*THIS IS A GUEST POST. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.
Whether you are familiar with Buddhism or are looking for ways to learn more, movies offer a good entry point from which to begin exploring key concepts and philosophy. Here are 6 films which successfully embody and promote Buddhist philosophy.
- Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring (2003) Kim Ki Duk
In this film, the life of a young Buddhist monk and his master are followed, as he grows from a young adult through to old age. Each season is used to represent the different stages of his life and the important lessons which he learns along the way. The structure of this film, as well as the narrative, exemplify some key Buddhist ideals and core messages.
- Zen – The Life Of Zen Master Dogen (2009) Tanmei Takahashi
In this biopic of the Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher and writer, Dogen Zenji, many of the core principles for right living and Enlightenment are discussed. The film details how Dogen travelled to China looking for a more authentic version of Buddhism. When he returned to Japan, he established the Soto school of Zen and left behind many beautiful and important texts.
This film not only embraces the Zen Buddhist philosophy with its meditative mood, but it also has some truly beautiful visuals and a clever and captivating narrative structure. In particular, it’s filled with important and valuable concepts from Zen Buddhism.
- Milarepa (2007) Neten Chokling
The life of one of the legendary Tibetan Saints and Buddhist mystic, Milarepa, is explored in this captivating film. The film explores not only his life, but also the teachings of Milarepa, which enabled him to achieve enlightenment during his life. The film successfully merges history and biography with myth and adventure, to create a cinematic experience that is both informative and engaging.
- Kundun (1997) Martin Scorsese
For those who wish to learn more about the fascinating life of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, Kundun is a film not to be missed. The title, Kundun, refers to one of the names used to address the Dalai Lama and it means “presence”. As an important figure within the 20th century, whose appeal and charisma have long captivated many across the world, this biopic offers an insightful and respectful account of his extraordinary life. As well as beautiful imagery, the film’s soundtrack is also wonderfully meditative and the film succeeds in offering viewers an opportunity to experience it as a form of meditation and contemplation.
- Samsara (2001) Pan Nalin
In Samsara the challenges confronted by a Buddhist monk who decides to lead a more “normal” life, as opposed to continuing upon his path to Nirvana, are explored. The film explores the difficulties faced by the monk as he leaves years of strict rules and seclusion behind him.
At times difficult and painful, his journey is also a tale of love and beauty. Above all, the narrative emphasizes a core principle that the lessons of Buddha are not limited to any one point or place within our lives, but rather are available to all of us to experience throughout our daily lives.
- The Fountain (2006) – Darren Aronofsky
The Fountain is a visually stunning and unique film. With a plot which is at times complex and challenging to follow, it demands the viewer’s full attention. In so doing, the movie is able to successfully convey important messages and concepts regarding reincarnation and karma, both of which are fundamental to Buddhism. The film follows the lives of two star-crossed lovers, as their romance and love are captured throughout history and across different incarnations. Their journey of self-knowledge and understanding is presented as having the potential to reunite them once more in another lifetime. This is a captivating and thought-provoking film worth watching.
Whilst no one movie can capture all of the Buddhist principles and teachings, there are many movies available which offer viewers the opportunity to reflect on the fundamental philosophy of Buddhism. Through movies, you can also engage in quiet contemplation and reflection and in so doing, take another important step on your own journey towards enlightenment.
Lauren Groff is a successful and experienced content writer at State Of Writing. She enjoys writing about movies and books.