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Talking With Buddha 2010

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Empty Mind Films
Produced by Jon Braeley
Directed by Jon Braeley
DVD, color, 88 min.

Jr. High - Adult
Religious Studies, Buddhism, Asian Studies, Tibet, India, Human Rights

Date Entered: 07/08/2010

Reviewed by Barbara J. Walter, Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO

Producer-director Jon Braeley originally intended to document the uncertain future of Tibetan Buddhism under the guidance of the 14th Dalai Lama. But he found his interviews with leading Tibetan Buddhist Geshe and Rinpoche so compelling that he shifted the focus of Talking With Buddha—bringing these Dharma scholars to the fore to address fundamental human questions: what does a meaningful life look like? How do we cultivate peace of mind and compassion toward others? And how do we move from belief to action?

For the first ten minutes of the film there is no narration; gorgeous scenery from throughout India—especially sites sacred to Buddhism—and music, much of it recorded live in various monasteries, set the tone and draw the viewer into the exotic landscape. Geshe and Rinpoche describe the science of the inner mind that is Buddhism, the distinctiveness of Tibetan Buddhism, and the precarious state of their religion and culture as well as their efforts to preserve and pass them on to the next generation of Tibetans, all the while sharing insight into living the Dharma life.

A large portion of the interview time is given over to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a Western-born Buddhist nun who spent twelve years alone in a cave in the Himalayas in her quest for enlightenment. Her observations on Westerners' pace of life, lack of discipline and "quick fix" mentality are gentle but pointed.

Technical quality is top notch. In Tibetan and English with English subtitles—a valiant effort was put forth to produce coherent sentences from some of the interviewees' broken English. A thoroughly engaging introduction to Buddhism as practiced by Tibetans in exile, Talking with Buddha is appropriate for classroom use from junior high through college, and would be a great addition to libraries supporting religious or Asian studies programs.