Buddhism is a religion without a god or a creed, yet it's a way of life for four hundred million. It seeks
no converts and strives only to relieve suffering. This blog offers no high teaching but only practical observations, mostly about the daily news. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pope Benedict XVI has commissioned a bespoke eau de cologne. Photograph: AP
He is picky about his robes and his red shoes are tailor-made, but Pope Benedict has taken the meaning of bespoke to a whole new level by ordering a custom-blended eau de cologne just for him.
The fragrance, which mixes hints of lime tree, verbena and grass, was concocted by the Italian boutique perfume maker Silvana Casoli, who has previously created scents for customers including Madonna, Sting and King Juan Carlos of Spain.
Casoli said she had a "pact of secrecy" with her most illustrious client to date, and refused to release the full list of ingredients that had gone into his scent – but she did reveal that she had created a delicate smelling eau de cologne "based on his love of nature".
The Practical Buddhist Responds
I couldn't resist. This 84-year-old pope may be infallible, but he wants to smell nice. He also wants a scent nobody else has, like a lady with a custom designer dress.
Buddhist monks, even the Dalai Lama, are careful not to dress in anything but ordinary robes, or wear jewelry or perfume, because it could be distracting from their lives of reflection and meditation. It's not that different for Catholic monks, actually.
But as you go up in the Catholic hierarchy, the outfits get fancier and fancier, until the pope-stage, where you get to wear very tall hats and scarlet slippers and monster rings.
And exclusive perfumes.
Buddhist monks don't go that route, but aren't likely to pass judgment on it either. They'd probably tell the pope he looks great and smells really nice, and wish him well in his tough job.
I confess frequent frustration with this pope, but learning about this little vanity somehow makes him seem more human, vulnerable, and likeable.