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Posts Tagged ‘Vipassana’

Buddha is Culture

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 24, 2012

By Lary Yang, Buddhist Meditation teacher


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By2012 LGBT retreat at Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY

Towards a Multicultural Buddhist Practice

The three “jewels” or the Three Refuges is one of the core elements of Buddhist spiritual practice connected to all Buddhist traditions. In this series, the Refuges of Buddha’s Teachings — the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha — are explored through the lens of culture and cultural experience. These Refuges were offered by the Buddha to create safety and sense of spiritual home so that each practitioner can be invited to relax into the present moment of one’s Life, to be able to explore what this Life is for us, and to cultivate the Life we really wish to live. Even the word “Refuge” has a connotation, a feeling, of a safe haven wherein to go. It is said that when we invoke the Refuges, as happens in the beginning of meditation retreats or practice sessions, there is always someone else in the world taking on the Refuges at exactly the same moment. Across cultures, the intentions to create peacefulness and safety in the world are that prevalent.

And the Buddha is about Culture.

The Buddha’s expression about Freedom and Awakening has always been about culture, about diversity, and about the infinite variations in human experience with all the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows of this life. This remains a controversial issue within some Buddhist circles, including my home lineage of Buddhist practice. It may be different for other Buddhist traditions, but within communities of Vipassana or Insight Meditation, there is sometimes a predisposition to idealize the aspirations of spiritual practice, and to assume that the highest intention is to transcend the vicissitudes of this life, to somehow obviate the sorrows of this lifetime so that we only experience the pleasant, peaceful or sublime. I have heard dharma teachers bemoan conversations in diversity and culture, and say something like “Why do we dwell on our differences? The point of practice is to see our similarities.” Read the rest of this entry »

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First Buddha Film from Nepal to Pre-empt Bollywood Challenges

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 10, 2011

By Sudeshna Sarkar

Kathmandu, July 9 (IANS) Alarmed by Bollywood training its lenses on the Buddha, an Indian film director of Nepali origin is now making the first Buddha film from the Himalayan republic to bolster its claim to the founder of Buddhism.

Tulsi Ghimire, who moved from India’s hill town of Kalimpong to Mumbai first to learn acting and film-making and then made Kathmandu his home, has begun making “Gautam Buddha”, the first Buddha film from Nepal, the birthplace of the apostle of peace.

The 60-year-old, who gave the Nepali film industry such hits as “Kusume rumal” and “Balidaan”, says he was inspired to make the film after a conversation with Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and other places.

“First, there was this Bollywood movie, ‘Chandni Chowk to China’, that claimed the Buddha was born in Nepal,” Ghimire told IANS in an interview. “Then there are reports of renowned Bollywood director Ashutosh Gowarikar making an epic film on the Buddha.

“We are concerned whether there isn’t some political motivation – to lay claim to the Buddha. If Gowarikar builds the sets of Kapilavastu, the kingdom in which the Buddha was born to its ruler King Shuddhodan, the Indian state where it is erected may be regarded by many people as the birthplace of the Buddha.

“Some puzzled Sri Lankan monks actually asked me whether the Buddha was born in India or Nepal. I told them, he was born in Kapilavastu, when neither India nor Nepal existed. Archaeological ruins prove Kapilavastu was in southern Nepal. You can still see the remains of the old palace and the garden where the Buddha was born.”

“Gautam Buddha”, to be dubbed in English, Hindi, Sinhalese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese and German, is going to be an animated film and the first animated feature film from Nepal.

“It would have cost far less had I chosen people to play the roles,” he says ruefully. “But I found that impossible. The Buddha literature available details minutely the 32 auspicious signs Prince Siddharth possessed, that made him a king among men. He had arms that reached his knees, the large kindly eyes of a cow, and a voice as deep as an echoing well. I realised it would be impossible to find such an actor.”

Incidentally, Gowarikar is said to be on a manhunt to find the perfect face for his Buddha. “The Little Buddha”, the 1994 feature film made by Hollywood director Bernardo Bertolucci, obliquely presents the story of the Buddha and his quest for enlightenment, with Keanu Reaves playing the role. Read the rest of this entry »

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