Life on Mars with Louis C. K. and the Buddha
The year is 2318. Humanity has been united under a single banner for the past two centuries. Hunger has been eradicated, wars are a thing of the past, cheese is now good for your health, and breadsticks literally grow on trees. Artificial trees, but still. Most people agree that this is the highest quality of life the planet’s population has ever experienced. Mars, however, is a different story.
While they have certainly evolved as a civilization, the group of people sent to Mars to colonize still have it rough. Well, rough by 2318 standards. They’re still better off than most people in 2017. The original village grew into a city and eventually into a nation. All roads lead to the original city, now the capital, Elonia.
Two citizens walk past the enormous 40-foot statue of Elon Musk, the first King of Mars, on their way to work. The two are tasked with one of the most important jobs on the planet – producing food. As they reach the airlock to Garden A38-RX693, a strange white light envelops the two Elonians and rips them from their timelines.
“I like pressure. Pressure doesn’t make me crack,” says the first one to change, as the airlock mechanism depressurizes the room and he steps through. The doors close behind him as the second person, a tall, thin, dark-haired man follows close behind. “It’s enabling. I eat pressure, and there might be times when I get a bad feeling in my gut that this might be too much, but you feel pressure when you’re not doing something, you know?”
“It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways,” retorts Siddhartha Gautama, with a serene smile on his face.
“[No, I was just making a pun. Because we’re in the airlock… Pressure…? Never mind],” replies the first man, a balding, pudgy, ginger, middle-aged guy with a goatee. “[But since you brought it up], I’m really curious about what people think they’re doing when they’re doing something evil, casually. I think it’s really interesting, that we benefit from suffering so much, and we excuse ourselves from it.”
“All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?” asks the Buddha, giving Louis C.K. something to think about. “[And about your pun], whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”
“[Well, yeah.] What comedy really is is connecting with a group of people, and just speaking at a heightened level without any barriers and saying things that are raw, and having people really respond to it,” argues Louis as the depressurization finally ends. “To me, the goal of comedy is to just laugh, which is a really high-hearted thing, visceral connection and reaction.”
The two make their way into the garden built under a bump in the terrain. They change from their space suits into their work clothes, identical pairs of blue overalls, and start spraying the plants with a number of 23rd century-exclusive chemicals. As they do so, the comedian speaks again in his usual self-deprecating, amusing demeanor.
“[All this food, man. How are we sustaining this?],” he asks suddenly. “I don’t stop eating when I’m full. The meal isn’t over when I’m full. It’s over when I hate myself.”
“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance,” advises the sage.
“[I agree but it’s not that easy,]” answers Louis, determined to explain to this man he’s never seen before but has somehow known for years that most people know how to act properly but it’s just not that easily doable in our day and age. “Of course I should spend less than I earn, save for the future, live within my means and stay out of credit card debt. Delayed gratification can be a beautiful thing. Of course, I should save more than I earn… But maybe, instant gratification is much easier than planning ahead for goals that are decades out into the future. And maybe buying material possessions with the swipe of a tiny piece of plastic feels better for me right now. I can always save later.”
“What we think, we become,” answers Gautama. “To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.”
“[Control my mind? That’s insane to me,]” says the pudgy comedian as he’s spraying the plants with a solution which will make them yield eight times the product they normally would. “Every day starts, my eyes open and I reload the program of misery. I open my eyes, remember who I am, what I’m like, and I just go, ‘Ugh.’”
“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere,” says Buddha, attempting to show the man in front of him a better way. “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”
“[I can’t love myself, are you kidding me? I can barely stand myself. Take my body for example],” continues Louis. “I finally, I have the body that I want, and that’s a thing people really covet. It’s a hard thing to achieve, and I did. And I’m going to tell you how to have exactly the body that you want. You just have to want a shitty body. That’s all it is. You have to want your own shitty, ugly, disgusting body.”
“What we think, we become,” says the sage. “[In the end, however], no one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”
“It’s hard to know where your thoughts come from, especially when you have a thirst for material because you need it professionally,” explains the comedian. “[But] life is full of horrible mistakes. […] To me, it’s very exhilarating when somebody else does a great thing, and it’s not me. [So, I’m just gonna stick to that.]”
The two fall silent as they put their space suits back on. Before entering the airlock and replacing their helmets, the Bodhisattva utters one more piece of advice before the two are enveloped in a powerful white light and returned to their own timelines.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”