The symbols of Discordian Buddhism: the Apple, the Wheel of Dhama, the Hand of Eris, the Pentagon
Pee-Wee Herman, Bodhisattva

The Pee-Wee Herman Sutra

In loving memory of Paul Reubens, 1952-2023

This I have heard: Today's secret word is "Chuckle."

Once a monk was studying with a Zen master. Every day, the monk would go to the master and ask, "Please tell me the secret of enlightenment," and every day the master would respond the same way: "Who are you to ask such a thing?" Each day, the monk offered a different answer: "I am just a humble student," "I am one who aspires to become Buddha," "I am nothing more than the gentlest breeze," but nothing seemed to satisfy the master, who always turned the monk away with a grimace. One morning, the monk demanded an answer: "All right, today I have a new question for you. Who am I to ask such a thing?"

"You are a fly," began the master, "Fluttering about a cow's ears. Go away, fly. Find a dung heap to settle upon." And with this, the master waved the monk away.

The monk left the monastery in frustration, and came into a nearby village. There, the monk ran across a unique individual. Seemingly a child, but as large as a man, wearing a fitted grey suit which was clearly too tight, and red bow tie. His hair was trimmed short, and he walked in a most peculiar, frantic way, stopping as he went to pet the flowers as if they were kittens, speaking to each one in a cartoonish voice, as if he expected the blossom to speak back. Sometimes, he reacted as if they did, and often he voiced their responses for them.

"And how are you today Mr. Dandy-Lion?" he asked, and then, using the bloom as a puppet, made a vicious-sounding "RAAR!" -- as vicious as a child's mockery of a lion's roar may be, at least. "Oh my, you sound hungry! You should have some buttercups!" the strange person practically yelled at the flower, before wandering onward with a chuckle.


Startled by the inexplicable scream which seemed to come from everywhere, the monk cowered behind a rhododendron bush, watching as the strange person sauntered past playfully, almost dancing down the sidewalk. Quietly, the monk decided to follow the man.

Before long, the pair encountered a strikingly beautiful woman with an auburn bouffant hairstyle in a ballgown, who greeted him with a friendly wave while striding down the opposite side of the street with a gait that seemed lighter than air. "Bonjour Pee-Wee!" she exclaimed in an angelic voice. So, the monk thought, the stranger's name seems to be Pee-Wee.

"Blo-blue Miss Yvonne!" Pee-Wee replied, in mangled French. Miss Yvonne, for all her apparent airs, did not seem to notice, or mind. She merely gazed after him, happily, as he skipped onward. She seemed to be dreaming of the wonder of youth, inspired by his carefree nature.

From farther down the street, a cowboy sitting atop a horse called out, "Howdy, Pee-Wee," tipping his hat. He had dark skin, curly hair, and wore a pink western-style shirt. At his belt hung a lasso, and on his feet were big cowboy boots. He smiled happily at Pee-Wee.

"Howdy, Cowboy Curtis!" Pee-Wee replied, miming tipping an invisible hat in reply.

"Now don't forget we're going camping tomorrow! Make sure to save room for plenty of toasted marshmallows!" the cowboy said.

"Mmm, yummy!" said Pee-Wee. "My tummy feels toasty already! Ha-ha!"

The cowboy laughed and rode on down the street, turning back to watch the silly, innocent Pee-Wee hop and click his heels. Noticing the monk, Cowboy Curtis tipped his hat again and spoke: "That's the most unique boy you'll ever meet, stranger. You sit by the campfire with that one, and he'll change your life. I guarantee it." With a wink, the cowboy trotted away.

No sooner had the Cowboy passed than the local mailman emerged from the gate of a nearby picket fence. "Hey Pee-Wee, I've got a letter for you!" he said, fishing a blue envelope from his bag.

"From my pen pal?" asked Pee-Wee, accepting the envelope.

"Think so," replied the mailman with a grin and wink. "Folks all over the globe sure do like writing you letters! Guess you must be pretty special."

"Gee, I guess so! Thanks, Mailman Mike!" Pee-Wee said, skipping onward with another chuckle.


Mailman Mike looked up, evidently also hearing the scream. "Must be that word of the day again," he said, shaking his head with bemusement before continuing his route.

The monk was bewildered. Here is a man with the mind of a child, who speaks to the flowers, and hears them speak back. He holds the admiration of everyone in the village, even the most beautiful woman in the land, yet he is unmoved by their admiration. From across the globe, people write to him, wishing to be a small part of his circle of awareness. Surely this Pee-Wee is enlightened, he thought, and called out.

"Excuse me, Pee-Wee," the monk began, approaching with a bow. Pee-Wee stopped to listen, and greeted the monk with an exaggerated bow of his own. "Wowee, I've never seen a real monk before. Are you robes real? Can I touch them? How long have you been a monk? If I do this, are you allowed to laugh?" Pee-Wee arranged his hands around his face, his fingers tucked into his lips, pulling them into a mockery of a smile as his fingers pulled his eyes wider and his thumb held his nose up like a pig's snout.

"LALALALALALA" Pee-Wee shouted, holding his face in this position.

"Please, I must know," said the monk. "I have been at the monastery, and every day I ask the master there to tell me the secret of enlightenment, and every day, he rebukes me. Why, just this morning he called me an annoying little fly, and bade me go away."

"Wow, touch-ee," Pee-Wee said, letting his face return to normal.

"Yes, I'm at my wits end. But I see you, and I can see that you have achieved the highest wisdom," the monk continued, and Pee-Wee pursed his lips and hummed, listening. "Please, I beg of you, share your wisdom with me."

Pee-Wee thought for a long moment, closing his eyes and saying "Hmm... share my wisdom. Let me see, let... me... see..." he began counting silently on his fingers, mumbling to himself. Finally, with a shout, he opened his eyes and beckoned the monk to come closer. Leaning forward, he whispered into the monk's ear. The monk listened intently, and when he was finished, the monk tilted his head in thought.

"Really?" said the monk.

"Really," said Pee-Wee, in a serious, deadpan whisper.

"Thank you," said the monk, and Pee-Wee, with a raucous laugh, announced "Don't take any wooden nickels! HA-HA," and continued down the street.

Straightaway the monk returned to the monastery. The other monks looked on with apprehension as he walked merrily through the gates, into the temple, through the great hall, and stood once again at the master's feet.

"So the fly has returned to annoy me again. Tell me, little fly, why do you continue to be such a nuisance to me?"

Placing his palms together, the monk lowered his gaze and spoke, clearly and calmly: "I know you are. But what am I?"

Pleased with his student, the master let out a chuckle.