Lyrics Depot is your source of lyrics to BODHISATTVA by Steely Dan. Please check back for more Steely Dan lyrics.


Artist: Steely Dan
Album: Countdown To Ecstacy

Would you take me by the hand
Would you take me by the hand
Can you show me
The shine of your Japan
The sparkle of your china
Can you show me
I'm gonna sell my house in town
I'm gonna sell my house in town
And I'll be there
To shine in your Japan
To sparkle in your China
Yes I'll be there


by mark on 6/27/2008 12:44pm
Steely Dan's catchiest and most danceable tune, by far! Listen for elements of The Byrds in the opening strains and various jam bands (Grateful Dead and Phish) in the outro! I can hear 'em.
Anyone else agree?
by Vineet on 7/11/2008 1:08pm
Awesome song. Definitely the the catchiest song Steely Dan ever released.
by MarkT. on 7/12/2008 1:30am
This is a '50s jitterbug! But yes, those bands you mentioned also occasionally pariodied older sounds.
by chris g on 7/23/2008 8:19pm
Hands down the best Steely Dan song
by BEELADD on 8/10/2008 1:06pm
by Ottawa Pete on 8/12/2008 12:43pm
Man, the talent of these geniuses simply transcends time. Catch the version from 'Alive in America' ... brilliance!
by Frank on 11/17/2008 12:51pm
If you want to hear the band they lifted allot of their sound from listen to any old Spirit album. Try Fresh Garbage or Clear.
by Justin on 12/13/2008 12:29am
How fucking terrible is this song?

Shine in your Japan? Please! This song makes no sense. I might as well have strung together random sentences with some catchy blues guitar riff and called myself Steely Justin.


Yeah, that makes sense.
by albers on 12/31/2008 4:00pm
Oh, cool, I had to have these lyrics. I am walking a smoking piano bass line and the middle part going E-b, A, Dm, B-b, is sooo...
by albers on 12/31/2008 4:01pm
Oh, cool, I had to have these lyrics. I am walking a smoking piano bass line and the middle part going E-bM7, A7, Dm7, B-b9, is sooo...
by This one guy on 1/1/2009 6:06pm
That ONE word is soo catchy Bodhisattva, what does it mean?
by jon on 1/5/2009 12:47am
by earthlyinfodotcom on 1/6/2009 2:13pm
Bodhisattva is a human who has reached enlightenment, as the Buddha did, and can leave physical existence behind, but chooses to remain in human form to help others achieve freedom.

He is saying there is a greater appeal to creative thinkers to move in the direction of meditational/spiritual enlightenment of the east instead of power hungry, violent, corrupt, materialistic religions of the west. Instead he is going to sell his house "ego" and move to what makes more sense. Buddhism, Taoism, Hindu philosophy etc. The song makes perfect lyrical sense if you have an IQ larger than your waist size.
by Greg on 1/13/2009 9:06am
Justin, you are an idiot.

Bodhisattva is an enlightened person in Buddhism, which can mean the Buddha himself as well.

"Shine in your Japan" and "Sparkle in your China" mean that the narrator of the song wants to be that way, too, and associates that sort of enlightenment with geography-- China and Japan, particularly at the time of this song's writing, being seen as centres of enlightenment.

Hence also selling his junk.... Buddhists divest themselves of wordly possessions.

This is 5th-grade poetry interpretation, ya schmuck.
by Hoops McCann on 1/16/2009 5:49pm
The guy in the song is an idiot. He think's all he has to do is sell his house and he'll reach enlightenment.

The lyrics seem banal because the character is banal.

It's Steely Dan having a dig at rich airheads and their flip attitudes towards Buddhism.

I love it.

by Snail on 1/19/2009 2:19pm
Hahah! You guys crack me up.

Yes, a bodhisattva is someone seeking enlightenment to be able to benefit all beings. Perhaps the most famous bodhisattva is Avalokiteshvara, called Quan-Yin (in China), or Kannon (in Japan), or Chenrezig (in Tibet).
by katie on 1/29/2009 8:45pm
Thank you Greg. Justin's thoughts are sadly representative of far too many people these days. Does anyone care about knowing anything anymore?
by rock band playa on 2/2/2009 3:16pm
if you have rock band try playing this song on expert it's impossible no one has ever gotten 100% on the solo if you don't have rock band look it up on YouTube

by D Dubya on 2/20/2009 7:50am
Brilliant tune! The lyrics could be about anything. But I'm sure I hear Fagin's cynicism at work here. "The more I learn, the less I know. The more I know, the less I understand.)
by njorm on 2/27/2009 4:56pm
look up the term 'japanning ' ...
it's a lacquer finish ...
ver' shiny ...

and , the sparkle in your china ?...
go figure ...
by sin_tax on 4/13/2009 10:35am
to shine in your Japan...
to sparkle in your China...
I interpreted both of these to mean something sexual. *shrug*
by Rob H on 4/17/2009 8:37am
Bodhisattva is actually referring to the "Bodhissatva" vow of compassion, which is a vow that followers of certain Kinds of Buddhism take, that states that you won't reach enlightenment without everyone else reaching it as well (or loosely, helping others to reach enlightenment) someone who is enlightened is in "nirvana" or "moksha" and i guess technically, becomes nothing
by rain dog on 5/21/2009 10:44am
its rightly joyful because bodhisattva means someone that participates joyfully in a world of sorrow (amor fati).
by Mark on 6/9/2009 5:03pm
I can't stop listening to it. The best guitar leads ever recorded.....hands down!
by sqdel on 7/23/2009 8:22am
Yes, the song is about enlightenment, and ridding yourself of earthly objects; but it is also about drug use, and the state of being high. Come on guys, the Dan was always about was the' 70's !
by Occam's razor on 8/2/2009 11:34pm
Catchy song, but I like "King of the World" and "Razorboy" much better.
by roy on 10/10/2009 7:02pm
which line/word/implication indicates anything about drugs????
a 70's trait - if i dont understand it, it must be about drugs!
by Beathisattva on 10/28/2009 3:38pm
These guys were constantly making fun of west coast hippies.

This is a sarcastic song where the narrator is pretending to be interested in some new age spiritual drivel and phony Asian fetish that some Bodhisattva wannabe is spouting at a party.

"Tell me more oh great wise hippie, I'm going to sell my house in town and go follow you to Japan and China."
by larry gamby on 11/19/2009 5:04pm
this is a great song. the guitar and keyboard duel back and forth is awesome. wish i could have seen it live!
by larry gamby on 11/19/2009 5:07pm
this is a great song. the guitar and keyboard duel back and forth is awesome. wish i could have seen it live! the live version from santa monica with the intro from the wasted guy in the beginning not knowing who the band was he was introducing and hearing either becker or fagen say steely dan was hilarious to my 15 year old son and i listening to it in our car! great stuff!
by frankS on 11/24/2009 10:52am
Larry, too bad you missed it...I just saw the guys last night at Constitution Hall here in DC!! they played the entire Royal scam album without a pause or utterance between tunes. It was flawless. John Harrington, Musical Director, on Guitar, executed everything perfectly. Then Walter becker said after they finished the album that they were winding up the US tour so they felt like playing every f#cking song they know and proceeded to do just that! It was amazing. They played for nearly 3 hours! tremendous!!!

Walter sang: "Daddy don't live in that New york city no more!...."

Really a magnificent contribution to american music and to the world.
by harald on 12/13/2009 7:44am
do your homework Justin
by etienne123 on 1/24/2010 11:07am
indeed rockbandplaya i want to get this song on expert, but i have to settle with completion on hard (nice language justin, by the way!)
by sam on 2/6/2010 4:56pm
Sqdel... not everyone is perfect. And although they might have taken drugs that doesn't mean the song involes drugs. And at least getting the word out about being enlightened will maybe help other people become better. I mean I've done research projects about nirvana and that stuff but I reasearch bodhisattva and learned about it. Some people are really dumb. At least there were only a handful of stupid ppl who posted on this. Btw song is amazing!
by LG on 3/10/2010 1:24am
Justin has no soul
by Gabe on 4/13/2010 7:12pm
The guy introducing them in Santa Monica is Dr. John
by Antwart on 4/27/2010 3:00pm
I just read all the comments above but no got the sexual end of the song. Come on!!! "Can you show me the shine of your Japan, the sparkle of your china?" And then at the end he sings, "and I'll be there, to shine in your Japan, to sparkle in your China, yes I'll be there." Wake up already.
by Walter on 5/5/2010 8:32am
There is a live version of this on the Hard to find album "Steely Dan - Gold" that rocks the house. This is an awesome album to find too, ass every track is musically on the mark. Hard to pick a favorite Steely Dan Track, but "Gold" has all the best.
by Stu on 5/28/2010 1:35pm
Arrrrrggggghhh!!! Love this song but it has been stuck in my head for 2 weeks!!!! It's there when I wake up, there all day, and there when I go to sleep!
by BigyP on 9/5/2010 8:50pm
Rock Band 2 anyone :P
by Kimmy on 3/19/2011 7:41pm
This is the most awesome song ever! I used to make it on the beach and on the sailboat by moonlight with my sweetie listening to the Dan! Grow up little boys......this is love makin' music!!!
by AJ Simkatu on 3/20/2011 11:22am
Beathisattva and Hoops McCann got it right. It's a song making fun of dumb hippies who think they can read a book and be an expert in Buddhism. Here's an excerpt from an interview a view years ago that confirms:

"Walter Becker (Speaker): No. But the song Bodhisattva is about the -- wait a minute --

Donald Fagen (Speaker): I can read this straight from the quick-read song notes from the album book...which you to can some day fact, today...and it reads: "Lure of East. Hubris of hippies. Quick fix. Jokey blues."

Walter Becker (Speaker): Well said. "

by Ollie on 4/1/2011 5:02am
I like how many comments there are here, starting 'This song is about what I think, not what you think'...
by FDB on 4/2/2011 9:41am
Hoops nails it.

Anyone seeking anything but belittlement has no business listening to the Dan.
by Justin on 5/7/2011 7:50pm
This Song SUCKS, I hate this song!!!
by joyce on 5/16/2011 8:20pm
many years ago a shiny , black laquer finish on wood was called "Japaning"- hence "the shine in your Japan" a cute metaphor for enlightenment

Nam myoho renge kyo will do that for you it is said to"Polish your life and you do not have to "sell your house in town"
by Mario on 5/23/2011 8:42pm
Thanks everyone!
I didn't really know what this song meant, (hence why I looked up the lyrics) and after reading them I was still a little confused then I read through the comments and found some useful comments, I knew what Bodhisattva was but was still lost, now I think I agree with the people saying that Steely was mocking Western hippies

Also, Justin, stop trolling, if you have a problem with Steely take it up somewhere else, you're not going to find much agreement on a page with the lyrics of a Steely song you dolt
Rather then spending time trying to mess with people on the internet, how about you read?
Or find out what Bodhisattva is instead of your useless drivel insinuating it was gibberish that Steely made up
Be a productive member of society and get your uneducated ass off your chair and go learn something...or at least talk about how much you hate Steely with someone that actually cares about your opinion regarding the issue?
by Chuck G. on 5/27/2011 2:51pm
Here is the Magnificent one
The one and only one
Mr... Steely... Dan... Whatever!
by Kimi on 7/1/2011 10:50pm
I think y'all might be missing the play on words that makes "the shine of your Japan the sparkle of your china" so fun. jaPAN, CHINA = nice clean dishes to show off.
by tBone on 8/22/2011 3:09am
I liked the song growing up....I still like the song now.....shine the china/nurds selling their houses/well said everybody.....lets hear it again steely...""
by bmonster on 8/27/2011 6:58pm
I love Steely Dan. i don't count this is as their 'best' as some of you do, but it's very catchy. Fagen actually dismissed the song. As for the guys who says they "lifted" a "lot" of their sound from Spirit, I have to disagree. I have most all of Spirits studio and live releases, and bootlegs, and there's plenty of Steely Dan you won't hear in Spirit; and vice versa.
by Jondog on 9/20/2011 4:59pm
I love vintage Steely Dan. countdown to ecstasy is virtually perfect. whose hand is that on the control board anyway? I've always thought the song was mocking somebody, maybe even me. And I love the band for that. if you want to hear the boys playing out of respect check out parker's band.
by quan yin on 1/4/2012 1:22am
To all of you that commented on the above. I am Buddhist, And Bodhisatva means enlightenment and these lyrics are so far removed from the real interpretation of Bodhisatva, its hurting my heart.
by Nellie on 1/5/2012 8:12pm
Probably the only girl in my highschool who knows this song, not to mention can't get enough of it!! "rikki don't loose that number" is still my favorite, but this song is great :)
by tommy j on 3/18/2012 12:35pm
quan yin - please dont take it as a misinterpretation by fagen/becker. it is more of an indictment of those who think they are enlightened by reading a book, taking drugs, or following a religious leader. it is more a cynical look at trend-followers than it is about the truly enlightened.
by Dale on 3/27/2012 7:00pm
I just wanted to read the lyrics and then found myself laughing at the comments. Awesome. I needed that.
Great song. I just bought the Steely Dan collection as a present for an amazing 11 year old drum student. There is so much to be learned from Steely Dan.
by Seaumas on 3/27/2012 11:30pm
Becker and Fagan loved to goof on the Nuveau Riche Hip and this one is the tops along with "Hey Nineteen". Two things make this song so good: (1)the Becker/Baxter solos and the work of Fagan on the Oberheim and piano and (2) the silly and hypermanic lyrics. That four chord resolving bridge is right tasty, ain't it?
by blair on 6/13/2012 10:02pm
This song is hilarious. It was meant to mock all the new age hippies in the latter part of the 20th century converting to the new-hip Asian Buddhist influence on the West Coast.
'The shine of your Japan' (shiny lacquer finish), the 'sparkle of your China' (clean dishes)..awesome play on words for enlightenment but ironically for worldly possessions as well.
by Buddhagroove on 6/21/2012 12:56am
Blair, you may be on to something with the Fagan & Becker tongue in cheek, sardonic tone. My interpretation of Japan and China reference is purely sexual.
by Cjdesmosedici on 11/26/2012 1:47pm
The Idiot who suggested that eastern religions are Superior to Western, really needs a REAL STEELY DAN PLACED LIKE HIS MOMMA'S THERMOMETER........ - You don't have to be a Christian to recognize that JC/Emmanuelle has no EQUAL.....
by Fred Redneck on 1/22/2013 4:49am
You might be confused, Cjdesmosedici. Isn't Emanuelle some porno girl? Oh well, you can worship how you please. And why all the hippie-bashing? They were a bit pretentious, but basically harmless. At least they rarely shot people (unless drafted).
by Buddha Rules on 8/1/2013 3:26pm
Take me by the hand
by Rick on 9/26/2013 11:13am
Saw The Dan at the Wang in Boston last night. Hearing/seeing Bodisattva live was unbelievable! And they kept the tempo; the drummer was exceptional!
by ohknow on 9/29/2013 3:59pm
Impossible to pick a favorite from Steely Dan. The best!
by tiktokman on 10/17/2013 6:36pm
Charlie Freak is one of the saddest songs ever written. Haitian Divorce,the funniest!
by mike 825 on 3/9/2014 11:10am
when the wise man hears of the way, he rejoices and practices it without ceasing. when the average man hears of the way, he is moderately impressed and practices it occasionally. when the fool hears of the way, he finds it hilarious and does not practice it at all.
if it were not such that the fool could laugh, it would not be the way.
by Deano on 8/27/2014 4:26am
His house is a metaphor, its really his heart he is converting when he sells his house, as the man above me here suggests he lost his EGO. When you find this sparkle in yourself and I hope you ALL do, you will be the same as the Buddah,Ghandi or the Christ...its all Gnostic teachings really ...God bless, You are God, its within you, within us all.

by A. Star on 10/9/2014 9:17am
I'm having sushi for breakfast
This is so friv yet deep---
Thanks you guys for all the shiny enlightenment and hippie pathos
JonDog who is Parkers band? I wanna listen (Charlie?)Check out Silver Star in the Book of Liars
by lilwing on 12/3/2014 10:49am
Was listening to Steely Dan on vinyl last night.
Now that I know what the lyrics are about,, well I almost started to tear up a little bit.
Stupid old man.
by Doug on 2/28/2015 6:48pm
Justin, it may be that it does not make a lot of sense and yes you could have put some senseless lyrics to a blues riff and made a ton of money but YOU didn't! Steely Dan did and it was a hit and still is. Senseless or not! BTW - Bodhisattva means enlightened one
by Shawn on 3/15/2015 8:17pm
Good song
by Grumps on 5/16/2015 4:11pm
It means finishing last at The Preakness.
by Chuck on 8/20/2015 2:17am
Greg wrote, "Justin, you are an idiot." I take issue with this. You're not an idiot, Justin. You're Justinidiot, but at least you're not THE Idiot. (That's Dostoevsky.) Thanks, all, for the bestowment of these rich interpretative dances on the pathway of/to/by/for the Ever-Grinning Bodhisattva, Steely Dan, or...not.
by Mike on 10/10/2015 7:16am
I guess I always thought it was about having a crush on an Asian woman. I never heard of anyone getting that excited about Buddhism. The singer is willing to give up all his worldly possessions to go off with her in the hope of sharing her sparkle. But maybe I'm wrong. Look at the lyrics for "Aja," another great Steely Dan song, which also has a spiritual tone. On the other hand, Aja can be a woman's name and ties in well with the Asian woman on the album cover (remember those?). The sense of yearning for something profound (either spirituality or the love of a woman) is wonderful in both of these songs.
by DOCdoc on 1/11/2016 11:13am
We can't know the intention of the lyricist when the lyrics are as full of metaphor as these are. One of the marks of a Steely Dan lyric is that exact interpretation is not the desirable end, at least in terms of regergitating the lyricist's intent. The lyricist provides a scaffold, and framework, but the audience throws up the Sheetrock and paint. Audience is not passive, and must become involved in the process and protocol of the artistic experience unfolding while the song develops.
by halfcack on 10/29/2018 10:48am
Fagen and Becker are, were high brow. They would not pay homage to anything.

As far as a tribute band, try this one. They nail everything. The singer is a refined Fagen. Not necessarily good but not bad either.
by Lornya on 3/7/2019 9:08am
It's funny how many people understand in terms of sales people and sales gimmicks. They regurgitate wisdom as though someone is interested. Steely Dan is a dildo from the William S. Burroughs novel Naked Lunch. How can you take people literally if they're that sardonic? People do. Becker and Fagen hosted some of the finest musicians of their era in this band. Rolling Stone called them "the perfect anti-hero for 70s rock" . . . a "genre" that had gotten sort of FULL of have the fans who followed.

Those who know ain't sayin'.
Those who're sayin' don't know.

Make a new year's revolution.
by Steve on 4/1/2019 11:19am
This is, no doubt, their best song, in my opinion. The lyrics are just as mystical as the song title.
by Boska on 3/24/2020 10:49am
Let me help enlighten those of you who are not musicians or recording engineers...the title is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the multiple guitar voices in the piece; all played by Walter B. The mental image is that of a guitar player playing several guitars at the same time...hence the "Bodi...take me by the hand" referring to the celestial image of a thousand hands.

The piece was composed with the lyrics written after the fact...

The overdubbing is substantial and only someone with at least twelve, if not more hands can play all of the guitars at one time...but all are played by Walter B....
RIP and thank you for the guitar lessons.

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