Best Zen Documentaries

Christina Perez
• Monday, 09 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Buddhism is a religion that tons of people have a cursory knowledge of, but want to expand their awareness of. Starting about 500 years BCE, Buddhism has traveled from India into the countries it borders, China, Japan, Tibet, Thailand, Korea, and really everywhere else, although to varying degrees of success.

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The film tells the story of the early life of the Buddha, his journey to enlightenment, and his teaching of traveling months and his establishment of the Buddhist community referred to in the tradition as the Sang ha. Tons of thinkers, teachers, and students join the program to explain to us how the life of The Buddha is still relevant to us today.

Seeing as both Hinduism, Buddhism, and most parts of eastern culture assume reincarnation to be the natural state of things, it makes sense that here, we'd have a documentary on someone who seeks out a teacher from their past. Mistaken Child is an independent film released in 2008, which chronicles the journey of Tenpin Zola, a Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Mistaken Child has won a small list of awards and is important for multiple reasons. While Freeland was worried that his life of photography previous to his rebirth as a monk might be an unnecessary attachment, it becomes very important when it's the only way to raise funding to build a new monastery.

The director, Gear Munro was identified by another monk as one of his father's previous teachers and was enthroned as a Talk at the age of three. The film mostly documents the potential issues with the Talk system and the internal struggle that consumes the westerners who are enthroned as such.

Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, Samsara takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation.” The film The Dharma Brothers came out in 2007, and it details the prison meditation program at Donaldson Correctional Facility.

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The movie focuses on four men who had been convicted of murder and includes interviews with them about the changes they've noticed in their psyche after engaging in consistent Vipassana meditation. The Chaplain of the services in the jail complained about the meditation program since he was losing his congregation and some locals in Alabama compared Buddhism to witchcraft.

The Tibetan Book Of The Dead: A Way Of Life is a film that was created by Leonard Cohen, The Dalai Lama, and Ram Days. The book tells of the journey that the soul of every sentient being goes through between life and death and rebirth.

When he's not writing, he enjoys improve comedy, making music with friends, and consuming whatever media he can. Before working for Valet mainly on the Screen Rant site, he got his writing experience in doing music reviews and comic book scripts.

The emergence of Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in China in the 7th century CE. As a matter of tradition, the establishment of Zen is credited to the South Indian prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma, who came to China to teach a special transmission outside scriptures, not founded on words or letters.

In our ‘The Weekly 5’ series we aim to present you with 5 ideas, products, or publications that you can utilize to enhance the quality of your life. The sophistication of modern day filmmaking offers us the opportunity to see and experience the world in unimaginable ways.

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Many documentaries move us in ways that a typically Hollywood film cannot, and they also increase our understanding in a variety of topics. It is believed that the norther Indian city of Kansas is the last original Tibetan Buddhist society that has, because of it’s isolated location, remained unaffected by outer influence.

In the tradition of Buddhism, this means that when highly ranked monks and lamas pass, a search begins to find the reincarnation of the spiritually significant individuals. In Mistaken Child, ” which was released in 2008, filmmakers follow the journey of Tibetan monk Tenpin Zola as he searches for the reincarnation of his revered teacher, Ge she Lama Poncho.

The extraordinary journey, that is Daughters of Dogma, focuses on a variety of interesting topics and brings to light the gender equality issues found within modern day religion. In this 2007 documentary, a team of prominent psychologists begins offering an intensive Buddhist meditation courses in one of America’s most dangerous prisons.

Within the borders of Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Laos is an area of land, called The Golden Triangle, which is distinctively known for drug-producing opium operations. For the children who grow up in this poverty ridden region, the temptations of wealth, that can be had from the drug trade, are often hard to overcome.

The man whose story is explored is, former Thai boxer turned Buddhist monk, PRA Thru Bah NEA Chai Position. He is also a member of reputable professional organizations such as the American Mindfulness Research Association and the Academy of Spiritual and Consciousness Studies.

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We asked ten actors, filmmakers, and writers to each tell us their favorite movie that has a Buddhist message. It brings together a few things I love: beautiful visuals and music, great acting and writing, a moving yarn, and a science fiction/thriller edge.

Krista Tippet is the creator of the public radio show and podcast On Being, a National Humanities medalist, and the author of the forthcoming book Becoming Wise. After all, the second part of its title, “The Wind Blows Where It Wishes,” comes from the Gospel According to John and the soundtrack features Mozart’s ‘Mass in C Minor.” Its narrative, the ostensibly predictable story of a prison break, promises more dramatic tension than it does illumination.

By Jeff Bridges Now, it could be argued that there’s no Buddhist theme in The Big Lebowski whatsoever. Koans are Zen stories that only make sense if you can see that life and reality are different from your opinions about them.

Now, my buddy Bernie is a Zen master himself, and he convinced me that The Big Lebowski has a Buddhist theme. Although many people think he is The Dude, Jeff Bridges is actually a multitalented actor, singer, photographer, and activist.

By Niamey Morey I’ve actually fallen in love with a movie that I think has one of the best representations of fundamental Buddhist principles: Kung Fu Panda. It really starts a dialogue about Buddhist principles with young people and their parents who see themselves in each other and learn from each other.

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He finally wins the dragon scroll that is supposed to reveal all the secrets of martial arts and life, only to discover that it’s blank. By Peter Coyote There is a wonderful American film called Opening Night, by the great director John Cassettes, that on the surface makes no reference to anything remotely Buddhist.

It is the story of a grand and courageous woman played by Cassettes’ wife, Gena Roland, an actress of great reputation and talent, currently felled by alcoholism of a savagery that has reduced her on occasion to crawling onstage on her hands and knees. She is working with a younger actor (Cassettes), a temperamental and equally talented star who is infuriated by her unprofessional ism, the problems she causes, and the difficulties she makes for him during production.

It is one of the greatest examples of compassion that I have ever seen on film, and expresses perfectly the central core of Buddhism, echoing His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s famous remark, “My religion is kindness.” Peter Coyote is an actor, award-winning writer, and ordained priest in the lineage of Henry Suzuki Joshi.

By bell hooks Meeting many years ago with Gary Snyder, coupled with my passionate interest in the Beat poets, led me to Zen Buddhism. My interest in Snyder’s poetry and his critical thinking on culture and politics coincided with a desire to learn more about Zen Buddhism.

Eager to “study” Zen, I began by reading the works of Diesel Tatar Suzuki. Suzuki, I immediately placed my order for the film, eagerly awaiting this opportunity to actually “see” images of this teacher whose lifelong passion was to bring awareness and understanding of Zen to the West.

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I was fascinated by a black-and-white image of a white woman standing in front of a house with a large sign declaring “JAPS KEEP MOVING: THIS IS A WHITE MAN’S NEIGHBORHOOD.” Given the current public celebration of Buddhist Asian teachers (Which That Hand, the Dalai Lama, and so many more) it is easy to forget the fierce anti-Asian, anti-Japanese climate that was for so long a crucial aspect of U.S. ethnic politics and racial relationships. That tender heart is revealed in his thoughtful consideration of the eighteen-year-old girl Bioko Nakamura who comes to him seeking spiritual sanctuary, a way to see life as meaningful.

While there are messages in The Matrix that echo all schools of Buddhism, the one that resonates with me the most is the theme of the guru and the student The teacher is the one who advises, teaches, disciplines, and encourages us to go beyond our comfort zone in order to gain deeper levels of understanding.

He goes through all the human attachments in each new repeated day, each new incarnation: power, lust, greed for experience, and so forth. Finally, by living a “perfect day of impeccable service,” he is able to break the endless cycle of reincarnation and move on.

On a recent filming trip to India, I asked the Dalai Lama about a particular practice he’s been doing for decades. “Your Holiness,” I asked, “twenty-five years ago you told me about a daily practice you do called ‘Take and Give.’ You explained that every day, in your imagination, you take on Chinese anger, hatred, and bitterness and in return give them love and compassion.

And I didn’t get the woman.” So opens Billy Wilder’s noir classic, Double Indemnity, based on the brutal novel by James M. Cain. From that point, the movie flashes back and tells the lurid story that culminates in this foretold conclusion, a structure that subtly suggests that beginnings live side-by-side with endings.

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Fred Murray, in a role that will make you forget he played the dad in the sitcom My Three Sons, is a seemingly mild-mannered insurance salesman who is lured into a web of intrigue by the conniving Barbara Steinbeck. Murray’s boss, played by the great Edward G. Robinson, is onto them, and as the noose tightens the lovers turn on each other like scorpions.

The fundamental delusion the characters suffer from is that money and the promise of sex will make them happy. When the account of their descent has unspoiled, we are back to where we were at the beginning and the characters are revealed in their meretricious striving and crippling illusions to be prisoners on the wheel of samsara.

Seth Greenland is a playwright, screenwriter, and the author of four novels, including The Angry Buddhist. The other film is Brilliant Moon, which is about the life of Diego Hyenas Roche, one of the most renowned Tibetan Buddhist masters of the twentieth century.

This film has great footage of Hyenas Roche teaching in his unique and inimitable style. I watch this often film and never tire of hearing this precious and inconceivable lama teach us the dharma.

Read Andrea Miller’s Lion’s Roar magazine profile of him, Wise Guy.” Our sincere wish is that these Buddhist teachings, guided practices, and stories can be a balm in these difficult times.

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1 www.timeout.com - https://www.timeout.com/new-york-kids/news/the-bronx-zoo-will-bring-back-free-wednesdays-072220
2 freetoursbyfoot.com - https://freetoursbyfoot.com/discounts-for-the-bronx-zoo/
3 bronxzoo.com - https://bronxzoo.com/plan-your-visit/faqs