This Simpsons episode is a great example of a bad summary of Buddhism:
A few things to point out:
- The “buddha” statue there is not the Buddha, nor do Buddhists worship the fat Buddha.
- The Dalai Lama is the 14th incarnation of the Bodhisattva (not Buddha) Avalokiteshvara, or so Tibetan tradition teaches.
- The term “suffering is caused by desire” is a misnomer. More details here.
- Carl is such a nice guy. He would never go psycho on anybody. Lenny on the other hand…
On the other hand, the writers did nail the “all things are empty of an inherent existence” part.
Family Guy made similar blunders:
- The fat Buddha. (sigh)
- Buddhism teaches “rebirth” not “reincarnation” and yes, while it is possible to be reborn as an animal, there’s a lot more background to that.
- The “don’t believe in demonstrating emotions” comment is weird and makes no sense. Buddhism doesn’t teach people to be Vulcans. Well, maybe a little.