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The Buddha at Work - "Bodhichitta and Cee-Lo's 'F**k You!'"

My heart breaks for Cee-Lo. Have you heard this song? Poor baby! I know there are more skillful ways for him to handle his pain, but after you hear it, there's no arguing--he's hurting!



I see you driving 'round town
With the girl I love and I'm like,
Fuck you!

I know, he's not doing himself any favors by clinging to that anger. But who among us hasn't done the same?  

Here's Thich Nhat Hanh on the subject:

"When a person's speech is full of anger, it is because he or she suffers deeply. Because he has so much suffering, he becomes full of bitterness. He is always ready to complain and blame others for his problems..."

Hearing angry speech, we can practice compassionate listening!

"...to understand and transform anger, we must learn the practice of compassionate listening and using loving speech. There is a Bodhisattva--a Great Being or an Awakened person--who is capable of listening very deeply with a lot of compassion. She is called Kwan Yin or Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. We must all learn the practice of deep listening like this Bodhisattva...

...listening with compassion can help the other person to suffer less. Yet, even if you have the best intentions, you cannot listen deeply unless you train yourself in the art of compassionate listening. If you can sit down quietly and listen compassionately to that person for one hour, you can relieve a lot of his suffering. Listen with only one purpose: to allow the other person to express himself and find relief from his suffering."

Listen to it again, and really be willing to feel Cee-Lo's pain!

You think I'm joking, right? But there's a real opportunity here to awaken our own bodhichitta. It's easy to think of this song as simply entertainment, as a silly anthem encouraging us to laugh off our pain, to blame others for our hurt. But how familiar is that feeling? As Pema Chödrön teaches us:

"We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us. We always have this choice....

...an analogy for bodhichitta is the rawness of a broken heart. Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment, and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we're unking. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. The continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all."

Underneath the hardness of that loud, funny fuck you is a genuine heart of sadness. How often do we hear that fuck you in the workplace, masking tenderness and deep suffering? It's easy to laugh and join in with our own fuck yous, or to harden with our own aggressive fuck yous, but we always have the opportunity to listen deeply.

Here's Thich Nhat Hanh again:

"The meaning of the word Avalokitesvara is 'the one who looks deeply into the world and hears the cries of the world.'; This voice relieves our suffering and suppressed feelings, because it is the voice of someone who understands us deeply -- our anguish, despair, and fear. When we feel understood, we suffer much less."

Don't we all want that? To feel understood? To practice deep listening is to practice understanding. Cee-Lo's not a bad place to start.

Ain't that some shit?

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Furthering the dialogue...

To begin, I want to say that I am responding because I enjoyed reading this post, and I have been researching a lot of the same of the same writers you have. I especially liked the Thich Nhat Hahn references. I just got done re-reading "No Death, No Fear", from which I feel have learned from.

I think Cee-lo's recent music is quite interesting, to say the least. I just listened to the second track that's floating around the internet now, called "I Want You". Instrumentally and perhaps spiritually speaking, Cee-lo is creating some daring artwork here. I'm not sure how much I want to opine about it, but it certainly piques my interest, as well as it piques many others' interest, judging by how quickly "F*** You" became viral.

I think you bring up good points about the amount of suffering beneath, about the genuine heart of sadness there. I like how you pointed out that this is an opportunity for all of us to listen deeply; I agree.

I hear more than lyrics when I listen to musicians sing, and this might sound really dumb, but I hear the sounds they are making. I feel the sounds they are making express their feelings, beliefs, emotions, and dreams as much as, if not more than the meaning they are relaying to the audience. I hear them chant. I humbly encourage you, reader, to listen to musicians chant too, and to chant your own hymns. Just listen to the sounds. Listen to Bjork, Dirty Projectors, Jonsi, Animal Collective, et. al.; listen to them emit tones. Personally, I enjoy the tones beneath Cee-lo's lyrics. As for the lyrics... I mean, you be the judge. It's whatever you think, maybe.

Cee-lo has achieved fame, but he has not been without his share of hard times. He has been through very hard times. As I'm sure everyone knows, there has been much public outcry about "F*** You". In my estimation, this outcry results from individuals who don't want to hear that sadness, who don't want to be reminded of impermanence. Cee-lo sings to sing; he sings for a living. And you know the masses. You've seen them everywhere. They buy this stuff. That's how it is.

Interesting dialogue here... if anybody else is reading, you should hop in on this!

Blessings to All. May all be content :)

thanks for your thoughtful response!

makes me want to listen even more deeply for the sounds they are making. thanks again.



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