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Bodhisattva Lyrics

Bodhisattva
Would you take me by the hand
Bodhisattva
Would you take me by the hand
Can you show me
The shine of your Japan
The sparkle of your China
Can you show me
Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
I'm gonna sell my house in town
Bodhisattva
I'm gonna sell my house in town
And I'll be there
To shine in your Japan
To sparkle in your China
Yes I'll be there
Bodhisattva
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Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group
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Submitted on
May 21, 2002
26 Meanings
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This song, like 'Aja' is a parody of the West's (and I suspect Californian's in specific) over-simplified fascination with Eastern philosophy. All this poor sucker knows is that his so-called Bodhisattva (who is more likely some self-apointed charlatan) has told him to sell his house, and join the frickin' hare krishnas! ... the fool.

It's a joke.

Bingo!!This is the best and most accurate approach on the meaning of the song!!!

Yes. You have seen through the myriad illusions of Maya and now dwell in the clear light of Buddhahood.

Your incisive comment shows are have attained satori.

connecthook.wordpress.com/mine/religions/the-jewel-in-the-center-of-the-lotus-eaters-2/

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i love the mix of jazz in this song. the driving beat with guitar and piano in a way only steely could do.

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Bodhisattvas are sort of like the "priests" of Mahayana Buddhism: they help others reach nirvana ("would you take me by the hand"). The "shine of your Japan" and "sparkle of your China" parts could relate to nirvana, but I'm not sure. The line about selling the house probably links to the Buddhist teaching of nonattachment and that material properties lead to suffering. It may also imply that the speaker is joining a monastic order.

sounds like these guys wanna do an oriental person

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Bodhisattva literally stands for "wisdom-being", i think this song is about a man or woman who is looking for their own enlightenment. "Take me by the hand" (teach me enlightenment), "I'm gonna sell my house in town" (relieving one self of possessions). I think that "the shine of your japan, the sparkle of china" is most definetely about nirvana, first he says "can you show me" (nirvana), then "and i'll be there" (nirvana) I also noticed that the man singing seems ancy and in a hurry, don't know if that relates.

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The repetitive nature of the lyric, especially the repetition of the title over and over at the end, has a chanting quality, the way a prayer is repeated over and over.

And yes, the song is simply about a shallow guy following the Eastern-religion craze, unable to divorce even the names of Japan and China from their consumer connotations. Absolutely smoking song--the Charlie Parker influence really shows through in the long solo section.

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I think there are hints of the real meaning in the posts here.

The song is an eye-rolling satire of Westerner's (Hollywood/California flakes in particular) oversimplified misunderstandings of Eastern 'religion'. The protagonist does want a quick fix. He could be a middle aged guy, someone who's wasted his life, an addict, or someone who has just realized that they are spiritually bankrupt. They've heard that Buddhism has the answers or so it seems to them.

They reach out to a teacher. The teacher may be a charlatan, as many have suggested (like the Beatle's reference in Sexy Sadie) or they may be legit. This is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the protagonist thinks that they can follow a set of rules or a recipe to achieve enlightenment or happiness. Rather than doing the hard work of self-assessment and self-improvement, they want the "Cliff's Notes" version of spirituality. They seek to copy off of the teacher's paper, so to speak.

"Sell my house in town" could refer abdication of worldly attachments in earnest or as a 'check-off' item on their list to obtain enlightenment. Or maybe it's just what they focused on during a quick reading of #2 from the "The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas" by Gyelsey Togmey Zangpo, ie, "Give up your homeland".

I agree the protagonist sounds rushed and insincere, likely intentional on Fagan's part, particularly with a lot of the repetitions. Also, if you take a step back, there are a lot of vampy repetitions in the song both lyrically and musically. I suspect that this is a musical joke for Walter and Donald, a metaphor for the continuous cycles that the protagonist is stuck in an "ocean of cyclic existence"--on a grand scale repeating mistakes in reincarnation and on a microscale of repeating meaningless phrases over and over.

My Interpretation

@jwebbjr This is very close to how I've viewed the meaning of this song. I would also add the style being classic, early rock & roll to illustrate the absurdity of a rock star (and by implication all hippies who were first rock & roll fans) thinking he's actually seeking enlightenment. Like... could a rock star have chosen a better religion to help him actually address his real problems? Yet he doesn't have a clue and is applying the same old western/American formula of buying what he needs only digging himself a deeper hole... real dramatic irony. ...

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I feel this song is about Nicheron Shosu budddism.Many years ago people were part of this organization. And if you would give it all to the association you would reach the 52nd stage of enlightenment. it was a sect just like Hare Krishna and the Dan are mocking it.Makesense to me anyway. I,gonna sell my house in town ,and i,ll be there to shine on your <japan to sparkle in your China yes i,ll get there number 52.Some one ask Donald and Walter if i am correct. Like the reverend Sun moon ying how he brianwashed people.i think That Walter and Donald should comment after all of us do our interpretation since i have spent thousands on concerts, Cds and tee shirts. Come on fellas put back a little in the pot to your fans.

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Fagen, an acute observer of people, wrote many songs or verses of songs looking at a situation from a specific perspective, and sometimes multiple perspectives. I think this is one of many songs he wrote about people (or himself) "making it" by Western standards of success, yet still feeling disillusioned and empty -- so they were still searching for answers. In this case, people are looking to a "new" religion (Buddhism is actually quite old but was just taking hold in certain areas of US) and to a different example on how to live ( "Bodhisattva" Which is like a saint, someone that lived as an example not just teaching things academically) and a new (simpler) lifestyle ( "I'm gonna sell my house in town" ). After "winning the game" in the Western world, the author of the song or the character in the song still feels empty, so he is going to look elsewhere, a different culture entirely for fulfillment ( To shine in your Japan To sparkle in your China Yes I'll be there ) Fagen rips on Western/American values in many of his songs.

I'm not sure if the author is making a specific judgment on the character in the song or not. I don't detect the person in the song being ridiculed for falling for the "grass is always greener" illusion. I also don't detect the opposite, the author promoting the idea that we should look to Buddhism, and to Chinese & Japanese culture instead of our own. It seems more like a neutral observation. The author is just saying, "This is what I am seeing". Or perhaps he is commenting on how we look to people that have "made it", either in positions of power, wealth or celebrity for answers and they have no more answers than we do; they too are looking for answers.

My Interpretation
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A commentary on McReligion. 'Nuff said.

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Lol anyone ever go thru a breakup or divorce and notice themselves cleaning excessively? That's what I relate this song to

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