Waaaaaay back in the day, around the 14th century, there was a spiritual leader named Drupka Kunley. He was known as the “Divine Madman,” as his teachings of Buddhism were a little…unorthodox. He found the “middle path” of Buddhism too restrictive, so he decided to DIY his own brand. His hobbies included banishing demons, drinking, and using his giant “Thunderbolt of Wisdom” as a seduction tool. Mmhmm…you read that right.
In fact, he even has his own dzong (temple) in the middle of nowhere in Bhutan, on a breast-shaped hill that a banished demoness lives under. To get there, you have to walk through a tiny little village with a phallus painted on every. single. building. It was a beautiful walk, though. It was nestled right in the center of a sub-tropical valley in Bhutan, and this was before any killer bees or giant beetles so I was loving it. I stepped into the temple (where no photography was allowed, dammit) and looked around. Penises everywhere. Giant wooden phalluses, statues with huge dangly bits, paintings on the walls that seemed more at home on a middle school desk than a spiritual sanctuary (had they not been ornately detailed with acrylics). “This is a special place,” our guide said. Yeah, you can say that again. “People come from all over the world to be blessed here. If they cannot have babies, they come stay here at the temple, be blessed, and a year later they have child.” And in fact, there was an entire scrapbook of smiling families who had gotten hit in the head with a wooden phallus and bam, baby. Magical. Luckily, they were hit over the head with a wooden one. But if you lived in the 14th century, it would have probably been….attached. To a person. To the Divine Madman, to be exact. Now, if willingly being thumped on the head with an appendage connected to someone named the Divine Madman isn’t your thing, I totally get it. But I kind of like this Madman fellow. He realized that Buddhism was being too restrictive about the “middle path” and so he would curse corrupt officials and drink all day and deflower maidens by the truckload with his Thunderbolt, just to call people’s attention to the fact that was more than one way to do this Buddhism thing. People thought he was crazy, hence the “madman” part of his title, but he was like “eff all these rules, I’m a good person on the inside and I don’t need to meditate in caves all day to be a good person” and I mean, he has his own temple so apparently some of his teachings went over well. And to this day, people paint ornate, giant penises , mostly in the act of…ahem, completion, on their house to ward off evil spirits. They also sold penis keychains and postcards (I sent a few….I would have loved to see the postperson’s face) and I kid you not, the restaurant where we had lunch had a no less than three giant wooden phalluses in the bathroom. Which my mom and I giggled at like 10-year-olds. No shame.