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Zen Film Series -- Free Screenings on Friday Nights at 113 East 30th Street, New York, NY. (Take the number 6 train to the 28th Street Station.)


Friday October 6, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

On Meditation, Copyright © 2016 Kino Lorber, Alive Mind Cinema. On Meditation is being licensed through Kino Lorber (www.Kino.com). The Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month, Copyright © 2009 Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation. The Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month is being licensed through Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation (www.Tzuchi.org).

        On Meditation; Auspicious Seventh Month Screening Notice

On Meditation offers personal testimonials about the value of meditation. This absorbing documentary discusses the real, practical value of the quiet, private, interior practice of meditation. Participants include David Lynch, Giancarlo Esposito, Peter Matthiessen, The Venerable Metteyya, Russell Simmons, Congressman Tim Ryan, Elena Brower, Gabrielle Bernstein, Sharon Salzberg, Mark Epstein & Marlene Shechet. It is unexpected and inspiring to hear a U.S. Congressman talk about the value of meditation. 69 Minutes.

The Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month offers a different take on Chinese “Ghost Month.” Is the Seventh Lunar Month a time of fear? A time to avoid hungry ghosts and placate the gates of Hell? A time to avoid travel and business dealings? During Buddha's life, the 7th lunar month was when his disciples emerged after a three-month period of seclusion enforced by the rainy season. During the rainy season, poisonous snakes made traveling to beg for alms dangerous. The retreat allowed the Buddha’s disciples to attain great progress in their Dharma practice; Hence the completion of the summer retreat on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month was considered an auspicious occasion. This film comes to us from the Taiwan-based Tzu Chi Culture and Communications Foundation, founded by Buddhist Nun Dharma Master Cheng Yen, who is featured in the film. This is our Halloween offering for 2016. Spoken in Mandarin with English Subtitles. 48 minutes.

Admission is free.


Friday September 8, 2017 7:30 - 10:10 PM.

Silence, Copyright © 2017 Paramount. This film is being licensed through Swank Motion Pictures (www.swank.com).

        Silence Screening Notice

Christianity was introduced to Japan with the arrival of the Jesuit priest St. Francis Xavier from Spain in 1549. The religion gradually became quite popular and at one time claimed around 200,000 adherents, including 86 Daimyo converted between 1553 and 1620, with many converts centered on the island of Kyushu near Nagasaki. However, the shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi became alarmed by the growing influence of the Christian Daimyo, some of whom forced conversions on their subjects and also received direct military support from the Spanish and Portuguese in the form of muskets and gunpowder. In 1615, a Franciscan emissary of the Viceroy of New Spain asked the Shogun for land to build a Spanish fortress and this deepened Japan's suspicion against Catholicism. The statement on the "Expulsion of all missionaries from Japan" was drafted by Zen monk Konchiin Suden and issued in 1614 under the name of the shogun Tokugawa Hidetada. In the same year, the bakufu required all subjects of all domains to register at their local Buddhist temple; this would become an annual requirement in 1666, cementing Buddhist temples as instruments of state control. The Tokagawa Shogunate, Japan’s military government, used fumi-e to reveal practicing Catholics and sympathizers. Fumi-e were pictures of the Virgin Mary or Christ. People reluctant to step on the pictures were identified as Christians and taken to Nagasaki. If they refused to renounce their religion, they were tortured; those who still refused were executed. Silence is set during the period when the heavy persecution of Christians is well underway. It is a disturbing film centered on the activities of three Jesuit missionaries. 160 minutes.

Admission is free.


Friday August 11, 2017 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Professor, Tai Chi's Journey West, Copyright © 2016 First Run Features. This film is being licensed through First Run Features (www.firstrunfeatures.com).

        The Professor: Tai Chi's Journey West Screening Notice

Tai Chi has been described as “Zen in motion.” The Professor, Tai Chi’s Journey West describes the life and work of Cheng Man-Ching, who brought Tai Chi from Taiwan to New York during the 1960s. The film features testimonials from many of Cheng Man-Ching’s senior students, some of whom have gone on to become Tai Chi instructors. He practices the “internal martial art” with grace and power. The film gives a pretty good overview of Tai Chi Chuan, but it is not really an instructional video, rather, it’s more of a biographical documentary. There is included an “extra” clip of Cheng Man-Ching performing the 37 posture Yang-style short form, which we are going to screen. The Professor, Tai Chi’s Journey West details the cross-cultural transplantation of this gem of Chinese culture from China to America, and is an important historical resource. This film is being licensed through First Run Features, http://www.firstrunfeatures.com; 80 minutes.

Admission is free.


Friday July 7, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Moving From Emptiness: The Life and Art of a Zen Dude, Copyright © 2017 Kino Lorber. This film is being licensed through Kino Lorber (www.Kino.com).

        Moving From Emptiness -- The Life and Art of a Zen Dude Screening Notice

Moving From Emptiness is a presentation of the life and art of Alok Hsu Kwang-Han. His art is a combination of Zen, Chinese ink painting and abstract expressionism. Can you paint the sound of one hand clapping? Can you paint the meaning of Bodhidharma’s coming from the west? Does a dog have Buddha Nature? Can you paint that? Alok Hsu Kwang-han demonstrates both a unique art form and a very unusual, highly creative approach to Zen koans. Using rice paper and mostly black ink, he paints with the spontaneous intelligence that appears prior to thought.

Admission is free.


Friday June 9, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 20 through 22 in the series:

(20) Growing Up is not Easy -- Facing Impermanence
(21) Toward a Science of Wisdom
(22) The Promise of Enlightenment

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com.

Admission is free.


Friday May 12, 2017 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, Copyright 2009 © Alive Mind/Kino Lorber. This film is being licensed through Alive Mind/Kino Lorber.

        Download The Tibetan Book of the Dead Screening Notice

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a film we screened back in May, 2010. We are screening it again because it was a signature piece by Leonard Cohen, an old friend of the First Zen Institute who passed away on November 7, 2016. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Thodol, otherwise known as the “Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation” was written by the great Tibetan saint Padmasambhava in the 8th century. It is probably the most celebrated and widely read work of Tibetan literature outside Tibet. Depending on different interpretations, it is either a practical guide to prepare the soul for its next incarnation or an advanced guide for practitioners of Buddhist meditation. Either way, it is a difficult and abstruse text.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a pair of documentary films about death and dying, narrated by Leonard Cohen. Part I: A Way of Life, discusses the history of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and its application in the Himalayas today, where it is used as a guide to help the deceased navigate the treacherous passage to the next life. It is also presented in the context of a modern hospice in California. Part II: The Great Liberation shows an old Lama and a young acolyte as they guide a newly deceased Himalayan villager through the afterlife using readings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Tibetan Book of The Dead is being licensed through Alive Mind/Kino Lorber. 90 minutes.

Admission is free.


Friday April 7, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Ven. Jian Zhen, Copyright © Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation. This film is being licensed through the Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation.

        Download Ven. Jian Zhen Screening Notice

Ven. Jian Zhen (688-763) was one of the most respected Chinese monks of the Tang dynasty, and was the head of a large temple in Yangzhou. In this film, Jian Zhen (J. Ganjin) is approached by Japanese monks who extend an invitation from the Japanese Emperor to teach the Chinese Buddhist precepts in Japan. He accepts this request, proving his dedication in a journey that takes eleven years, five unsuccessful attempts and the loss of his eyesight before he finally crosses the ocean and arrives in 754. At Nara he presides over a large ordination ceremony, which had long been awaited in Japan, not only by many Japanese priests of high standing but also by Emperors Shomu and Koken. Japan was gradually forming itself into a Buddhist country, and Jian Zhen’s arrival provided an important impetus to that end. In his own words:

The Moon knows my aspiration of going abroad to pass on the torch. I will not be stopped by obstacles, teaching Buddhism with a pure heart.

Once in Nara, he founded Toshodai temple in the year 756. He was a monk in the Risshu sect, one of the six Buddhist sects in Nara, known for its emphasis on the Vinaya. He is noteworthy for his discipline and perseverance in the face of repeated failures – due to uncooperative government officials, bad weather and faulty maritime navigation. This is a high quality animated film with a well-written script. Spoken in Mandarin with English subtitles. Licensed through the Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation., www.en.tzuchiculture.org. 100 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday March 3, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 17 through 19 in the series:

(17) Overcoming Traumas Large and Small
(18) Groundbreaking Mindfulness Programs
(19) The Neurobiology of Self-Preoccupation

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday February 10, 2017 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Paths of the Soul, Copyright © 2015 Icarus Films. This film is being licensed through Icarus Films (www.icaruefilms.com).

        Download Paths of the Soul Screening Notice

Paths of the Soul is a journey of faith, redemption and devotion. This is a tale about a small band of travelers who depart from home, leaving their families behind, and bow their way from the Tibetan town of Nyima across 1,200 miles to the holy city of Lhasa. This is followed by a shorter bowing journey around the holy mountain – Mt. Kailash. Every four or five steps is followed by a full prostration where they stretch out flat on the ground. One traveler needs to expunge bad family karma, another is a butcher who wants to cleanse animal bloodstains from his soul, and another, nearing his life’s end, hopes that the prostrations will break the chain of cause and effect determined by his life’s actions. One is a pregnant woman and one is a young girl leaving home for the first time. Their carefully planned journey is an incredible physical and spiritual endeavor. The film was shot above 13,000 feet, through rugged and beautiful country. You are with them on the road through the entire journey. Their difficulties are your difficulties and their triumphs are your triumphs. Paths of the Soul is being licensed through Icarus films, (www.icarusfilms.com). Spoken in Tibetan with English subtitles. Admission is free.


Friday January 13, 2017 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Tantric Secrets of Sacred Sex, Copyright © 2006 Lightworks. This film is being licensed through Lightworks (www.LightworksAV.com).

        Download The Tantric Secrets of Sacred Sex Screening Notice

The Tantric Secrets of Sacred Sex is a presentation of classical Buddhist/Hindu tantric sex as practiced by half a dozen attractive modern-day monogamous couples. Tantric sex is a slow approach to love-making, and developed in India during an historical time period when people had more time on their hands than they do today. It is sometimes recommended by sex therapists for couples who have problems achieving intimacy. Hire a baby sitter and set aside three hours for love-making. Sanctify the space with flowers, incense and candles. Take it nice and slow and allow sexual excitation to build, employing a variety of techniques, such as sensual massage, synchronous breathing, guided imagery and erotic dancing. Allow openness and trust to build gradually. There is some discussion of postures, with particular emphasis on yab-yum. Holding off on sexual climax is an important part of the process. Love-making becomes almost a meditative experience. The Tantric Secrets of Sacred Sex received an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. It is being licensed through Lightworks, (www.LightworksAV.com). Admission is free.


Friday November 11, 2016 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 14 through 16 in the series:

(14) Transforming Chronic Pain
(15) Placebos, Illness and the Power of Belief
(16) Interrupting Addiction and Troublesome Habits

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday October 21, 2016 7:30 - 9:20 PM.

Nang Nak (Ghost Wife)

        Download Nang Nak (Ghost Wife) screening notice

Nang Nak is an old Thai folk tale, and is set during the Thai-Vietnamese war of 1831-1834. A young citizen-soldier goes off to war leaving behind his pregnant wife. The two of them are deeply in love. He suffers serious battle wounds and has to convalesce in a hospital for many months. When he finally returns home, his pretty young wife greets him warmly with their infant son, and it is only gradually that he learns that something is amiss – he doesn’t see the ghost, even though the neighbors have seen it for a long time. In the end, the kingdom’s most famous Buddhist monk, Somdej Toh, arrives to exorcise the ghost using powerful magic. Somdej Toh was a real historical monk. His images and statues are among the most revered icons in Bangkok today, and his magical amulets are widely sought-after.

Nang Nak was produced in 1996 and set box-office records in Thailand when it was first released. This is our Halloween offering for 2016. Admission is free.


Friday September 9, 2016 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 11 through 13 in the series:

(11) Connecting with Children and Adolescents
(12) Seeing Sadness and Depression in a New Light
(13) Befriending Fear, Worry and Anxiety

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday August 12, 2016 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

A Pearl in the Forest, Copyright © 2009 Igugan Entertainment. This film is being screened courtesy of Idugan Entertainment.

        Download A Pearl in the Forest screening notice

Stalin’s collectivization of ethnic Mongolian farmers and herders during the 1920s and 1930s forced many of them to flee from Russia into Mongolia. The border between Russia and Mongolia is long and heavily forested and leaks like a sieve, and the Mongolians are a nomadic people, so movement is easy for them. Unable to stop the border crossings, the Soviets demanded help from their Mongolian allies to deal with anyone who did not comply with their demands. During the 1930s there were many trials in the “Great Purge”, including six trials of Mongolian Buddhist clergy, many of them accused of the crime of “raising the prestige of religion.” An estimated 18,000 Buddhist clergy were executed, along with countless thousands of other Mongolian citizens. A Pearl in the Forest tells the story of a small Mongolian village caught up in Stalin’s collectivizations. One of the local boys has joined the Communist Party and is directly involved in jailing and murdering his former neighbors and members of his own family. There is a love story woven into the fabric of the tale, and the “Pearl in the Forest” is a baby born in the wilderness. But where is the Buddhism in this film? There is a village idiot dressed in rags, always smiling and friendly with everybody – even when smiling is inappropriate – who can be seen playing with the village children – not unlike Ryokan. A Pearl in the Forest is a powerful film with a surprise ending. Spoken in Mongolian with English subtitles, it is being screened courtesy of Idugan Entertainment, www.idugan.com. 90 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday July 8, 2016 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 8 through 10 in the series:

(8) Tailoring Practices to Fit Changing Needs
(9) Modifying Our Brain Function and Structure
(10) Solitude - An Antidote to Loneliness

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday June 10, 2016 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

Yangsi, Copyright © 2014 Kino Lorber. This film is being licensed through Kinolorber.com.

        Download Yangsi Screening Notice

Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche (1910-1991) was a revered Tibetan Lama. He spent many years enduring austerities, including prolonged meditation retreats in caves in the Himalayas. His life story is chronicled in the film Brilliant Moon. Being worshipped by crowds of adult followers seems natural enough for an elderly teacher. However, it is a bit jarring to see many of these same followers worshipping his four-year old reincarnation. Jigme Lhundrup is Yangsi, a tulku – a reincarnated holy man – and is the son of Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, one of the founders of the Kya-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery in Katmandu, Nepal. How he came to be recognized as a reincarnation of Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche is explored in detail in Yangsi. Yangsi is a sensitively drawn portrait and follows the life of Jigme Lhundrup from early childhood until he reaches his late teens. By the end of the film, he is now a teenager, and a girl his own age in the audience asks him: “When you were a boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?” Needless to say, he didn’t really have much choice in the matter. Yangsi is being licensed through Kino Lorber, www.kinolorber.com. 81 minutes.


Friday May 6, 2016 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

Kumaré, Copyright © 2011 Kino Lorber. This film is being licensed through Kinolorber.com.

        Download Kumaré Screening Notice

Kumaré is the story of documentary film maker Vikram Ghandi, an American of Indian descent. Growing up in New Jersey, he is taken aback and disgusted by the blind faith which some Americans place in Indian gurus. A film maker by profession, with no prior religious vocation, he assumes a phony Indian accent, dons the orange robes of a sadhu, and with the help of a pair of female accomplices, moves to Phoenix, Arizona, where he sets himself up as a Guru. Without too much difficulty, in a short while, he acquires a sizable following insisting all the while that his followers are all their own gurus. His followers are mostly naïve, sincere, spiritually-minded people. Kumaré is a provocative social-experiment/documentary. Eventually he must reveal the hoax. 84 minutes. Admission is free.


Friday April 8, 2016 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 5 through 7 in the series:

(5) Mindfulness or Psychotherapy
(6) Attention and Empathy in Relationships
(7) The Science of Compassion and Self-Compassion

Each of these lectures will be followed by a brief discussion period – warranted by the intensity and complexity of the lectures. Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday March 4, 2016 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Lost Treasures of Afghanistan, Copyright © 2005 National Geographic. Lost Treasures of Afghanistan is being licensed through Swank Motion Pictures (www.Swank.com). Angkor for Sale?, Copyright © 2013 Kultur Videos. Angkor for Sale? is being screened courtesy of Kultur Videos (www.Kultur.com).

        Download Screening Notice

Lost Treasures of Afghanistan details the looting and destruction of Buddhist art treasures by the Taliban, including the giant Buddha statues at Bamiyan. Fanatical members of the Taliban believe that all images are sacrilegious, and go about destroying them with sledge hammers, fire or dynamite. This is a film about courageous Afghans determined to preserve their cultural heritage. Included also is a simulated re-enactment of the visit to Bamiyan and its monumental Buddha statues by the Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang 1,400 years ago. 56 minutes.

Angkor for Sale discusses the wholesale looting of Cambodia’s artistic heritage – a profitable enterprise carried out with direct participation of the Cambodian army. Angkor Wat is one of the world’s largest and most magnificent archeological sites, but the cultural heritage of the ancient Khmer empire has been the target of art theft on a massive scale. One statue stolen from a local Cambodian museum ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This film was screened on location in Cambodia and Bangkok Thailand, where many of the Cambodian antiquities are removed for sale. 53 minutes. Admission is free.


Friday February 12, 2016 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

10 Questions for the Dalai Lama, Copyright © 2006 Rick Ray Films. This film is being licensed through Swank Motion Pictures (www.Swank.com).

        Download 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama Screening Notice

Why do poor people often seem happier than rich people? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? Will there be another Dalai Lama? These are some of the questions Rick Ray poses to the Dalai Lama – he actually poses more than 10 questions. With the insertion of background material and video clips during the actual interview process, the film is quite engrossing. It also touches on some fairly loaded political material, such as the fate of the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama comes across as very much an ordinary human being of great wisdom and great spirit. 85 minutes. This film is being licensed through Swank Motion Pictures, http://www.swank.com. Admission is free.


Friday January 8, 2015 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being, Copyright © 2014 The Great Courses. This film is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company (www.Thegreatcourses.com).

        Download The Science of Mindfulness Screening Notice

The Science of Mindfulness: A Research-Based Path to Well-Being is a 24-lecture series on centered on research findings surrounding mindfulness and meditation. This screening is going to present modules 1 through 4 in the series:

(1) Why Mindfulness Matters
(2) Our Troublesome Brains
(3) Informal, Formal and Intensive Practices
(4) Who Am I? The Perils of Self

Dr. Ronald D. Siegel is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychotherapy at the Harvard Medical School and an Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is the author or editor of a number of important publications, including: The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, http://www.thegreatcourses.com. Admission is free.


Friday November 6, 2015 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Long Search, Copyright © 2014 Ambrose Video. This film is being licensed through Ambrose Video (www.Ambrosevideo.com).

        Download The Long Search Screening Notice

The Long Search is a BBC classic first screened in the 1970s, and includes modules dealing with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and African and Indonesian animist faiths.

Volume 3: Buddhism: Footprint of the Buddha - India takes us to Sri Lanka to explore the Theravadin Buddhism of southeast Asia. We meet with Buddhist monks, including one American, schoolchildren, novices and housewives. Each offers something of his own experience to help us understand a religion that has high moral principles but does not believe in God. 54 minutes.

Volume 9: Buddhism: Land of the Disappearing Buddha – Japan takes us on a tour of a much more secular Mahayana Buddhist country. Would the Buddha of Japan and the Buddha of India recognize one another if they were to meet? We are taken to a Japanese restaurant where the staff members practice regular Zen meditation. We are introduced to pure-land Buddhism, and are given a rare opportunity to see a sanzen encounter between a Zen monk and Mumon Yamada, the abbot of Myoshin-ji. 54 minutes. Admission is free.


Friday October 2, 2015 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Onibaba, Copyright © 1964, 2004 The Criterion Collection. This film is being licensed through The Criterion Collection(www.Criterion.com).

        Download Onibaba Screening Notice

Deep within the wind-swept marshes of war-torn medieval Japan, an impoverished mother and her daughter-in-law eke out a lonely, desperate existence. They murder lost samurai and sell their belongings for grain. They dump the corpses down a deep, dark hole and live off of their meager spoils. When a bedraggled neighbor returns from the war, lust, jealousy, and rage threaten to destroy the trio's tenuous existence, before an ominous, ill-gotten demon mask seals their horrifying fate. Driven by primal emotions, dark eroticism, a frenzied score by Hikaru Hayashi, and stunning images both lyrical and macabre, Kaneto Shindo’s chilling folktale, Onibaba, is a singular cinematic experience.

Onibaba derives its demon-mask sequence from an old Buddhist folk tale involving a mother and her daughter-in-law. The daughter-in-law is very pious and frequently goes to temple to pray to the Buddha. Her mother-in-law despises this and waits for her on a path at night. She jumps out in front of her daughter-in-law while wearing a Noh demon mask and frightens her to death. Then, the mother-in-law finds it impossible to remove the demon mask, which is now stuck to her face. After unsuccessfully trying to remove it, she prays to the Buddha to allow her to remove the mask. Eventually, she is able to pull the mask off of her face, but it removes the skin of her face along with it. Onibaba means “female demon.” Onibaba is our Halloween offering this year. Admission is free.


Friday September 4, 2014 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Kang Youwei and Hu Shi (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Modern Legacies (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     East and West (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company

     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules 33 through 36 and will conclude the series.

  • Kang Youwei and Hu Shi
  • Sun Yat-sen and Mao Zedong
  • Modern Legacies
  • East and West
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses. Admission is free.


Friday August 7, 2015 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

The Dhamma Brothers, Copyright © 2008 Freedom Behind Bars Productions. This film is being screened courtesy of Freedom Behind Bars Productions (www.DhammaBrothers.com).

        Download The Dhamma Brothers Screening Notice

The Dhamma Brothers: “This provocative film follows a small group of inmates through a strict course of Vipassana meditation. For nine days participants must abstain from talking (as well as from killing, stealing and intoxicants) and follow a regimented schedule of meals, rest and noble silence. According to the convicted murderer Grady Bankhead, those nine days were tougher than his eight years on Death Row. Directed by Jenny Phillips (an anthropologist and psychotherapist who initiated the program), Andrew Kukura and Anne Marie Stein, The Dhamma Brothers offers a constructive alternative to the hopelessness of human warehousing. Opening up her film to include prison staff (cautiously impressed with the students behavioral changes), inmates families and members of the public, Ms. Phillips candidly documents the mixed emotions and institutional conflicts aroused by the introduction of a Buddhist practice in a predominantly Christian prison. Vipassana means to see things as they are, says Bruce Stewart, one of the program s two teachers. For men like Mr. Bankhead, that may be the only freedom they will ever know.” --The New York Times. Approx. 120 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday July 10, 2015 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

Xi'an Chang'an, The Cradle of Chinese Civilization is being screened courtesy of Kultur Videos, Copyright © 2012 (56 minutes).
Hue, City on the Perfume River is being screened courtesy of the Kultur Videos, Copyright © 2012 (57 minutes).

           Download Xi'an Chang'an and Hue Screening Notice

Xian Chang’an, The Cradle of Chinese Civilization: depicts the ancient Chinese capital of Xi’an, lying at the eastern end of the silk road. In previous centuries it was the entry point for Buddhist, Christian and Islamic missionaries traveling to China. This video shows us the army of terracotta warriors just to the north of Xi’an, and the “Forest of Stele” – a huge array of stones on which were carved imperial edicts, Buddhist sutras and other documents. The stones were inked to make multiple copies on paper. The film includes Buddhist temple rituals and a performance from T’ang dynasty theater, as well as visits to Han and T’ang dynasty imperial tombs. Screened courtesy of Kultur Videos, 56 minutes.

Hue, City on the Perfume River: depicts the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hue. Modeled on China’s Forbidden City, the city of Hue was the imperial capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. The video focuses on the tombs, Buddhist temples, the citadel of Hue, and of course, on the Song Huan river, the “Perfume River” so called because of the fragrant pollen which it carries at certain times of year. Screened courtesy of Kultur Videos, 57 Minutes.


Friday June 12, 2014 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Science and Technology in Pre-Modern Asia (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Mohammad Iqbal and Rabindranath Tagore (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Mohandas Gandhi – Satyagraha or Soul-Force (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Fukuzawa Yukichi and Han Yongun (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company

     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules 29 through 32 in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Science and Technology in Pre-Modern Asia
  • Mohammad Iqbal and Rabindranath Tagore
  • Mohandas Gandhi – Satyagraha or Soul-Force
  • Fukuzawa Yukichi and Han Yongun
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday May 1, 2015 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Zen Gardens at Kinkakuji is being screened courtesy of The Institute For Zen Studies, Copyright © 2009 (20 minutes).
Bones of the Buddha is being licensed through the NOVA/Public Broadcasting Corporation, Copyright © 2013 (60 minutes).

           Download Zen Gardens/Bones of the Buddha Screening Notice

The Zen Gardens at Kinkakuji, a UNESCO World Heritage Site: The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa, and was purchased by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes, the “Temple of the Golden Pavilion.” The Temple and gardens constitute the Kinkaku-ji complex, a superb Muromachi period Zen garden. This film is being screened courtesy of The Institute For Zen Studies, 20 minutes.

Secrets of the Dead - Bones of the Buddha: Did nineteenth century British landowner W.C. Peppé really discover gold, jewels and the charred bones of the Buddha on his estate in Uttar Pradesh? The British landowner, who fancied himself an archeologist, did an exploration of a mysterious mound which he found on his estate. His amateurish approach and involvement of a crooked German archeologist discredited the entire excavation of the Piprahwa stupa. Buried in the mound were 1600 small jewels and pieces of gold, and a reliquary containing ashes and fragments of human bone purportedly interred by the Indian Emperor Ashoka. More recently, the Piprahwa stupa was re-investigated by a professional team, and further digging revealed an additional layer of objects most likely dating back to the time of the Buddha. Secrets of the Dead - Bones of the Buddha is being licensed through NOVA/Public Broadcasting Corporation. 60 Minutes.


Friday April 3, 2015 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Light of Asia (97 minutes), Soundtrack Copyright © 2001 Rare Film Classics, . This film is being screened courtesy of Rare Film Classics

        Download The Light Of Asia Screening Notice

Prem Sanyas (The Light of Asia) (Die Leuchte Asiens in German) is a 1925 silent film, directed by Franz Osten and Himansu Rai. It was adapted from Sir Edwin Arnold’s epic poem, The Light of Asia (1879), based on the life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. The film was an Indo-European co-production, released during the time of the Weimar Republic, with German technicians and Indian actors. It was made with the cooperation of the Maharajah of Jaipur and included a cast of thousands. Shooting took place in Lahore, in what is now Pakistan, where the set decoration was created by Devika Rani, the wife of actor/director Himanshu Rai. The film was released in the USA by the Film Arts Guild on 11 May 1928. The Light of Asia depicts the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama (portrayed by director Himansu Rai), the man who became the Buddha, as he journeys from privilege and seclusion to awareness of the inevitability of life's suffering, finally renouncing his kingdom to seek enlightenment. The film features the competitive tests of manhood which Siddhartha must undergo in order to win his wife, and depicts the machinations of Siddhartha’s evil cousin Devadatta. In what is definitely a piece of poetic license, Gopa, the Buddha’s wife, instead of staying at home in the palace after his departure, goes after him into the forest and becomes his first disciple! This film is being screened courtesy of Rare Film Classics. 97 Minutes.
Admission is free.


Friday March 6, 2015 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Zen Gardens at Tofukuji is being screened courtesy of The Institute For Zen Studies, Copyright © 2009 (20 minutes).
Zen and War is being screened courtesy of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation, Copyright © 2013 (60 minutes).

           Download Zen Gardens/Zen and War Screening Notice

The Zen Gardens at Tofukuji: Tofukuji is a large temple complex located at the foot of the East Mountains in Kyoto, and home to some of Japan’s greatest Buddhist architecture. Crossing the Bridge to Heaven over the Sengyoku Ravine, the visitor enters the dry landscape garden in the precincts of the Founder’s Hall. For centuries this has been a place of Zen practice. This beautiful DVD shows the garden at all seasons of the year. The Zen Gardens at Tofukuji is being screened courtesy of The Institute For Zen Studies, 20 minutes.

Zen and War: In the beginning of the 20th century Japan waged a number of wars during which it committed atrocities throughout Asia and the Pacific. In 1998 Brian Victoria's book "Zen At War" documented the participation of Buddhist monks in these hostilities. In Zen and War, Japanese Zen monks question their predecessors' wartime collaboration for the first time. A Dutch woman, Ina Buitendijk, whose husband suffered duration his internment in a Japanese camp, took the initiative to ask Zen institutions how monks could have become involved in wartime violence. Contemporary Zen masters, seeing the continuing suffering, responded to her inquiries. Zen and War is being screened courtesy of the Buddhist Broadcasting Foundation, 60 Minutes.


Friday February 6, 2015 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

The Dalai Lama Looks Back is being licensed through the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (www.hooverpress.org), Copyright © Hoover Institution (60 minutes).
Tibet - The Truth is being screened courtesy of Monarex Hollywood (www.Monarex.com). Copyright © 2013 Monarex Hollywood (60 minutes).

           Download Firing Line/Tibet The Truth Screening Notice

The Dalai Lama Looks Back is a 1984 interview of the Dalai Lama by William F. Buckley. The present Dalai Lama assumed the position of supreme spiritual leader of Tibet in 1950, the same year that Mao’s army invaded Tibet. In 1959, he fled to India, after, as Mr. Buckley relates, “an uprising against the Chinese Communists which would result, in the ensuing decades, in a holocaust that would rank with Hitler’s and Pol Pot’s: 1.2 million Tibetans killed, one-seventh of the population.” As the Dalai Lama puts it: “if there is a clear-cut dialogue between Buddhists and Marxists, it may help the Marxists and they may eventually become more human – less rigid – for the Buddhists have the message of love and compassion… The Dalai Lama Looks Back is being licensed through the Hoover Institution (www.hooverpress.org). 60 minutes.

Tibet - The Truth presents a Chinese Communist perspective on the relationship between Tibet and China. In the words of Monarex: “Tibet’s geo-political history is fairly clear up to the 19th and 20th centuries. It was during this period that Western Imperialism began to muddy the waters and campaigns were launched to create an insecure western border for China. Additional influences include rampant civil unrest within China, the forming of the Republic of China after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Japanese aggression that tormented the people of China for many years, and finally, the involvement of the United States (namely the CIA) in using the 14th Dalai Lama as a poster-child and ally in its Anti-Communist agenda during the Cold War. Before 1959, the year the People’s Liberation of China quelled the Upper-Class Tibetan Revolt, the vast majority of Tibetans were subjected to slavery and serfdom, a major issue that is chronically ignored in any popular assessment of Chinese-Tibetan history.” Tibet – The Truth is being screened courtesy of Monarex Hollywood (www.Monarex.com). 60 minutes.

Admission is free.


Friday January 9, 2014 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Dogen and Hakuin – Zen Buddhism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Zeami and Sen no Rikyu – Japanese Aesthetics (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Wonhyo to King Sejong – Korean Philosophy (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Padmasambhava to Tsongkhapa – Tibetan Ideas (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company

     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules 25 through 28 in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Dogen and Hakuin – Zen Buddhism
  • Zeami and Sen no Rikyu – Japanese Aesthetics
  • Wonhyo to King Sejong – Korean Philosophy
  • Padmasambhava to Tsongkhapa – Tibetan Ideas
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday December 12, 2014 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

A History of Zen Buddhism, Part II: Rise and Fall (68 minutes) and Part III: Zen Comes West (30 Minutes), Copyright © 2009 Vajra Video. This film is being screened courtesy of James Zito and Vajra Video

        Download A History of Zen Buddhism, Parts II and III Screening Notice

A History of Zen Buddhism, Part II: Rise and Fall traces Zen’s golden age in Japan through its steep rise and tremendous growth through its period of aesthetic excess and spiritual decadence to a period of great destruction and eventual renewal. Here the lives of some of Japan’s most important masters such as Daito Kokushi, Ikkyu Sojun and Hakuin Ekaku, as well as the Zen poet Ryokan are examined in detail. In addition, there are segments examining the role of the tea ceremony in Zen and a look at the evolution and function of Zen art and calligraphy. 68 Minutes. Part III: Zen Comes West discusses the current state of Zen in Japan and the dissemination of Zen to the West. It also shows how Zen’s core values are being revitalized in its journey to the West and contains an examination of the fundamental role of meditation in the practice of Zen Buddhism. 30 minutes. A History of Zen Buddhism, Parts II and III, is being screened courtesy of James Zito and Vajra Video. Admission is free.


Friday November 7, 2014 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

A History of Zen Buddhism, Part I: Zen Beginnings (60 Minutes), Copyright © 2009 Vajra Video. This film is being screened courtesy of James Zito and Vajra Video
The Zen Garden at Ginkakuji (20 Minutes), Copyright © The Institute For Zen Studies. This film is being screened courtesy of The Institute For Zen Studies

           Download A History of Zen Buddhism, Part I Screening Notice

A History of Zen Buddhism, Part I: Zen Beginnings is a documentary about the early history of Zen Buddhism. It covers Zen in China and the early introduction of Zen into Japan. It also places Zen within the larger historical context of Buddhism in general. It profiles the important Zen masters Eisai, Dogen and Muso Soseki, and examines the etiology and aesthetic of the Zen Garden. Parts II and III will be screened in December at the First Zen Institute of America. 60 minutes. The Zen Garden at Ginkakuji. Ginkakuji was founded by the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa following his retirement to Kyoto’s East Mountains for a life of peaceful seclusion. The Ginkakuji garden is a typical stroll around garden, designed for appreciation from wherever one is on the path that surrounds the central Kinkyo-chi pond. The garden includes a distinctive expanse known as the “Sea of Silver” and a large, flat topped sand cone known as the “Moon-Viewing Platform”. This beautiful DVD shows shots of the garden at all seasons of the year. 20 minutes. A History of Zen Buddhism, Part I: Zen Beginnings, is being screened courtesy of James Zito and Vajra Video. The Zen Garden at Ginkakuji is being screened courtesy of The Institute for Zen Studies. Admission is free.


Friday October 17, 2014 7:30 - 9:00 PM.

A Month of Hungry Ghosts - When They All Return (95 Minutes), Copyright (c) 2009 Mythopolis Pictures. This film is being screened courtesy of Mythopolis Pictures (http://Mythopolis.com), and is available for purchase directly on their website or through Amazon.com

        Download A Month of Hungry Ghosts Screening Notice

A Month of Hungry Ghosts - When They All Return is a documentary about the annual "Hungry Ghost Festival" in Singapore. During the seventh lunar month the gates of hell open up and all souls are free to wander the earth and revisit their former habitations in ghostly form.. It is the occasion for many religious and folk festivals. The Buddhists invite the dead by candlelight, Taoists perform rituals to appease the spirits, and there is much superstition in business, financial markets and personal lives. If you want grandfather to enjoy himself in the afterlife, then burn "hell currency" money, paper cars, houses and computers so that he can take them with him to the next world. Thousand year old Buddhist scrolls help to explain the origins of ghost month. This film is decked out with vibrant images and is at times playful and at times eerie. Traditional Chinese instruments and folk songs provide a colorful soundtrack. This film is our Halloween offering this year, and is being provided courtesy of Mythopolis Pictures, http://mythopolis.com/. Admission is free.


Friday September 5, 2014 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Al-Biruni - Islam in India (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Nanak and Sirhindi - Sikhism and Sufism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Han Yu to Zhu Xi - Neo-Confucianism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Wang Yangming - The Study of Heart-Mind (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company

     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules 21 through 24 in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Al-Biruni - Islam in India
  • Nanak and Sirhindi - Sikhism and Sufism
  • Han Yu to Zhu Xi - Neo-Confucianism
  • Wang Yangming - The Study of Heart-Mind
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday August 08, 2014 7:30 PM.

     Marco Polo's Roof of the World (90 Minutes), Copyright (c) 2007 Monarex Hollywood. This film is being screened courtesy of Monarex Hollywood (www.monarex.com).

        Download Marco Polo's Roof of the World Screening Notice

Marco Polo's Roof of the World is a documentary dealing with life around Qinghai lake in eastern Tibet. This is a watershed region, the source of many rivers, and home to several exotic species of birds. As a holy place for Tibetan Buddhists, it is not uncommon to see Tibetan pilgrims circumambulating Qinghai Lake. The film follows a group of pilgrims as they make progress on their journey around the lake. One full prostration, three steps forward, another full prostration, another three steps forward, and so forth around the full 200 mile circumference of the lake - similar to the practice of circumambulating Mt. Kailash in western Tibet. The film also takes us inside a Tibetan convent and finishes off with Bon tradition Shamans. The Shamans are highly unusual. They perform blood rituals and go into trance states resembling the trance states of the Tibetan Oracle. Some of the magic and rituals found in Tibetan Buddhism appear to have been borrowed from the Bon tradition. This is a beautifully shot film with expert cinematography. It has little to do with Marco Polo apart from the fact that the Venetian explorer traveled through this part of China and recorded his experiences in his book, "The Travels of Marco Polo." Admission is free.


Friday July 11, 2014 7:30 - 9:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Xuanzang and Chinese Buddhism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Prince Shotoku, Lady Murasaki, Sei Shonagon (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Saicho to Nichiren—Japanese Buddhism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva—Hindu Vedanta (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules 17 through 20 in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Xuanzang and Chinese Buddhism
  • Prince Shotoku, Lady Murasaki, Sei Shonagon
  • Saicho to Nichiren—Japanese Buddhism
  • Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva—Hindu Vedanta
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday June 20, 2014 7:30 PM.

     Aloha Buddha (93 Minutes) A Film by Loraine Minatoishi-Palumbo. © 2011 Radiant Features. This film is licensed through alohabuddhafilm.com.

        Download Aloha Buddha Screening Notice

Japanese immigrants first came to Hawai'i in 1868 to work on American sugar plantations. They constructed nearly 300 Buddhist temples throughout the Hawaiian Islands, representing many different sects, including Jodo Shin-shu, Shingon, Nichiren, Higashi Hongwanji and Soto Zen. In some cases, they built Indian style temples, filled them with Christian church pews and sang modified hymns which praise the Buddha instead of Jesus. Today the Buddhism which they created is fading, its temples are closing down and its aging congregations are dying off. Aloha Buddha documents the history of Japanese immigrants in Hawai'i and the modified form of Buddhism which they created in their new home. Lorraine Minatoishi-Palumbo wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on the Japanese Buddhist temples of Hawai'i. For many years, Buddhism was the majority religion in Hawai'i, but the Hawaiian Japanese community suffered large dislocations during World War II, and this contributed to a long decline in Hawaiian Buddhism. While Buddhism was and still is central to the life of the Japanese communities in Hawaii, it is going through a prolonged transformation. This documentary includes restored archival film material and was funded in part by a grant from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities. Admission is free.


Friday May 16, 2014 7:30 PM.

     Souls of Zen (93 Minutes) A Film by Tim Graf and Jakob Montrasio. © 2013 m&r Kreativ Gmbh. This film is being screened courtesy of m&r Kreativ Gmbh.

        Download Souls of Zen Screening Notice

The tsunami of 2011 and its aftermath, including the lethal radioactivity released by the Fukushima nuclear reactor, created a massive humanitarian crisis in Japan. Prior to the time the tsunami hit, Tim Graf from the Institut Für Religions-Wissenschaft of the University of Heidelberg and Jakob Montrasio, an experienced cinematographer, traveled to Japan to film a documentary in support of Graf's research into Zen Buddhism. They had started working on their film just before the tsunami struck. The resulting documentary provides a unique window into the practice of Zen Buddhism and the way in which Zen priests and monks handled the crisis. They opened up their temples to support homeless survivors, played a pivotal role in mourning the dead and caring for the bereaved, and helped to rebuild shattered communities. Souls of Zen provides shocking and disturbing images of the tsunami and its aftermath, and gives direct insights into Zen Buddhist beliefs and practices regarding death and dying. Spoken in English and Japanese with English subtitles. 93 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday April 11, 2014 7:30 PM.

     They Call It Myanmar (83 Minutes) Directed by Robert Lieberman. © 2012 Docurama. This film is licensed through PhotoSynthesis Productions, www.pspny.com.

        Download They Call It Myanmar Screening Notice

They Call It Myanmar is a documentary about modern-day Myanmar, a.k.a. Burma. It picks up in documentary format where The Lady (the film screened last month at the First Zen Institute) leaves off. They Call It Myanmar culls the best footage from over 120 hours of striking images. It features interviews and interactions with more than 100 people throughout Burma, and these ordinary citizens are the stars of the show. The film showcases real humor, hope and warmth coming from people who have lived for decades under a repressive military dictatorship. There are numerous shots of temples, monks and ordinary laborers. The film provides real insight into a beautiful and troubled country. The director was finishing off his production in 2010 when he learned of Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest, and arranged an interview with her. The film is not about Aung San Suu Kyi, but her interview is weaved into an overall tapestry about Burma, and she shares some candid insights and wisdom. The film was shot at a turning point in Burma's history, as the nation has opened up considerably since 2010. Aung San Suu Kyi was elected to Burma's parliament in 2012 and plans to run for the presidency in 2015. The footage shown here was - at the time - shot clandestinely, before Burma had deposed its military dictators and opened up to the outside world. 83 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday March 7, 2014 7:30 PM.

     The Lady (128 Minutes) Starring Michele Yeoh and David Thewlis. © 2011 Cohen Media Group. This film is licensed through Swank Motion Pictures, www.Swank.com.

        Download The Lady Screening Notice

The Lady is a dramatization of the life story of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The story starts with the murder of her father, a Burmese national hero who freed Burma from both British and Japanese rule. Forty years later, she is a British housewife with two young sons. The story is told both from her perspective and that of her husband, an Oxford professor who is slowly dying of cancer. Her pleasant life in Britain comes to an end when she visits Burma on the occasion of her mother's death, and becomes the de-facto leader of the protest movement against the military regime. She faces down hordes of gun-toting soldiers like the Buddha facing down a rampaging elephant. Her imprisonment at the hands of the Burmese military dictatorship lasts for years, and only comes to an end when a small army of Buddhist monks demand her release. Michelle Yeoh puts in a strong performance, reproducing Aung San Suu Kyi's mannerisms and stern but compassionate facial expressions. Michelle Yeoh learned Burmese so that she could deliver some of Aung San Suu Kyi's most famous speeches. Her inspirational performance is mirrored by that of David Thewlis, who plays Aung San Suu Kyi's husband, Michael Aris. 128 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday February 7, 2014 7:30 PM.

     The People's Nepal (77 Minutes) © MMX, 2010. This film is being licensed through ThePeoplesNepal.com

        Download The People's Nepal Screening Notice

In 2006, the Kingdom of Nepal became the Republic of Nepal, and the Shah family, which had ruled Nepal for 240 years, was deposed. Most of the world's media attention at that time was focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so Nepal received little attention. The April Uprising in 2006 involved over one million people, the largest civil protest movement Nepal had ever experienced. The People's Nepal is the story of a revolution and its causes. For centuries, Nepal has been part Hindu and part Buddhist. As is well known, the Buddha was openly and explicitly anti-caste, and not just once or twice, but in many sutras. This film shows the leader of the youth group from the Maoist party quoting directly from the Buddha to justify the party's actions. The Maoists were one of several political parties involved in the struggle to bring representative government to Nepal. The film includes original music, archival photography, and a voice-over narrative by Peter Coyote. 77 Minutes. Admission is free.


Friday January 10, 2014 7:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Ishvarakrishna and Patanjali - Yoga (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu - Buddhist Theories (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Sima Qian and Ban Zhao - History and Women (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Dong Zhongshu and Ge Hong - Eclecticism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules thirteen through sixteen in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Ishvarakrishna and Patanjali - Yoga
  • Nagarjuna and Vasubandhu - Buddhist Theories
  • Sima Qian and Ban Zhao - History and Women
  • Dong Zhongshu and Ge Hong - Eclecticism
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday December 13, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Secrets of Shangri-La: Quest for Sacred Caves (57 minutes) © 2010 National Geographic, and Cave People of the Himalaya (55 minutes) © 2012 National Geographic. These films are being licensed through Swank Motion Pictures. (www.swank.com).

          Download Secrets of Shangri-La screening notice.

Secrets of Shangri-La takes us into sacred Buddhist caves in the legendary kingdom of Mustang. A team of explorers and scientists climbs for the first time into human-carved caves thousands of years old. They find priceless 14th century wall paintings, ancient human remains and a centuries-old library of sacred Buddhist texts. Conflicts with the local villagers arise when the villagers realize that they may have lost forever an opportunity to loot the caves and sell the art at high prices on the international art market. Instead, it is destined to be preserved by the government of Nepal. 57 minutes.

Cave People of the Himalaya takes us on an expedition to ancient caves in upper Mustang, a part of Nepal so remote that there are not even any real roads up the valleys, and the expedition truck has to navigate along stream beds. Several of these caves are located high in the middle of friable sandstone cliffs, and the climb is very risky, even with expert rock climbers leading the way. One of the climbers suffers serious injuries and has to be evacuated by helicopter. However, the discoveries are intensely interesting to American archeologist Dr. Mark Aldenderfer. He may have located some of the earliest "sky-burials" in the Himalayas, either Buddhist or pre-Buddhist in origin. 55 minutes.


Friday November 18, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Marco Polo's Silk Road (90 minutes) © 2006 Monarex Hollywood Corp. This film is being screened courtesy of Monarex Hollywood Corp. (www.monarex.com).

        Download Marco Polo's Silk Road screening notice.

Marco Polo's Silk Road is a film about the tea road (otherwise known as the "southern silk road") which snakes through Yunnan Province into Tibet and India. This road has been traveled for over a thousand years, and is still in use. This film starts with a discussion of tea growing and harvesting and then follows a caravan of pack horses laden with tea as it travels through Yunnan province into Tibet. Isn't China modernizing with roads and railroads? In this particular setting because of the ruggedness of the mountains, the old silk road is still in use - with pack horses and cell-phone toting caravan leaders. Horses can go places where automobiles and trucks cannot go - provided that the horses can negotiate steep mountain gorges crossed by rickety bridges and cable-pulley systems. Tea is a standard drink in Zen temples, and this film provides a little bit of background on the historical transport of tea from India to China in ancient times, all driven by the profit motive and the abiding Chinese (and later Japanese) love of tea. Be forewarned: toward the end, the film touches on the Chinese/Tibetan conflict, and casts it in a decidedly pro-Chinese light. 90 Minutes. Admission is free.




Friday October 18, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Noh Dojoji (109 minutes) © 2011 Marty Gross Film Productions. This film is being licensed through Marty Gross Film Productions (www.martygrossfilms.com/).

        Download Noh Dojoji screening notice.

Noh Dojoji is a Noh drama based on an old legend. A mountain yamabushi (a Buddhist ascetic) occasionally visited the home of a poor farmer and his daughter. The farmer jokingly told his daughter that someday the yamabushi would become her husband. The girl innocently believed him, and when she came of age, asked the yamabushi to marry her. He turned her down, and when she became enraged, ran away from her, making his way to Dojoji temple. There, the monks lowered the huge temple bell and hid the yamabushi underneath the bell. The girl, in hot pursuit, found her way blocked by the Hidaka river in flood, without a boat to cross. So intense was her rage that she transformed into a river serpent of the fire-breathing variety, swam across the river, entered Dojoji temple and wrapped herself around the temple bell. She generated a heat so intense that the yamabushi roasted to death inside the bell!

The play itself begins many years later, at the time of a dedication ceremony for a new temple bell. This is a full-length 109 minute Noh drama, with English-language commentary on the action. It features the famous Noh actor Umewaka Rokuro, and is filmed at the Noh theatre at Nagoya Nohgakudo. Noh drama is poetry and music in slow-motion, and this should be borne in mind. Modern audiences acclimated to fast action may find the slow pace not to their liking. Noh Dojoji is classical Noh drama at its best. Admission is free.


Friday September 6, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     Mencius and Xunzi-Confucius's Successors (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Sunzi and Han Feizi-Strategy and Legalism (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Zarathustra and Mani-Dualistic Religion (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Kautilya and Ashoka-Buddhism and Empire (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules nine through twelve in the series: Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition.

  • Mencius and Xunzi-Confucius's Successors
  • Sunzi and Han Feizi-Strategy and Legalism
  • Zarathustra and Mani-Dualistic Religion
  • Kautilya and Ashoka-Buddhism and Empire
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday August 9, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Journey Into Buddhism: Dharma River (81 minutes) © 2007 Direct Pictures. This film is being licensed through Direct Pictures (www.Directpictures.com).

        Download Journey Into Buddhism: Dharma River screening notice.

Journey Into Buddhism: Dharma River is an exquisitely beautiful journey through Laos, Thailand and Burma, exploring the important themes and landscapes of Buddhism at the source. Moving down rivers, through villages, and to important Buddhist pilgrimage sights...the visuals and narration create a mood of timeless peace. Dharma River is part of the Yatra trilogy of sacred journeys into Buddhism by director and cinematographer John Bush. Yatra is the Sanskrit word for pilgrimage or spiritual journey. This is a meditative journey accompanied by music - classical Saung Gauk (Harp) of Burma; the Khene, the giant mouth organ of Laos, and the centuries old Pi Phat ensemble of Thailand which includes gongs, xylophones and cymbals, and harmonic chants from singer and composer David Hykes with The Harmonic Choir. En route, the journey locales include the Emerald Buddha, the Royal Temple, the Ananda Temple built in 1091, Chaing Mai, Karen people, Mekong River, Shangri-la of Luang Prabang, Swedagon Pagoda, mystical sites and ruins of ancient civilizations, and a myriad of iconic representations of the Buddha himself. John Bush undertakes the production of a travel documentary as if it were fine art. This is as good as this genre gets.


Friday July 12, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Preaching From Pictures: A Japanese Mandala (100 minutes) © 2006 Asian Educational Media Service. This film is being screened courtesy of the Asian Educational Media Service (www.aems.illinois.edu).

        Download Preaching From Pictures: A Japanese Mandala Screening Notice

Preaching From Pictures: A Japanese Mandala tells the story of the Kumano nuns, a Buddhist sect which traveled the Japanese countryside during the pre-modern era. They preached from a hanging scroll called the Mandala of the Ten Worlds. The Mandala depicts the ten realms of existence, and traces the path which human beings must take from birth through youth, middle age, old age and death. Heaven and hell are included in graphic format, along with buddhas, bodhisattvas, demons and devils. This film includes a 37 minute tour of the Mandala, a 4 minute sermon similar to what the Kumano nuns might have delivered and a virtual hour long academic symposium on the Mandala and its historical context. Preaching From Pictures is based on a film produced by the National Museum of Japanese History. The Freeman Foundation funded the production of this English-language DVD. This film is being screened at the First Zen Institute courtesy of the Asian Educational Media Service (www.aems.illinois.edu)


Friday June 7, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Doing Time, Doing Vipassana (52 minutes) © 1997 Vipassana Research Institute.
     Changing From Inside (45 minutes) © 1998 Vipassana Research Institute.
     Both films are licensed through Vipassana Research Institute (www.vridhamma.com).

          Download Doing Time, Doing Vipassana Screening Notice

Doing Time, Doing Vipassana takes the viewer into Tihar prison, a huge and notorious institution housing 10,000 inmates. This is India's largest prison, and is now a place where men doing hard time for serious crimes have started practicing meditation. They don't get a light dose of it, but a full ten day retreat conducted in total silence, with ten hours of meditation every day. The Vipassana meditational techniques are taught by a Theravadin Buddhist teacher, S.N. Goenka in the Burmese tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, but are quite similar to Zen. There is nothing easy about it, and no one expects fast miracle results, but some of the inmates are deeply affected by it. Changing From Inside takes the same meditational techniques employed in Tihar prison and applies them in a modern American prison. Both films briefly mention the historical Buddhist roots of this type of mediation, but the religious aspects of it are de-emphasized. These are expertly shot professional documentaries, and give real insights into the practical application of classical Buddhist meditation techniques. These films are being screened courtesy of the Vipassana Research Institute (www.vridhamma.org) and Pariyatti Digital Media (www.pariyatti.org).

For more information about Vipassana Meditation As Taught By S.N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, please visit the Vipassana Meditation website, www.dhamma.org. The films themselves are directly available through the Vipassana Research Institute website, www.vridhamma.org.


Friday May 17, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition:

     The Bhagavad Gita-The Way of Action (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Confucious-In Praise of Sage-Kings (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Laozi and Daoism-The Way of Nature (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     The Hundred Schools of Pre-Imperial China (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy taught by Professor Grant Hardy. This screening is going to present modules five through eight in the series:

  • The Bhagavad Gita-The Way of Action
  • Confucious-In Praise of Sage-Kings
  • Laozi and Daoism-The Way of Nature
  • The Hundred Schools of Pre-Imperial China
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Great Courses.


Friday April 12, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Ong-Bak The Thai Warrior (105 minutes) © 2007 Magnolia Pictures. Licensed through Swank Motion Pictures (www.swank.com).

        Download Ong-Bak The Thai Warrior Screening Notice

Buddhist antiquities sometimes sell for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on the international art market. Over the past century, it has happened not infrequently that art objects kept in not-very-secure places, such as remote village temples, have just disappeared. Ong-Bak The Thai Warrior, starts in the village of Ban Nong Pradu, a rural village in northeastern Thailand, where the head from a local Buddha statue is lopped off and vanishes. The Buddha statue's name is "Ong-Bak." However, the culprit is spotted by the villagers, and they send their best athelete - Ting, played by Tony Jaa - on a mission to Bangkok to retrieve the Buddha head. Ting has learned muay Thai (Thai kick-boxing) from one of the village monks, and finds himself in Bangkok up against a crime gang which steals Buddhist antiquities on a professional basis. This is an action film dealing with loss and redemption of cultural heritage. Spoken in Thai with English subtitles.


Friday March 8, 2013 7:30 PM.

     The Sage of Arunachala (65 minutes) and Ramana Maharshi: The Archival Films (65 Minutes), © 2003 Arunachala Ashrama. Screened courtesy of Arunachala Ashrama (www.arunachala.org).

        Download The Sage of Arunachala Screening Notice

The Sage of Arunachala is a chronology of photographs, film footage, interviews, narration and music - the culmination of two-year effort of film restoration, research and travel. Narrated by John Flynn with professional editing by James Hartel, it takes the viewer back to the childhood home of Venkataraman Iyer in Tiruchuli, Tamil Nadu, and discusses his experience of Self Realization, his journey to Arunachaleswara temple, his taking the vows of a sadhu and assumption of a life of austerity, his life in the caves on Arunachala hill, and his eventual prominence as perhaps the most widely respected Indian sage of the twentieth century. Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi: The Archival Films: This is a collection of ten short films taken mostly by disciples of Ramana Maharshi. Most are silent, in black and white or color. Included are two short Indian newsreels with narration. These films are being screened courtesy of Arunachala Ashrama (www.arunachala.org).


Friday February 15, 2013 7:30 PM. Originally scheduled for Friday, February 8, this film has been rescheduled to Friday, February 15 due to severe weather conditions.

     Kundun (134 Minutes), © 1998 Walt Disney Studios / Mill Creek. Licensed through Swank Motion Pictures (www.swank.com).

        Download Kundun Screening Notice

Kundun is a motion picture masterpiece directed by 5-time Academy Award nominee Martin Scorsese. It chronicles the life of the 14th Dalai Lama from the moment of his recognition as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama in 1937 up until his exile from Tibet. The film's tone of serenity and reverence is upheld through meticulous attention to details of costume and color, and the use of actual Buddhist monks in scenes from the Dalai Lama's palace. When first released, the film caused an international uproar. The actor Kim Chan (who starred in A Zen Tale - shot on site at the First Zen Institute) plays the role of a Chinese General in Kundun.


Friday January 11, 2013 7:30 PM.

     Life's Great Questions-Asian Perspectives (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     The Vedas and Upanishads-The Beginning (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Mahavira and Jainism-Extreme Non-Violence (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     The Buddha-The Middle Way (30 Minutes), © 2011 The Teaching Company
     Screened courtesy of The Great Courses (www.thegreatcourses.com).

        Download Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition Screening Notice

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a 36-lecture series on Eastern Philosophy. This screening is going to present the first four modules in the series:

  • Life's Great Questions-Asian Perspectives
  • The Vedas and Upanishads-The Beginning
  • Mahavira and Jainism-Extreme Non-Violence
  • The Buddha-The Middle Way
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has written, co-written, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History and The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China. These films are being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company.


Friday November 9, 2012 7:30 PM.

     A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki (77 Minutes) © 2008, Marty Gross Film Productions, Inc. and
     Cold Mountain (28 Minutes) © 2010, The Center for International Education

              Download D.T. Suzuki and Cold Mountain Screening Notice

A Zen Life is a biographical documentary of Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966) – a man who bore great responsibility for bringing Zen Buddhism to the West during the early decades of the 20th century. This film features still shots taken from various stages in D.T. Suzuki’s life, a lively voice-over commentary, rare footage of D.T. Suzuki himself and interviews with many people who knew D.T. Suzuki personally, including Mickey Stunkard, Frederick Frank, Huston Smith and Gary Snyder. 77 minutes.

Cold Mountain is a documentary about the Chinese Zen eccentric T'ang dynasty poet Han Shan "Cold Mountain" who lived on the mountain from which he took his name. Han Shan spent his time wandering through the mountains writing poems on trees. He would often show up at the kitchen door to the temple in Kuo-ch'ing, where his friend Shi-te worked as a cook. We have little more than a bare outline of the details of Han Shan's life. However, his eloquent poetry still resonates with modern readers. Four modern Zen poets and writers provide much of the commentary for this documentary: Gary Snyder, Red Pine, Burton Watson and Jim Lenfestey. 28 minutes.


Friday October 5, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Kwaidan (125 Minutes) © 2000 Criterion Collection

        Download Kwaidan Screening Notice

Kwaidan consists of four ghost stories adapted from the fiction of Greek-born Lafcadio Hearn (a.k.a. Yakumo Koizumi, 1850-1904), who based them on old Japanese folk tales. According to legend, Hoichi the Earless is a blind minstrel with amazing gifts for the Japanese lute. He is particularly good at performing the Tale of the Heike, an epic describing the fall of Emperor Antoku, who is buried at Amidaji Temple - the very temple where Hoichi is living. His performances are so wonderful that even the ghosts hearing them are moved to tears. The ghosts like his singing so much that they want to drag him away to the next world, but he is protected after his body is painted with the characters of the Prajnaparamita sutra - all parts of his body, that is, except his ears. Three additional ghost stories comprise the remainder of Kwaidan. All four stories start out as normal tales, and it is only gradually, by degrees, that ghostly horrors come into play - an ideal film for the Halloween season. Spoken in Japanese with English subtitles.


Friday September 7, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Zen Noir (71 Minutes) © 2004, 2006 Magic Lamp Releasing/Zenmovie LLC and
     A Zen Tale (10 Minutes) © 2001, Magdalena Solé

              Download Zen Noir and A Zen Tale Screening Notice

Zen Noir is a surreal film in which a Mike Hammer-type left-brain police detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, enters the intuitive world of Zen in an effort to investigate a mysterious death. Zen Noir is part murder mystery, part comedy, part Buddhist philosophy and part love story. This unusual film stars Kim Chan in the role of the Zen master. Zen Noir starts out as an investigation of one specific death and gradually turns into an investigation into the nature of death itself. It contains some adult content, and is for mature audiences. Running time: 71 minutes. Zen Noir is being screened courtesy of Magic Lamp Releasing/Zenmovie LLC.

A Zen Tale is a comedy based on the classic Zen story about a monk who requests shelter for the night at a Zen temple, and must undergo "dharma-combat" with a one-eyed novice. A Zen Tale, was the master's degree project of then-Columbia Film student Magdalena Solé, and was filmed right here on site at the First Zen Institute. All three roles in this film are played by Kim Chan. .


Friday August 10, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Warriors of Heaven and Earth (120 Minutes) © 2004, 2007 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

        Download Warriors of Heaven and Earth Screening Notice

Warriors of Heaven and Earth is set in the western deserts of China during the Tang Dynasty. The "Warriors" are a group of contract soldiers who guard caravans traversing the old silk road. One of them is the target of the Chinese emperor's wrath because of his refusal to obey explicit orders to massacre civilians (owing to which he lost his commission as an officer in the imperial service, and is now guarding caravans). The emperor sends a Japanese assassin to murder him, but the two of them join forces to defend the caravan - putting off their final duel until later. On this particular occasion, the caravan consists of a large group of Buddhist monks along with relics of the Buddha which they are transporting from India to China. The relics of the Buddha have real power (somewhat like the power of the Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark). One of the local warlords wants to seize the relics because of their power. Most of the action takes place outside of the borders of the Tang empire - a place inhabited by bandits and nomads where ordinary laws don't apply. Spoken in Chinese with English subtitles.


Friday July 13, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Beyond Rangoon (100 Minutes) © 1995, 2009 Warner Home Video

        Download Beyond Rangoon Screening Notice

Beyond Rangoon features Patricia Arquette in the role of an American physician, Laura, who is traveling on vacation in Burma when she unexpectedly gets caught up in the 1988 uprising of Buddhist monks against the military government. Based on real-life events, the film features a confrontation between Aung San Suu Kyi, (played by Adele Lutz) who bravely calls for freedom in the midst of the soldiers who have been sent to stop her. During the historical 1988 uprising, the government ordered soldiers to open fire on unarmed demonstrators, killing thousands of them. In the film, Laura travels "Beyond Rangoon" to visit the Burmese countryside, ordinarily off-limits to tourists. As the rebellion is suppressed, she is directly exposed to the Burmese military dictatorship at its worst, and her professional skills come into play as a life-saving physician.


Friday June 8, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Journey into Buddhism: Vajra Sky Over Tibet (89 Minutes) © 2007 Direct Pictures

        Download Vajra Sky Over Tibet Screening Notice

        Download A Special Message for Vajra Sky Over Tibet, from the Dalai Lama.

Journey Into Buddhism: Vajra Sky Over Tibet. "When the Iron Bird flies, the dharma will go to the West, says a 1,500-year-old Tibetan Buddhist prophecy, one that seems to have been amply fulfilled in 1959, when Mao's Communist forces overwhelmed Tibet, killed a million or so Tibetans, and forced the 14th Dalai Lama into his still-continuing Western exile. In the near half-century since, there has been a deliberate long-term undermining of Tibet's ancient Buddhist culture crudely violent in the Great Helmsman's time, more subtle and insidious since. Deep physical and spiritual scars remain on this tiny, beleaguered nation. Longtime Buddhist filmmaker John Bush took a two-person crew into the country without official permission, they avoided interviews for fear of reprisals and filmed, often surreptitiously, the great religious sites as they exist now, after decades of oppression from Beijing. He finds a resilient, welcoming people who continue to practice their religion (now officially tolerated ) despite the infiltration of Chinese agents into their monasteries, the razing of many sites to facilitate surveillance, and the kidnapping of the family of the 9-year-old Pandau Lama (whose future duty is to choose the next Dalai Lama) and his replacement by a 6-year-old Beijing-backed stooge. Filmed only with direct light and sound, Bush's stunning camerawork adroitly captures the majestic landscapes and icons of Buddhism: its murals and artworks, monks and nuns. Not incidentally, the film also offers a compact primer in the ways of dharma. A tonic for Buddhists, no doubt, it offers many pleasures to atheists as well." --John Patterson, Village Voice.


Friday May 18, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Kingdom of War, Part II (150 Minutes) © 2011 Magnolia Home Entertainment

        Download Kingdom of War, Part II Screening Notice

Kingdom of War, Part II continues the life story of Naresuan the Great, the Thai King of Ayutthaya from 1590 until 1605. In Part II, Naresuan is no longer a young Buddhist novice, but a mature man capable of leading an army. Naresuan is played by Wanchana Sawatdee, a cavalry officer in the Royal Thai Army with the rank of captain. In this film -- set several years after Part I -- the powerful Burmese king has died, and is succeeded by his incompetant son, leading to the gradual crumbling and fragmentation of his empire. The captive Thais living in the Burmese capital rally under Naresuan, and leave -- with the Burmese army in pursuit. The Thais hastily assemble a group of their own fighters to fend off the Burmese. The wise Buddhist monk who played a prominent role in Part I of this series, also appears in this film, along with Naresuan's close friends, now grown up. This film features the same beautiful costumes, impressive sets and expert camera-work found in Part I, and the the two films work well together to tell a complete story. Spoken in Thai with English subtitles.


Friday April 13, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Kingdom of War, Part I (160 Minutes) © 2011 Magnolia Home Entertainment

        Download Kingdom of War, Part I Screening Notice

Kingdom of War, Part I is a dramatic re-telling, on a grand-scale, of the story of Naresuan the Great, the Thai King of Ayutthaya from 1590 until 1605. In 1563, the Burmese king of Hanthawaddy (lower Burma) led a massive army against the Thais, defeating Naresuan’s father, King Maha Thammarachathirat. Taken hostage as a young boy, Naresuan was forced to live at the Burmese capital, where he became a Buddhist novice, and was tutored in everything – including the arts of war – by a wise Buddhist monk. As prince of the former kingdom of Ayutthaya, he became the natural head of the community of captive Thais living in the Burmese capital. Kingdom of War part I is the story of his coming of age. In Kingdom of War part II (to be screened at the First Zen Institute in May), Naresuan leads the Thais in rebellion against the Burmese. The two films are an impressive production with lush scenery, intense fighting scenes, historically accurate weaponry and beautiful costumes, palaces and temples – and enough real Buddhist content to make them worth including in our film series. The one drawback to the films is that the court intrigue and shifting alliances are difficult to follow for someone unfamiliar with the historical events portrayed here. Spoken in Thai with English subtitles.


Friday March 9, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Blindsight (104 Minutes) © 2006 Image Entertainment

        Download Blindsight Screening Notice

Blindsight is a documentary about a group of blind Tibetan teenagers who scale Lhakpa-Ri, a peak right next to Mt. Everest. Their guides are Erik Weihenmayer, a blind American who has scaled all the world's seven highest peaks, and Sabirye Tenberken, a blind German-born woman who founded Lhasa's Braille without Boarders to provide blind Tibetans with an education. Blindness is a great challenge under any circumstances, but these Tibetan teenagers have to contend with a bizarre form of Buddhist discrimination - they are blind because they committed sins in past lifetimes (or possibly because of the influence of demons), and are relegated to the lowest rungs of the Tibetan social order. They suffer enormous hardships and heartbreaking humiliation on a daily basis. As the adventurous band work their way up the valleys between the Himalayan peaks, they enter the last outpost of human civilization, a Buddhist monastery situated right in the shadow of Mt. Everest, where one of the younger monks is moved to tears over their plight. Blindsight is an inspiring film for everyone.


Friday February 10, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Ghost Dog (116 Minutes) © 2001 LionsGate

        Download Ghost Dog Screening Notice

Ghost Dog Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an unusual modern urban film with frequent references to Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s Hagakure, “In the Shadow of Leaves,” a Japanese text on the Samurai code of honor published in 1716. The Hagakure expounds the code of Bushido – the “Way of the Warrior” in a series of short anecdotes and reflections. The ancient text is loosely a “Zen” piece of writing complete with occasional references to the Prajnaparamita Sutra. However it definitely comes from the martial arts side of the Zen world. Forest Whitaker plays the role of a professional hit man living by the Samurai code of honor. The hit man, “Ghost Dog,” apparently of Haitian extraction, appears to be living in Newark, New Jersey in an unusual rooftop space where he keeps carrier pigeons – his main form of communication with the gangland boss who he serves. In the end, he squares off against an entire Mafia family, which has its own code of honor. This is an interesting film with unusual cross-cultural references. Forest Whitaker’s performance as a modern urban Samurai is fully convincing.


Friday January 6, 2012 7:30 PM.

     Blue Collar and Buddha (57 Minutes) © 2008 Collective Eye, Inc.

        Download Blue Collar and Buddha Screening Notice

Blue Collar and Buddha is an award-winning documentary about refugees from Laos who settled in the Midwestern United States following the Vietnam war. The factory town which they have made their new home does not take kindly to the recent arrivals, and their new Buddhist temple is bombed on several occasions. The film investigates the opinions of townspeople, Vietnam veterans, local officials and Christian ministers. This dramatic and moving documentary discusses the Laotians' struggle to succeed as Americans while maintaining their ancient religious traditions.


Friday December 2, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Master of Zen (95 Minutes) © 2001 World Video

        Download Master of Zen Screening Notice

Master of Zen presents the legend of Bodhidharma. The historical Bodhidharma is credited with bringing Zen Buddhism and kung-fu to China from India. This film contains all of the elements of the Bodhidharma myth - his growing up as a prince in India, his journey to China, his meeting with the Chinese Emperor, and his famous disciple Huike - who cuts off his own arm in order to receive Bodhidharma's teaching. Bodhidharma's "nine years facing the wall" is presented as literally nine years of continual meditation, without stopping for even one minute to eat or drink. He is in possession of the "Chi" energy - and this accounts for his amazing mysterious powers. This film is partially fanciful, and partially a glorified Hong Kong kung-fu movie. Needless to say, Bodhidharma always says wise things and has powerful kung-fu skills. This film is not meant to be historically accurate and does not give us the real Zen teachings of Bodhidharma. It is nevertheless an entertaining presentation of the Bodhidharma legend. Spoken in Chinese with English subtitles.


Friday November 11, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Samsara (138 Minutes) © 2001 Pandora Film Productions GmbH

        Download Samsara Screening Notice

This is the story of a young monk brought up in a monastery from early childhood who completes an arduous three-year meditation and is promoted to the rank of teacher. Not being free from the realm of desire he falls in love with a local village girl, abandons his position as a monk and gets married. What happens after that is horrendous - all of his years of meditational discipline and austerity appear to help him very little in the real world of ordinary life. The historical Buddha abandoned his wife and set off in search of enlightenment, but this film explores the other side of that separation. It asks penetrating questions about what sort of responsibilities the former monk has toward his beautiful young wife and toward their son. Shot in the Himalayan foothills near Ladakh, India, this film was released in more than sixty countries, and won more than thirty international awards. It is short on dialogue and long on emotional intensity. It is an eloquent discussion of sex and spirituality, and the dramatic conflicts which can develop between secular and religious life. Spoken in Tibetan with English subtitles.


Friday October 14, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Milarepa (90 Minutes) © 2008 Cinequest, Inc.
     Teachings on Milarepa (30 Minutes, excerpts) © 2008 Cinequest, Inc.

           Download Milarepa Screening Notice

The historical Milarepa was a great sinner and also a great saint. This film deals with the first part of his career, when, according to Buddhist legend, he was cheated out of his inheritance and turned to sorcery to destroy his enemies. Set in 11th century Tibet, Milarepa's life of privilege is overturned by his greedy uncle and aunt, and out of his despair, humiliation, pain and anger, he embarks upon a quest for vengeance. Buddhist Lama Neten Chokling - the film's director - shows us the first half of Milarepa's life, when he meets with magicians, sorcerers and demons and learns black magic. A sequel is planned to deal with his later repentance, conversion to Buddhism and meeting with the Buddhist saint Marpa the Translator. We've selected Milarepa for screening at this time of year since it's a good film to show around Halloween. Teachings on Milarepa is a companion film in which His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje, Khandro Rinpoche and Ani Pema Chodron give commentaries and insights about the importance of Milarepa in Tibetan life and culture.

Milarepa and Teachings On Milarepa are being screened courtesy of Cinequest, Inc.


Friday September 9, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Antony Tudor (60 Minutes) © 2008 The Princeton Book Company
     Antony Tudor Centennial (Excerpts) © 2008 Antony Tudor Ballet Trust
     Jardin Aux Lilacs (American Ballet Theater in San Francisco) (10 Minutes) © 2005 Kultur

              Download Antony Tudor Screening Notice

Antony Tudor was President of the First Zen Institute of America from 1964 until his death in 1987. Tudor was also head of the ballet section at the Juilliard School at the same time that Martha Graham was head of Juilliard's modern dance section. Although less well known than Martha Graham, He was considered one of the greatest choreographers of the 20th century, having choreographed more than 40 ballets, of which half a dozen were considered absolute masterpieces. We will screen excerpts from Undertow, Little Improvisations, Continuo and Judgment of Paris, done at the studios of the Juilliard School, as well as a complete performance of Jardin Aux Lilas by the American Ballet Theater. Also included is an extended sequence of interviews with dancers who worked with Tudor interspersed with brief sequences from Tudor Classics such as Pillar of Fire, Dark Elegies and Kinderscenen.

Antony Tudor is being screened courtesy of Princeton Book Company (www.PrincetonBookCompany.com)
Antony Tudor Centennial is being screened courtesy of the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust (http://www.antonytudor.org)
Jardin Aux Lilas (American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco) is being screened courtesy of Kultur (www.kultur.com)


Friday August 12, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Cry of the Snow Lion (104 Minutes) © 2004 New Yorker Films

           Download Cry of the Snow Lion Screening Notice

Tibet Cry of the Snow Lion is an award-winning documentary ten years in the making, filmed during nine journeys throughout Tibet, India and Nepal. It gives a picture of life in Tibet before and after the Chinese occupation. Traditional Tibetan culture is represented in rarely seen rituals, horse races and nomadic Yak caravans set against a background of magnificent Himalayan peaks. The dark secrets of Tibet's recent past are chronicled through riveting personal stories and interviews of Tibetans in exile, with a rich collection of archival and undercover images. 6,200 of Tibet's monasteries were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, when Chinese artillery units used monastery buildings for target practice. Widespread starvation was a consequence of Mao's decision to force Tibetans to grow wheat instead of barley. Today, the Tibetans are outnumbered in their capital city, which has brothels to service the occupation army. The film mentions that Apartheid fell apart in South Africa, and the Berlin Wall fell unexpectedly. Can the same happen in Tibet, against all odds? Tibet Cry of the Snow Lion is an epic story of courage and compassion. 104 minutes.


Friday July 8, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Naked in Ashes (103 Minutes) © 2005 Paradise Filmworks

           Download Naked in Ashes Screening Notice

The 13 million yogis of India are a highly unusual group of individuals. In the classic stories of the Buddha's life, prior to his enlightenment he spent many years with a group of sadhus practicing various austerities. This film gives intimate portrayals of a small handful of these holy men. Their austerities include living naked but for a loin cloth and a covering of ashes when other members of society are dressed in winter clothing. Or keeping one arm raised straight up continuously for more than a decade, or walking barefoot through the snows in the Himalayas, or practicing meditation in the center of a circle of burning fires, or standing up continuously, without even once sitting or lying down, for years on end. Some of these sadhus became religious ascetics as young orphans, and others have crippling deformities. All are intensely devoted to their spiritual practices. The film includes shots from the 2001 Kumbh Mehla. Naked in Ashes is being screened courtesy of Paradise Filmworks International, www.ParadiseFilmworks.com; The film is unrated, but includes explicit male nudity.


Friday June 10, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Ajanta: The History and the Mystery (56 Minutes) © 2010 Kultur
     Carving Monasteries at Ajanta in India (30 Minutes) © 2009 The Teaching Company

              Download The Ajanta Caves Screening Notice

In 1819, some British officers were hunting a tiger in the Indian jungle. The tiger disappeared into a ravine, and when they followed it, they discovered an amazing complex of rock-cut caves. The Buddhist Caves of Ajanta, India were built between 200 B.C. and 600 A.D. The caves and their sculptures were developed over a period of 800 years, but then abandoned and forgotten. Isolation of these caves for several hundred years accounts for the excellent preservation of their paintings and sculpture. Originally homes for Buddhist monks, the caves were part of a highly sophisticated, graphically rich culture. Ajanta is a three-dimensional canvas, capturing the changing forms of art, culture, architecture, attires, jewelry, fashion and culinary rituals, all painted in vibrant colors. The Ajanta caves are listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Ajanta: The History and the Mystery is being screened courtesy of KULTUR, www.kultur.com. Carving Monasteries at Ajanta in India is being screened courtesy of The Teaching Company, www.teach12.com.


Friday May 13, 2011 7:30 PM.

     The Burmese Harp (116 Minutes) © 1956, 2007 The Criterion Collection

           Download The Burmese Harp Screening Notice

Based on a novel by Michio Takeyama, The Burmese Harp is set during the final days of World War II. The Japanese are fighting a desperate campaign against superior British forces in the Burmese jungle. Private Mizushima, previously untrained in music, has taught himself to play the Burmese harp. His company commander was a music teacher in civilian life, and has taught his soldiers to sing as a way to boost morale. Mizushima accompanies them on the harp, and also acts as a scout - dressed as an ordinary Burmese, and speaking the Burmese language, he travels ahead of the company and plays a tune for "all clear" on his harp if it is safe for them to pass. In the end, almost all of the Japanese either die or surrender to the British, but not Mizushima. Badly wounded and wrapped in bandages, he finds himself being cared for by a Buddhist monk, who tells him: "Foreign armies come and foreign armies go, but Burma is Buddha's country." Mizushima emerges from the war as a Buddhist monk. The Burmese Harp has been described as "One of Japanese cinema's most overwhelming antiwar statements, both tender and brutal in its grappling with Japan's wartime legacy." In black and white. Spoken in Japanese and Burmese with English subtitles.


Friday April 8, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Buddha's Lost Children (97 Minutes) © 2009 EMS Films

           Download Buddha's Lost Children Screening Notice

Luong Por Khru Bah is a Thai boxer turned Buddhist monk who runs the Golden Horse monastery, located in the golden triangle - the opium growing region near the borders of Thailand, Burma and China. Buddha's Lost Children shows what a monk living in the tradition of the Theravadin forest ascetics can do in service to the hill tribe villagers and children of this area. Some of these rural children are orphans, their parents victims of poverty, drug addiction and tuberculosis. The Golden Horse monastery is part orphanage, part school and part clinic. Loung Por Khru Bah is a father figure to many of the children at the orphanage, and is assisted by Khun Mae Ead, a Buddhist nun. The children range in age from pre-school up to their teens. At the Golden Horse monastery, they learn to read and write, basic hygiene skills, cooking, Thai boxing and animal husbandry. Each child is given his own horse to take care of - a major responsibility. The film features stunning cinematography and fascinating subjects. Spoken in Thai with English subtitles.

April 8 is the traditional Buddha's Birthday celebration, and we will be celebrating with a brief ceremony and cake starting at 7:30 PM. The film will start at approximately 7:50 P.M. The First Zen Institute will solicit donations to help support the Golden Horse monastery and orphanage.


Friday March 11, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Travelers and Magicians (108 Minutes) © 2005 Zeitgeist Films

           Download Travelers and Magicians Screening Notice

Travelers and MagiciansTravelers and Magicians is the story of Dondup, a young Bhutanese government official who feels trapped in his small mountain village. He learns from a friend that he can earn ten times as much money by picking fruit in America as he can in a responsible government job in Bhutan. Setting out on his journey to get an American visa, he misses his bus and starts hitch-hiking. He falls in with a Buddhist monk, an apple seller, an old man and his beautiful daughter. The pace of the journey is slow, leisurely, much like life in Bhutan itself. The Buddhist monk starts telling a story and within the story there is an extended dream sequence involving lust and murder. The story and the dream sequence are laden with metaphor which ultimately relate to Dondup himself and his aspirations. The director, Khyentse Norbu is a high Lama in the Tibetan tradition, and a native of Bhutan. Like his earlier film, The Cup, Travelers and Magicians deals with the sharp conflicts between modern and traditional cultures, but remains a fun, light-hearted film. Spoken in Dzonghka with English subtitles.


Friday February 11, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Sanshiro Sugata I (79 Minutes) © 1945, 2010 The Criterion Collection
     Sanshiro Sugata II (82 Minutes) © 1945, 2010 The Criterion Collection

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Sanshiro Sugata I – Jujitsu and judo – alternative forms of the Japanese martial arts – came into conflict in the 1880s in Japan, when judo started to replace jujitsu. The national police force held a contest to determine the superiority of one form of fighting over the other. Judo prevailed, and the Japanese police thereafter trained in judo instead of jujitsu. The Sanshiro Sugata films are set in the late 1800s. Sanshiro Sugata is a rickshaw driver who learns judo, and goes on to become one of the foremost judo masters in the nation. His life becomes complicated when he unintentionally kills one of his opponents in a judo match. Spoken in Japanese with English sub-titles. 79 minutes.

Sanshiro Sugata II – The plot line for part II is based on a blood feud stemming from the killing which took place in Sanshiro Sugata I. The Karate master who seeks revenge vows to fight to the death. This 1943 film was partly a Japanese war propaganda film, and in it Sanshiro Sugata fights with an American sailor and an American boxing champion. The Americans are portrayed as shallow, venial, stupidly aggressive and beatable. In general, Kurosawa de-emphasizes combat and violence, and instead focuses on the spiritual and contemplative side of the martial arts. Sanshiro Sugata is unfailingly sensitive and honorable and has expert fighting abilities. Shortly before his match with the Karate master, he approaches a Zen Buddhist priest for advice on how to proceed. The priest and he do zazen through the night, after which he goes out to face his most ferocious opponent. The final duel is brilliantly shot – dark, gripping and intense. Spoken in Japanese with English sub-titles. 82 minutes.


Friday January 7, 2011 7:30 PM.

     Buddhism: The Origins of Japanese Buddhism (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Buddhism: Honen, Shinran and Nichiren (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Buddhism: Zen (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Buddhism: Buddhism in America (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company

           Download The Great Courses: Buddhism Screening Notice

The Origins of Japanese Buddhism - Buddhism was first introduced into Japan from Korea in the year 535, and the Japanese adapted Chinese Confucianism and Buddhism to their own culture. Shinto, Japan's indigenous religions tradition, had a rival set of deities and initially opposed the practice of Buddhism. The Nara Period (710-784) saw the first appearance of Buddhism as a de-facto Japanese state religion. 30 minutes.

Honen, Shinran and Nichiren - The Kamakura period in Japan (1192-1333), was particularly bloody, and the country was torn by warring clans striving for power. The Pure Land school of Honen and Shinran responded to this crisis with their doctrine of faith in Amida Buddha. Nichiren was a Buddhist prophet who believed in salvation based on faith in the Lotus Sutra, and whose sect survives to this day as the movement known as Soka Gakkai. 30 minutes.

Zen - Zen also grew out of the religious atmosphere of the Kamakura period, and was a direct product of the Chinese tradition of Ch'an. Eisai (1141-1215) and Dogen (1200-1253), the founders of the Rinzai and Soto Zen schools were important figures in the early history of Zen. Over the centuries, Zen has had a large influence on Japanese arts and martial arts. 30 minutes.

Buddhism in America - The first European and American contacts with Buddhism in the 19th century included the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Theosophists Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, and the World Parliament of Religions in 1893. More recent Buddhist teachers in America include Shunryu Suzuki, Yasutani Roshi, Chogyam Trungpa, and Geshe Wangyal. Buddhism has had a significant influence on American popular culture. 30 minutes.


Friday December 3, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Buddha on the Silk Road (51 Minutes) © 2010 Magic Play Entertainment
     Lost Treasures of Tibet (56 Minutes) a NOVA film © 2003, 2007 WGBH Educational Foundation

           Download Buddha on the Silk Road Screening Notice

Buddha on the Silk Road - is a documentary about art along the old silk road, and particular about the ancient city of Dunhuang, formerly the western gate to the Chinese empire. Dunhuang is an oasis desert town, where even today caravans of camels set out to traverse the vast expanse of the Taklamakan desert. Dunhuang was the departure point for the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuan Zang during his 6th century journey to India. It was in Dunhuang, in 1907, where a sealed cave was discovered containing priceless manuscripts dating from the Tang dynasty. To the southeast of Dunhuang are the Magao caves "The caves of the Thousand Buddhas," and the location of the beautiful fresco paintings of the "Michaenangelo of the Silk Road." Buddha on the Silk Road is being screened courtesy of MagicPlay Entertainment. 51 minutes.

Lost Treasures of Tibet - is a NOVA documentary about the process of restoring 13th - 15th century Tibetan frescos in Buddhist temples in the kingdom of Mustang, in present day Nepal. Some of the art restoration professionals who worked on the Sistine Chapel are brought in to repair and restore dazzling art objects damaged by the elements and by centuries of neglect. 56 minutes.


Friday November 12, 2010 7:30 PM.

     The Sun Behind the Clouds (79 Minutes) © 2010 Zeitgeist Video

           Download The Sun Behind The Clouds Screening Notice

The Sun Behind the Clouds - Tibet's Struggle for Freedom is a documentary about the Dalai Lama’s ceaseless struggle for justice and recognition for the Tibetan people. It focuses on the pivotal and tumultuous events of 2008, highlighting the Buddhist monks’ protests in Lhasa on the 50th anniversary of the Chinese invasion, just as China was preparing for the 2008 summer Olympics. It presents the four-month, 2,500 kilometer march of exiled Tibetans through India to the Tibetan boarder. Also included are discussions between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government. The film uncovers a growing rift between the Dalai Lama – who advocates political autonomy for Tibet within China – and the younger generation of Tibetans some of whom advocate a more confrontational approach and full independence. It almost looks as if the Dalai Lama is losing his ability to keep the more radical members of the free-Tibet movement in check. “…an eye-opening, provocative, vital and well-balanced examination of Tibet's multifaceted, ongoing struggle for independence.”


Friday October 1, 2010 7:30 PM.

     The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (60 Minutes) © 1945, 2010 The Criterion Collection
     Bodhidharma's Shoe (27 Minutes) © 2008 Davenport Films

           Download The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail Screening Notice

The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail is an early (1945) Kurosawa classic depicting what appear to be six Buddhist monks on a pilgrimage to solicit alms for construction of the Great Buddha of Nara. In reality, they are samurai disguised as monks, and their mission is to deliver Minomoto Yoshitsune across a border guarded by hostile forces working for his brother, the Shogun Minomoto Yoritomo. It is based on the well known kabuki play Kanjincho, which is in turn based on the Noh play Ataka, written in 1465, during the Muromachi Era by playwright Kanze Nobumitsu. This film was censored by Japanese authorities during World War II, and also by the occupying American forces after the war. Starring Denjiro Okochi and Susumu Fujita, it runs for 60 minutes. Spoken in Japanese with English subtitles.

Bodhidharma’s Shoe is a film about a seven-day intensive Sesshin with Joshi Sasaki Roshi at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Videos of the retreat are interspersed with watercolor drawings of traditional Japanese monastic life painted by Giei Sato in the 1940s, and taken from the book “Unsui: A Diary of Zen Monastic Life,” (University of Hawaii Press.). The drawings depict life at Tofukuji monastery, and are Giei Sato’s recollections of his life as an Unsui – a novice monk. Tom Davenport is an independent film producer and distributor and has studied Zen with Joshu Sasaki Roshi since 1976. This film is being screened at the First Zen Institute courtesy of Davenport Films (www.davenportfilms.com). 27 minutes.


Friday September 10, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Rikyu (116 Minutes) © 2000 Slingshot Entertainment

           Download Rikyu Screening Notice

Rikyu tells the story of Sen-no Rikyu, a Buddhist priest and master of the Tea Ceremony. Rikyu lived during the 16th century, a turbulent, bloody period of Japanese history. Rikyu had been a trusted retainer under both Oda Nobunaga and Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Under Hideyoshi's patronage, Rikyu made significant changes to the aesthetics of the tea ceremony – changes which had a lasting influence over many aspects of Japanese culture. In the movie, Rikyu – in keeping with the tradition of absolute blunt honesty in the tea room – tells Hideyoshi Toyotomi that he disapproves of his plans to invade Korea and Ming China. Rikyu pays for his honesty with his life.


Friday August 6, 2010 7:30 PM.

     The Schools of Tibetan Buddhism (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     The Dalai Lama (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     The Origins of Chinese Buddhism (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     The Classical Period of Chinese Buddhism (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company

           Download The Great Courses: Buddhism Screening Notice

These films are the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th lectures in the Teaching Company series "Buddhism," featuring Professor Malcolm David Eckel of Boston University. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, which is Boston University’s highest award for teaching. He holds a PhD. in Comparative Religion from Harvard.

The Schools of Tibetan Buddhism discusses the Nyingma school and the saint Jigme Lingpa, the Kagyu school and its principal teachers Marpa and Milarpa, the Sakya school and its founders Drogmi and Kongchog, and the Gelugpa school of Tsongkhapa. The Dalai Lama focuses principally on the fourteenth Dalai Lama, his leadership of the Tibetan people while in exile, his Nobel Peace Prize, his discovery via the Tulku system, and the history of his formal position and the men who have occupied it since the fourteenth century. The Origins of Chinese Buddhism traces the history of Buddhism from the second century of the common era, when Buddhist monks first appeared in the capital of Han China. The Taoist tradition is discussed in detail, along with its principal text, the Tao Te Ching, and similarities between the Taoist and Buddhist traditions. The Classical Period of Chinese Buddhism presents Buddhism under the T'ang dynasty; the Hua-Yen ("Flower Garland") school, the T'ien-T'ai ("Heavenly Terrace") school, and the Ch'an ("Meditation") school.


Friday July 9, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Journey into Buddhism - Prana Earth (85 Minutes), © 2005, 2006 Direct Pictures.
     Mysteries of Asia - Jewels in the Jungle (50 Minutes), © 2000 The Learning Channel.

                 Prajna Earth and Mysteries of Asia Screening Notice

Journey into Buddhism: Prana Earth is a documentary film on "Yatra" - sacred pilgrimage. Made for Public Television, it visits sites in Southeast Asia where the Buddhist and Hindu traditions have intermingled over the centuries - most notably Angkor Wat. It shows us the current state of Cambodian Buddhism, with old and young monks, but no middle generation, most of whom were lost to the genocidal policies of the Khmer Rouge. The film also takes us to Borodpur - another massive Buddhist temple in Java, Indonesia, and then on to Bali. Journey into Buddhism: Prana Earth was directed by John Bush, narrated by Sharon Stone, and runs for 85 minutes.

Mysteries of Asia - Jewels in the Jungle presents a very good overview of the art and architecture of Angkor Wat, its role Cambodian history, and it's transformation from a Hindu to a Buddhist temple. Originally a temple to Vishnu, Angkor Wat was built by Cambodian King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. It is decorated with a wide variety of carvings, many of them depicting scenes from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana, but it currently functions as a Buddhist temple. Mysteries of Asia - Jewels in the Jungle also discusses the destruction of Cambodian culture under the Khmer Rouge. The film was made for The Learning Channel in 2000, is narrated by Michael Bell and runs for 50 minutes.




Friday June 18, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Seven Years in Tibet (136 Minutes), © 1997 Mandalay Entertainment.

           Download Seven Years in Tibet Screening Notice

Seven Years in Tibet tells the story of Heinreich Herrer, an Austrian mountain climber who attempts to scale the treacherous peak of Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas when World War II breaks out. As an enemy national, he ends up in a British POW camp in India. Escaping from prison, he and a fellow Austrian mountain climber make it across the Himalayas to Tibet. Tibet in the 1930s was one of only three Asian nations to have escaped Western control, along with Japan and Thailand. Tibet’s defense was to hide behind the Himalayas and prohibit foreigners from entering the country. Seven Years in Tibet gives a clear picture of Tibet’s diplomatic isolation and backwardness, and presents a sympathetic portrayal of the young Dalai Lama. Tibet’s extreme diplomatic isolation is broken only by a single diplomatic mission from Chiang Kai-shek’s China. With the collapse of the Chinese Nationalist government, Mao Tse Tung’s army is able to move in and take control. Seven Years in Tibet presents much of the historical backdrop to the current Tibetan tragedy.


Friday May 14, 2010 7:30 PM.

     The Tibetan Book of the Dead (90 Minutes), © 1994 National Film Board of Canada.

           Download The Tibetan Book of the Dead Screening Notice

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Thodol, otherwise known as the “Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation” was written by the great Tibetan saint Padmasambhava in the 8th century. It is probably the most celebrated and widely read work of Tibetan literature outside Tibet. Depending on different interpretations, it is either a practical guide to prepare the soul for its next incarnation or an advanced guide for practitioners of Buddhist meditation. Either way, it is a difficult and abstruse text.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead, is a pair of documentary films about death and dying, narrated by Leonard Cohen. Part I: A Way of Life, discusses the history of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and its application in the Himalayas today, where it is used as a guide to help the deceased navigate the treacherous passage to the next life. It is also presented in the context of a modern hospice in California. Part II: The Great Liberation shows an old Lama and a young acolyte as they guide a newly deceased Himalayan villager through the afterlife using readings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.


Friday April 9, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Fearless Mountain (64 Minutes), © 2009 Fearless Mountain.
     Buddha Wild (60 Minutes), © 2006 Carpe Diem.

           Download Fearless Mountain Screening Notice

Fearless Mountain and Buddha Wild are a pair of documentary films dealing with the transmission of Theravadin Buddhism to the West. Fearless Mountain is a 64-minute documentary exploring the world of the forest-dwelling monks of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in Redwood Valley, California. Abhayagiri means “Fearless Mountain” in Pali, and this film features candid interviews with the monks and other practitioners, and their daily routine. They live entirely on alms donated by members of the local community. We have a chance to see them in paddimmokka,or confession. Also featured is an ancient Thai ceremony in which a young boy – the son of immigrant Thai parents – formally joins the order. This is a film about American Buddhists who have taken vows as Theravadin monks, following in the Thai forest monastic tradition of Ajhan Chah. This film is being screened courtesy of Fearless Mountain Film.

Buddha Wild is a 60-minute documentary about Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhist monks in a missionary monastery in Christchurch, New Zealand. “Wild” means at one with nature. The film explores Theravadin religious beliefs and practices with primary focus on a community of celibate monks. The monks give candid accounts of their lives, their profession and Buddhist beliefs in a manner which is unpretentious and at times humorous. The “Monk in a Hut” refers to a sequence when the narrator, Anna Wilding, who is obviously liked by these monks, gets an invitation from one of them to visit his hut. The monks are primarily servicing the Thai and Sri Lankan expatriate community in New Zealand.


Friday March 12, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring (102 Minutes), © 2004 Sony Pictures.

           Download Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring screening notice.

An old Buddhist monk is living on a floating temple in the middle of breathtaking scenery, and a young boy comes into his life. The monk raises the child, who becomes his protégé. Later, the boy grows up and falls in love with a young woman who visits the temple for a cure.

“Award – winning Korean writer/director Kim Ki-duk has crafted a lushly exotic yet universal story about the human spirit and its evolution, from innocence to Love, Evil to Enlightenment, and ultimately to Rebirth that Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News calls ‘a beautifully composed canvas, the sort of film one falls into, resurfacing at the end with great reluctance.’” Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring is spoken in Korean with English subtitles.


Friday February 12, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Asoka (150 Minutes), © 2001 First Look Home Entertainment.

           Download Asoka screening notice.

Asoka was the first Buddhist King of India, an Emperor of the Mauryan empire. As a boy, Asoka was brought up as a sword-fighter and a warrior. Well liked and highly intelligent, his older half-brothers became wary of him as a possible successor to the throne. As the commander of several Mauryan army regiments, he successfully quelled an uprising in Taxshila, a city in the Punjab. His half-brothers, wary of his growing popularity, persuaded his father, King Bindusara, to send him into exile. While in exile in Kalinga, and living incognito, he fell in love with a fisherwoman named Kaurwaki (a princess of Kalinga in the movie), who historically became his second or third queen. He was called out of exile by his father to quell a violent uprising in Ujjain. Wounded in battle, he was nursed back to health by Buddhist monks and nuns, and fell in love with his personal nurse, a woman named Devi, who he married upon recovering from his injuries. After his father’s death, his older half-brother sent assassins to murder his wife and child, but the assassins killed his mother instead. Asoka retaliated against them, seized the throne and expanded the boarders of his empire to the point where – in some places – they exceeded those of present day India. In one particularly bloody conquest, he conquered and destroyed the state of Kalinga, killing 100,000 people in the process. It was after this conquest that he underwent a change of heart and became a follower of the Buddha’s teachings. The movie is a loose rendition of the story of the historical Asoka, complete with cavalry charges, beautiful dancing girls and battle elephants. It includes several song-and-dance numbers which – although well executed – appear to be designed for less-sophisticated Indian audiences. This is not the History Channel, but is nevertheless, a fun, interesting, entertaining film. Asoka is spoken in Hindi with English subtitles, and is being presented at the First Zen Institute courtesy of First Look Home Entertainment.


Friday January 8, 2010 7:30 PM.

     Buddhist Philosophy (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Buddhist Tantra (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     The Theory and Practice of the Mandala (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     The First Diffusion of the Dharma in Tibet (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company

           Download The Great Courses: Buddhism Screening Notice

These films are the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th lectures in the Teaching Company series "Buddhism," featuring Professor Malcolm David Eckel of Boston University. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, which is Boston University’s highest award for teaching. He holds a PhD. in Comparative Religion from Harvard.

In Buddhist Philosophy, Professor Eckel discusses discusses Buddhist philosophy as “practice seeking clarification,” and touches on the philosophy of Nagarjuna, the Madhyamaka school of philosophy, the Svatantrikas and Prasangikas, the Yogacara school, Asanga and Vasubandhu.

Buddhist Tantra discusses the historical emergence of Tantric Buddhism in the sixth century, Tantra as a pan-Indian (Buddhist and Hindu) phenomenon, the Vajrayana, the Mantrayana, wrathful buddhas, and the story of Maitregupta.

The Theory and Practice of the Mandala introduces the mandala as a meditational device, the Buddha Akshobhya, the mandala as a symbol for the world, the chakras, the three-dimensional mandala at the Kumbum in Gyantse, Tibet, and use of mandala in the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The First Diffusion of the Dharma in Tibet discusses the destruction of Buddhist monasteries in India, the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet during the seventh century, a line of Tibetan kings who protected and fostered the growth of Buddhism in Tibet, founding of the first Tibetan monastery, the great teacher Padmasambhava, and the Bon tradition.


Friday December 11, 2009 7:30 PM.

     Into Great Silence (162 Minutes), a film by Philip Groning, © 2007 Zeitgeist Films.

           Download Into Great Silence Screening Notice

Into Great Silence takes the viewer into the Grand Chartreuse, the head monastery of the Catholic Carthusian order. The monastery was founded by St. Bruno in 1084, although its present construction dates from 1676. As the title implies, the film is mostly in silence. We see the monks at prayer in their private cells, performing Gregorian chants, attending Mass, working in the kitchen, the vegetable gardens, chopping wood, sewing robes and reading spiritual texts. The monastery is located in a remote valley high in the alps. The film features two newcomers just admitted to the order, and tracks the course of life in the monastery through the seasons. The walls of the monastery are devoid of artwork except for a few crucifixes, the food is plain, and most modern electronic equipment is lacking -- a notable exception being a laptop computer used by the abbot. Rather than giving the viewer verbal discussions of Catholic philosophy or practices, the film puts the viewer face to face with the monks and gives a sense of how they live.


Friday November 13, 2009 7:30 PM.

     On Life & Enlightenment, Principles of Buddhism with His Holiness the Dalai Lama (150 Minutes), © 2006 Toscana Trading. Distributed by Hannover House.

On Life & Enlightenment: Principles of Buddhism with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is about Tibetan Buddhism in all its multifaceted complexity. The cinematography is spectacular, with shots of Tibetan towns, temples and monasteries set against towering mountains, mainly in Ladakh, in northern India. The film features Tibetan chanting, dances, rituals, ceremonies, philosophy, food, medicine, meditation practices, and lively dharma debates. Also included is some footage of the Chinese takeover of the Tibetan Capital of Lhasa in 1951. The episode on the Bardo deals with the passing of a Lama and his reincarnation as a small boy several months later. The episode on Tibetan medicine touches on various ancient medical techniques, herbal remedies, the Medicine Buddha and Tibetan acupuncture. The film features interviews with Tai Situ Rimpoche, Drubwang Penor Rimpoche, Sakya Trizin Rimpoche, Menri Tirzin Rimpoche, Anila Tenzin Palmo (a British nun), Ngagspa Karma, Tulku Anjam and the Dalai Lama.


Friday October 9, 2009 7:30 PM.

     Samurai The Last Warrior (66 Minutes), © 2004 Hannover House.
     Secrets of the Samurai Sword (58 Minutes), © 2007 WGBH Educational Foundation.

Samurai, The Last Warrior is a documentary film about the Samurai, featuring Dr. Stephen Turnbull, who holds an unusual combination of degrees: MAs in theology and also military history. He is considered one of the world's foremost experts on the samurai, and has authored more than twenty books on military history, many of them dealing with the samurai. Stephen Turnbull is currently a professor at the University of Leeds, where he received his PhD. Another Samurai expert featured prominently in this film is David Lowry, who is the author of many books on the Japanese martial arts. This film should not be confused with the film, "The Last Samurai," which is a full-length movie featuring Tom Cruise.

Secrets of the Samurai Sword is a NOVA film which looks at the science and ancient technology behind the manufacture of the katana, the razor-sharp sword used by the samurai. It features discussions with professional metallurgists, and swordsmiths employing ancient techniques. Also included are shots of the katana in action, as used by some modern descendents of the samurai.


Friday, September 11, 2009, 8:00 PM

     Mahayana Buddhism and the Bodhisattva Ideal (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company
     Emptiness (30 Minutes) © 2001 The Teaching Company

These films are the 10th, 11th and 12th lectures in the Teaching Company series "Buddhism," featuring Professor Malcolm David Eckel of Boston University. In 1998, Professor Eckel received the Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence, which is Boston University’s highest award for teaching. He holds a PhD. in Comparative Religion from Harvard.

In Mahayana Buddhism and the Bodhisattva Ideal Professor Eckel discusses the Lotus Sutra in general and the Parable of the Burning House in particular. He also discusses the ideal of the Bodhisattva who puts off entering Nirvana so that he can return to the human world to save all sentient beings. A featured bodhisattva is Vimalakirti (from the Vimalakirti Sutra), a famous layman who has knowledge of dharma which surpasses that of the Buddha's monks. Other bodhisattvas mentioned in this lecture are Queen Srimala, Sudhana and Samantabhadra.

Celestial Buddhas and Bodhisattvas also delves into the Lotus Sutra, and discusses the compassion of Avalokiteshvara (Chinese Kuan-yin), variously presented either as a male or a female. Professor Eckel mentions the famous Tibetan mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, and the celestial bodhisattva Maitreya, "the future Buddha". He also discusses Manjushri and Amithaba, the Buddha of "Infinite Light."

Emptiness -- the docterine of emptiness is presented as a very difficult concept to grasp. It is treated as an extension of the Buddhist docterine of "no self," and Professor Eckel mentions its Upanishadic roots. "Emptiness" is an english translation of the sanskrit "shunya." Emptiness is presented here as a kind of buoyancy, lightness and freedom. Professor Eckel also mentions an anecdote about a lecture given by the Dalai Lama on emptiness.