Feb 16 Update

Thank you all for your continued support for Buddhist Sound Healing. Our message of understanding remains a wellspring of insight for myself and others, as the story is shared far and wide.

Healing is not done overnight, nor through force of will. Healing requires looking inside ourselves. Do we have attachment, or desire? We do. Does life hold in it an innate sense of dissatisfaction? It does. Can we free ourselves from attachment? We can. Did I get a great deal on a 15 inch, 1,500 Watt subwoofer? I did.

We have plateaued. I have not heard noise from downstairs for a long time, no doubt in a large part because I spend more time at the office during the day than at home since moving my computer there. Nevertheless, I'm happier than I've been in a long time. Buddhist Sound Healing will continue, in its current phase, at a limited capacity for the foreseeable future.

Nov 26 Update

Had a great chat with my neighbor about the virtues of Buddhism. Will include a write-up on this soon. In the meantime, be on the lookout for a brand new commercial included hourly on the livestream for Benny's Brown Bag sandwich shop in Peekskill, New York!


In April 2023, a hot dog business moved beneath the apartment I rent. Immediately they set to playing loud music I could hear through the floor and spreading throughout my apartment. When asked if they could respect the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment, we were met with the sort of obstinance you see in an unruly child. This nuisance has continued unabated for eight months.

My mental health has... deteriorated.‍

its a pictures of me
Pictured: Me.

The first time my wife and I went down to ask the new business about the noise, the co-owner we spoke to, "Annie," told us point blank: "We're not gonna do that." Ignoring the disrespect for the moment, I told Annie that if they would only turn down the bass frequencies, the volume itself would not have to come down as much. Annie said, "Oh, I'm old; I don't know how to do that." Then, seconds later, they said, "Music is nothing without bass." I glanced at the far wall of their hot dog business and noticed that painted on the wall was an eight-foot-tall mural of a boombox. I felt a headache come on, and I left.

At first, our landlord acted in good faith and asked the hot dog business directly to turn it down. He understood how serious this was, he told me. Over the past eight months, my landlord has personally and directly endured the nuisance when I asked him to stop by and see for himself. He always left agreeing with me that it was an issue. And, in the spirit of good faith, he shared the text of their business lease agreement with me.

Section Nine, Restrictions on Use
Section Nine: Restrictions on Use (for the hot dog business)
"Oh, so you're gonna be a Nazi about the music, huh?"
- "Sara," owner and proprietor of a hot dog business

The noise was more than a nuisance. It was torture. I could not think straight. My every thought devolved into ideas or plans for how I would fix this problem and abate this nuisance. My mind would grind to a halt, interrupting any other important thing I had to do for the moment. I simply could not ignore it.

I spoke to a lawyer. He said, and I paraphrase, "You could sue them, but I wouldn't recommend it. It will cost you a lot of money, cost months of your time, and then, at the end of the day, you will get a little piece of paper from a judge. The paper is a legal injunction saying the police can show up if it's a problem. But would you really want to wait if it's that bad? If it were me, I'd just turn a speaker on them."

Virtually every day, from noon until 10 pm, my apartment is no longer a home to me. It is a husk where good memories once flourished, but no longer. I used to find joy in tending to the apartment, but now I pathologically avoid it. The moment I step through the door during the day, I become angry with the reminder that despite the law protecting my right to quiet enjoyment, I don't have it. I wish I weren't like this, but I am. My adrenaline surges.

Compounding my frustration, my wife was equally bothered by this situation. She tried politely asking the hot dog business owners to reduce the noise to acceptable levels but faced only more frustration. I had come to believe that reasoning with them was futile. Once again, I turned to any lawful avenue I could find for relief, searching for legal justifications that might protect me.

§ 197-4 Standards for determination. No person shall make, continue or cause or permit to be made, verbally or mechanically, any unnecessary noise. An "unnecessary noise" shall mean any excessive or unusually loud sound or any sound which either annoys, disturbs, injures or endangers the comfort, repose, health, peace or safety of a person or which causes injury to animal life or damage to property or business.

Any reasonable person could see how straightforward this is, I thought. However, the police don't typically enforce civil matters without a court injunction. Could I wait for that?

I, again (and many, many times since) urged my landlord to request that the neighbors comply with a lease agreement to which these people ostensibly agreed: that "no loudspeakers or other similar devise, system, or apparatus which can be heard outside the premises shall, without the prior written approval of landlord, be used in or at the premises."

For a while, I expected my landlord to address this. I found an office to work from, while my wife stayed at home. I didn't hear any complaints from her for weeks, and I believed the issue had been resolved.

I'm an optimist.

Weeks later, when my wife finally revealed that the noise hadn't abated, I would characterize my actions following this discovery to be what scientists describe as, "losing my cool."

It was 10pm. I marched outside and registered my complaint with a slam on the wall and a spit in the parking lot. I was never going to fight anyone, but I needed to express myself. The co-owners of the business, who rent the apartment next door, turned on their floodlights and stood on their porch. Our exchange went like this:

What do you want?
Good, because you don't know who you're messing with.
You know you're torturing my wife with this music? Do you fucking realize this?
You're torturing her.

SHUT THE FUCK UP! Listen to me: you are torturing my wife!
(like an echo)
You're torturing he—

SHUT THE FUCK UP! You know I really thought I would try and appeal to your compassion, but that's clearly isn't gonna fucking work. And what's really crazy to me is that you have a 3 foot statute of the fucking BUDDHA on your front porch. Clearly you don't give a fuck about tranquility! So what, is it a counterfeit? You people are insane!

That was, as you might imagine, my last meaningful conversation with the hot dog people. My wife went to France in June to study at a business school, leaving me behind to maintain my freelance business as a video and VFX editor. Business was good, and I couldn't afford to join her in France for eight months. With all this free time, I created a website and set up a livestream to remotely monitor my apartment, record the noise, and use it as evidence in a civil court. Regrettably, this was my only recourse. I would passively receive more cruelty until my day in court.

But... I couldn't shake the feeling something was wrong from my encounter with the hot dog owners. More than how callously indifferent they were.

It was the Buddha.

A 3 foot tall statue of the Buddha on the front porch belonging to my asshole neighbors
The Buddha.

The Buddha. Incredible. I was struck by a thought: if self-proclaimed Buddhists could be so inconsiderate, so maladjusted, then what was the point of their faith? To demonstrate such an utter indifference to my suffering, what did they profit from the tenets of Buddhism? I mean look at the size of this thing. It must be over three feet tall. I checked Amazon and found their smallest Buddha, measuring a mere 3x3x5 inches, costs $10. It would have had to be an enormous investment to present yourself as Buddhist to the world. Even if the thing fell off a truck, you wouldn't put a Star of David on your front door if you weren't Jewish, nor would you put Christ on a Cross on your doorstep if you didn't expect your guests to believe you were Christians.

This concept of a fraudulent religious pretext occupied my mind more and more as the days wore on. Days turning in weeks. Weeks into months. Did they meditate? Were they observers of Buddhist holidays? Did they practice the middle way, eschewing ascetism and sensual indulgence?

No, I surmise these hot dog business owners rely so profoundly on their indulgence of loud music that they would persist in spite of their written lease agreement, town code, my pleas, my wife's pleas, my rights as a renter in New York State, and even my landlord's verbal direction to curb the nuisance. No, these owners could not possibly be followers of the Buddha.

My working theory is they think it's just a cool statue. A cool decoration. Perhaps they received it as a gift and considered it too nice to discard. But, again, imagine if this were a three-foot statue of Christ. As a non-Christian, the thought of being a gifted religious display would elicit a, "No, thank you," from me. That's just me.

"Tenant shall not do or permit anything to be done in or about the premises which will in any way obstruct or interfere with the rights of other tenants or occupants in the building or injure or annoy them, or use or allow the premises to be used for any immoral, unlawful, or objectionable purposes."
— Section Nine, Restrictions on Use

I continue to revisit their lease agreement. I find it sublime. Every new word to the next read like a personal love letter to me. It was all there, down to the arguable immorality of their counterfeit Buddha statue. But my landlord, a man more a builder than anything, refuses to evict. He's hesitant to lose revenue both from their apartment and storefront. Unfortunately, I couldn't legally compel my landlord to enforce his agreements either. I could potentially sue my landlord for rent abatement (which has precedent in New York State) but I honestly feel bad for the guy. He works for a living and doesn't deserve the hassle, even though he is legally responsible for my quiet enjoyment. Reducing my rent wouldn't solve the noise problem either. The difference between my reduced rent and the combined rent from my annoying hot dog neighbors combined wouldn't be enough for my landlord to justify eviction. I've crunched the numbers. And, for what it's worth, I don't actually want them evicted either. Eviction brings with it an assortment of grief and inconvenience I would not actively wish on anyone. Even my asshole hot dog neighbors.

So here I am, nearly eight months into sheer misery, with nothing to show for it. My mental health would have swan dived off a cliff a long time ago were it not for the ongoing support and understanding I receive from friends and family. On YouTube, tales of people battling their own noisy neighbors are plentiful; comments sections with unreserved adoration and glee to see the bastard neighbors get theirs. An eye for an eye.

Am I above such a thing?

Forgive me the opportunity to elaborate on this feeling. Throughout this ordeal I've learned some things, like setting up a sophisticated live stream and building a website that streams an RTSP feed of my home security camera. A little graphic design here and there. These are things I already knew about. Then there is the abstract: no law is real unless it can be enforced. As the saying goes, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

Another lesson I've learned is I should avoid attributing to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. Miscommunication often arises when we expect too much from others, and overlook the how ignorance shapes our shared perception of reality. To truly connect, we must attune our frequencies, so to speak. In this light, I've tried to dispel my neighbors' ignorance and convey the cruelty they've inflicted. I don't believe they can continue to feign ignorance after all of this, but I also don't think they fully grasp the extent of their noise. Perhaps you can see where this is leading.

That's right: I've become a Buddhist myself.

Perhaps you didn't see that coming. But it's true. To prove it, I bought myself my own Buddha.

A 3-inch Buddha adorning the steps leading up to my apartment
Lil Bud.

There he is. I bought in. I'm now a Buddhist!

Being a Buddhist is wonderful. I've been one for about two months now, and it comes with almost no responsibilities or obligations. Well, I think that's what Buddhism is about, at least. I do have the statue now, and I'm pretty sure that entitles me to the same religious benefits as my neighbors. I can feel it.

I doubt I'll read any important Buddhist texts. The statue is enough for me. The reality is I'm desperate for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. This might just work!!

Unfortunately, despite the newfound assurance and warm feelings I get from passing by my new "Lil Buddy," I still have very real and intractable environmental conditions preventing me from meditating and achieving the promise of tranquility Buddhism offers. I checked some forums online and discovered that there are indeed buildings in remote locations where people can meditate quietly for extended periods, although these places tend to be expensive.

So, what's next? My gut tells me to start a small business. So here it is: Buddhist Sound Healing. I haven't figured out how to monetize it, but I don't think it would be very Buddhist to do that. Or would it? I don't know. Is that Buddhist? I really have no idea.

Regardless, I am committed to being the best Buddhist Buddhism has to offer... me. In a sense, it's all really self-evident, if you think about it.

Current livestream record: 584hr 40min

A Golden Buddha on a Magic Carpet