Lots of Buddhist monasteries have terrifying illustrations of suffering beings trapped in cyclical existence. Now, Samsung‘s Swedish branch is offering you the chance to enter a monastery as a living example of one! (That is, if you agree that spending 76 hours figuring out how Ted Mosby met his kids’ mom is the epitome of samsaric suffering.) This month, Samsung is awarding a “Catch Up Grant.” The winner gets 100 days to binge-watch television in a beautiful, remote Buddhist monastery — and get paid to do it. The retreat location, Thikse Gompa, is a 600-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monastery in a remote region of Northern India. What better place to “leave reality behind,” as the contest suggests?
It would seem this campaign is deliberately trying to be ironic, yet there is no indication on Samsung’s site that this is the case. Of course, who are we to judge? In her recent article, “Can Angry Birds calm your thoughts?,” video game researcher Jane McGonigal recalled a Buddhist monk who played video games as a way to settle down after a day of practice. And, in “The Dharma of Distraction,” Judy Lief posits that, when it comes to practice, you can relate to technology the same way you relate to any distractive thought: “distractions and the path pretty much go hand in hand. You could even consider distractions to be your best teachers.” So, who knows? Maybe a monastery isn’t a bad place to contemplate Netflix.
Entries for the contest closed on Sunday, but stay tuned. Samsung announces the winner on October 26.
If you are looking for some inspiration for your own binge-watch, here are a few of our favorite Buddhist (or “Buddhish”) moments on Netflix:
- Portlandia‘s “Meditation Crush”
- House of Card‘s Sand Mandala
- Tig, the documentary about comedian Tig Notaro, whose suffering-smart comedy Rod Meade Sperry explores in “Wise Fools“
- This Orange Is the New Black shoutout to Pema Chödrön (in fact, don’t miss our new teaching by Pema, “The Fine Art of Failing“)
- The Big Lebowski, which Andrea Miller explores in “The Dude and the Zen Master“
- Little Buddha
- When the Iron Bird Flies, which features the Dalai Lama, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel, Matthieu Ricard, Reginald Ray, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and Richard Gere.
- Birdman (on Canadian Netflix) for its shoutout to Thich Nhat Hanh
- Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (on Canadian Netflix), which stars Buddhist humanitarian Michelle Yeoh