In the Mahayana school of Buddhism, Bodhisattvas are beings who have reached enlightenment and remain on earth in order to lead other, lesser beings towards achieving the same sublime. Jaden Smith started out just like the rest of us—sweet and innocent, with a childlike sense of wonder and a humble daddy ‘n’ me blockbuster break. But somewhere along the line Smith's façade began to slip. Like Angelina Jolie's incorrigible right leg, the absolutely bonkers brilliance of Smith's brain waves refused to be covered, suppressed, or tamed. While the famously chill Buddha was content to just sit under some trees, Smith's out-there enlightenment is quite literally out there—from T Magazine to GQ, from Twitter to Instagram, Smith is the most well-publicized messiah this side of Beyoncé.
By spouting a combination of swaggy lifestyle advice and spiritual maxims (think Yeezus meets Jesus), Smith has graciously gifted us all with his very own enlightenment starter pack. In embracing the Tao of Jaden Smith, we mere mortals can achieve a higher level of consciousness, all while enjoying a lower-level summer breeze thanks to the open, breathable nether regions of our Smith-issued, gender-neutral tunics.
Tweet Like You Are The Love Child of Buddha, Dementia And Horse_ebooks And You Just Hotboxed Your Car
Jaden Smith’s Twitter presence is a pop culture present, like Channing Tatum's Sony hack email or Jesse Williams’ perfectly calibrated combination of eyes and abs. Smith tweets about death, life, love, and his unflappable belief that it is always 3 (it isn't). In his March 23rd, 2013 declaration "Most Trees Are Blue," Smith used surreal imagery to question the illusory truth of sensory knowledge. Two short months later, Smith unveiled the paradox, "How Can Mirrors Be Real If Our Eyes Aren't Real"—a window into Smith's efforts to delineate between the self and the other within an ever-evolving reality. And who can forget, "You Can Discover Everything You Need To Know About Everything By Looking At Your Hands": the age-old story of a teenage boy who just got so unbelievably high that he literally cannot stop staring at his hands. If gaining all your spiritual wisdom in 140-character bursts courtesy of Jaden Smith's Twitter is wrong, then Please Help Me Because I Can't Stop Typing Like This.
Give Interviews to Fancy Magazines And Scare Old People
Back in 2014, Jaden teamed up with sister Willow to give the prestigious T Magazine a heart attack masquerading as a joint interview. The sit-down was pegged to the release of Jaden's Cool Tape Vol. 2, but was actually untethered from any theme or mutually acknowledged reality. The transcript reads like a college interview from hell, with elder sage Smith holding court on "the melancholiness of the ocean; the melancholiness of everything else" and offering a myriad of awe-inspiring sentences and linguistic flips, before sticking the proverbial landing with the now iconic statement, "When you think about an apple, you also think about the opposite of an apple." Ta-Da!
Dress Like No One/Everyone is Watching
In the T Magazine interview, Jaden insisted that, "I like to wear things that I make, but I throw it on as though I was throwing on anything. It looks cool, sometimes." For most of us, a laid-back sartorial approach is a sweatshirt, ratty sneakers, and leggings that can easily transition from day to night to day again. For Smith, not trying at all seems to look the same as trying really hard. For example, Smith's impulsive dress-wearing birthed a gender-neutral fashion moment, culminating in a prom look so fleeky that Men's Wearhouse is going to have to start renting out tunics along with tuxedos.
At his second prom of the season, Smith rocked a full superhero suit that he refers to as "albino batman." The high-voltage take on white tie and tails made its first debut at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's wedding. Smith, who was chosen as one of GQ’s most stylish men of 2015, told the magazine, "I wore the Batman suit to heighten my experience at the wedding and prom which was fun, but also at the wedding I felt as though I needed to protect everyone there and needed to have the proper gear to do so." While Smith's assumption that high school proms don't need extra protection seems a little off, he rightfully felt the need to up the Kimye security. If the President and the Vice President can't travel together, there's simply no excuse for leaving Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and John Legend susceptible to simultaneous attack, not to mention up-and-coming luminaries like Jaden Smith, Kylie Jenner, and Kendall Jenner. These children are our cultural future!
Appropriately, Smith claims his style icons are Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Superman, and Kanye West.
Do Cool Shit
At 8 years old, Smith co-starred in The Pursuit of Happyness alongside superstar dad Will Smith. Since then, he's done a lot of cool shit. He's released one album and two mix tapes, rapped alongside naughty cherub Justin Bieber on the hit single "Never Say Never," and started his own clothing line MSFTSrep. Earlier this month, news got out that Smith was set to star in Baz Luhrmann's much-hyped 2016 hip-hop Netflix series The Get Down.
Smith miraculously balances his demanding work schedule with his possibly fake relationships; alleged former girlfriends include Stella Hudgens and Kylie Jenner. Smith even found time to ask his dad for legal emancipation, and then confuse fans even further by denying the request in a daddy-son Ellen interview. Seriously, the only 16-year-old with as rich of a life story as Jaden Smith is Benjamin Button.
Embrace the Liminal Space Between Sad Boys And Bodhisattvas
In spite of his celeb spawn status, myriad accomplishments, and millions of followers, Smith's appeal ultimately lies in his honesty and relatability. While we didn't all get to go to prom with Amandla Stenberg—actually none of us did—Smith's potent, smells like teen spirit blend of confidence, melancholy, and pure navel-gazing is as comfortingly familiar as a Will Smith movie. Everyone has experienced the teenage enlightenment that motivates Smith's music and his social media—a moment when you felt as cool and powerful as white Batman.
Smith lives that young adult truth every day, on the front lines of a war against all things grown-up, boring, and uninspired. He might not be the voice of our generation, but he's the voice inside of all of our heads that would really like to wear a breezy summer tunic and spout a bunch of bullshit to a New York Times subsidiary. In classic adolescent hero fashion, Smith is both an inspiration and an idiot—moody, wise, enlightened, and oblivious. The Tao of Jaden Smith teaches us to embrace both our inner child and our inner metaphysicians. And yes, blurring Taoism and Buddhism is confusing and problematic—but our patron saint Jaden Smith wouldn't have done it any other way.