indestructible.

Buddhism teaches that the bonds we share with family and friends are eternal and indestructible.

Some may feel that death means cutting all ties with the deceased. But that is not the case. The sound of our chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has the power to reach and help even those who have passed away. The Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda reassures us:

Even if only one family member practices Nichiren Buddhism, the power of the Mystic Law is such that their benefit will permeate the lives of all their deceased family members and relatives.

The Teachings for Victory, vol. 3, p. 75

Buddhism affirms the inseparable bonds that we share with those close to us. Taking it a step further, Buddhism expounds that, because of these bonds, when we become happy, that happiness flows on to our loved ones, too.

It’s natural to be saddened by the death of loved ones. But as we struggle to overcome our pain and sadness, we become more aware of life’s dignity and can develop the empathy to share others’ sufferings as our own.

In the final episode of the series, Carmy is given a note to him left behind by his brother. Tearing open the envelope he reads the following, “I love you dude. Let it rip.” A phrase his older brother often said to him as a form of encouragement.

The first season ends with Carmy renaming the restaurant “The Bear,” his nickname, and closing “The Beef,” symbolizing his fresh start toward his dream. Similarly, with our loved ones in our hearts, we can press ahead in the journey to become unshakably happy and continue to live out our dreams both with and for them.

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