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DVD Review: The Essence of Mahayana Buddhism with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Theresa

His Holiness begins with an explanation about Mahayana Buddhism: “I cannot express through my English but I will try my best.” With the help of a translator and a patient audience he succeeds in more ways than one in this film about a man on a mission to serve the world.

The chapters in this 50-minute DVD document His Holiness in Britain in 1984: “Basic Mahayana Teaching: The Essence of Buddhism is Compassion“; “Importance of Implementing Buddha’s Teaching in Daily Life”; “Buddhism in Western Culture“; “Questions & Answers.” I will give the gist of a couple of the chapters and an overview of the DVD and in some instances paraphrase for clarity.

His Holiness spoke and said that generally, the essence of Buddhism is compassion. On that basis there must be restraint from hurting others—non-violence. That is the essence of Mahayana teaching. Also it means to go, to help, to serve others, and to do so without selfish feelings. One single person means “one being” but “other” means the rest of sentient beings. He said if you are going to be selfish then be a “wise selfish” because if you help others you will be much happier than before. If you put others first you will be happier in the end, even if you do not expect this benefit. In fact it is better to act without reward or expection of benefit or instant gratification.

About Buddhism in the West, he says that when you start to practice dharma you should not feel great expectation. He mocks, in a gentle manner, the Western way by saying that with your modern facilities you expect everything to come easily and that you create too much expectation at the beginning. Practice and mastery of Mahayana Buddhism takes time. You can lose determination from great expectation and you must understand that progress takes time.

Humanity has religion but the religion does not belong to the country. In the East we think of Hinduism in the East, Christianity as purely a Western religion, and that Buddhism is an eastern religion only. He argues and warns that in the practice of the eastern religions such as Buddhism that one should not isolate oneself from the rest of society. Take the essence and make it adaptable in your environment. It means that if you have a family and a religion that you can practice that faith and remain a faithful member of your family at the same time. That’s a good point because isolationism is often indicative of a cult and that would limit freedom rather than foster it.

He continues, saying that in ancient times, Buddhism flourished in India and then spread to other cultures and countries. It is the same Buddhism today but because of the different cultures we call it Tibetan Buddhism or Indian Buddhism because the religion sits side-by-side with the culture it is found in and adjust to it. Religion can yoke in a Western mode and in the future you can call it Western Buddhism or Scottish Buddhism (laughter). He joked that unless you take some operation to change your appearance then you will be the same whether you are a Buddhist or Christian. Then His Holiness took questions from the audience.

One woman asked if there was any difference in the compassion Mother Theresa practices and exhibits and compassion as Buddhism teaches. His response: the indication of the same result of different teaching; she was from a true Christian teaching, she was such a fine person, a nice lady, but really she was working unselfishly for others. If you compare them then they are the same amount but the cause is not the same, thus the complication. In her case I don’t know unless I had clairvoyance and knew her mind (laughter).

One needs Buddhist compassion but it requires the assistance of wisdom. Buddhists do not accept a creator so there are fundamental differences. Is there a difference in the meaning of your compassion another woman asked. And he answered that without a dictionary he was not sure (laughter). This film concludes with a Q&A session from the audience where His Holiness further clarifies what it means to be a Buddhist who practices true compassion. The world can learn a lot from this holy man who seeks to serve the world with compassion.

first published at: by Heloise http://blogcritics.org/video/article/dvd-review-the-essence-of-mahayana/#ixzz1cHY3D8Gs

DVD Review: Facing Death & Dying Well

First published at blogcritics.org

http://blogcritics.org/video/article/dvd-review- 

facing-death-dying-well/

…all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die… Steve Jobs (June 14, 2005, commencement address at Stanford University)

 

The expected but early death of Steve Jobs–technology compositional genius who orchestrated a new age of electronic icons—creates a teachable moment about death and rebirth. I think it is fitting to weave these current events with cosmic change. Ironically recent remarks above from Jobs set the scene. He traveled with a friend in 1973 to India returning a shorn Buddhist complete with robes; however, Robert Thurman said he would not consider him a “practicing Buddhist.” But perhaps we can incorporate Buddhist’s beliefs with how Jobs conducted his death as well as his life and Apple Corporation.

In this DVD the 14th Dalai Lama spoke about death but did not recount how he was located by the monks who visited his home and tested him with objects when he was just a small child. But full-length movies and documentaries are available that recount his humble beginnings.

According to His Holiness, it is not what the man believes in when he shakes the mortal coil but how he dies. And this DVD is about helping everyone to face death and to die well. One ingredient that aided Jobs in death was a peaceful setting surrounded by loved ones. The Buddhists believe this is the only (preferred) way to die because it opens the door to a good rebirth.

The discussions in this 165-minute DVD: “Beginning,” “Facing death in a peaceful manner,” “How to deal with death from a Buddhist viewpoint,” “Importance of good preparation for death,” “Value of a peaceful mind at time of death” and Questions and Answers.

The Dalai Lama talks about the four noble truths the Buddha taught. He explains, first is the truth of suffering and it is taught within three characteristics. The first being “Impermanence,” and when talking about the nature of impermanence there are two levels: the coarse level which is the cessation event we call death.The transitory nature of existence means the changing nature is more subtle. The aim of the subtle nature when taught by the Buddha is to get at the basic unsatisfactory nature of existence. Any existence which is brought about by causes and conditions depends on them.

The subtle nature of impermanence depends on causes and conditions. The seed of cause is already there. Ignorant state of mind is the root of our existence
and governs it.

On the coarse level of impermanence: Dalai Lama teaches that first reflecting on the coarser levels leads one to appreciation of the subtler levels. One can grasp with the eternal or permanent existence after such reflection. It cannot be done in one lifetime alone.

One of the reasons why the awareness of death is so crucial because the state of mind at the time of death will determine the next birth or have great affect upon it.

Secondly, one of the positive side-effects of attaining the awareness of death is so that one can be in positive state of mind, including meditation; it will prepare an individual for the death event and he will be better able to maintain that state of mind.

In Tantric Buddhism it is maintained that the state of mind one has at death is extremely subtle and has a great impact on one’s mental continuum. So we find a lot of emphasis on death meditation. Individuals at the time of death can maintain his presence of mind and subtle state of mind for the realization of calm. In many countries, yoga meditation or on deities, involve reflecting on the dissolution process at the point of death.

From the Tantric perspective, the entire process of existence is explained in terms of three states: death, intermediate state and rebirth and all are seen as various states of manifestations of consciousness. The three are just levels of
consciousness. The indications of such fluctuations we find in our own daily existence. Within a 24-hour day we go through a cycle of awake, sleep, dream sleep and deep sleep that is comparable or a microcosm of the consciousness, a deep ebb and flow of consciousness.

When talking about the distinction between subtle and gross levels of mind bear in mind what we mean by “mental consciousness.” Do we mean that there is some sort of autonomous level that is independent of the bodily states, like a soul? I think this is a mistaken idea. His Holiness thinks that if you would examine our mental world you would find that most of our functions have direct
physical basis. The brain and nervous system is the base of much of our conscious experience and I agree with the scientists on this. They are linked intimately with the body states so when one dissolves the other dissolves. What
gives rise to a cognitive event? His Holiness continues.

What is the mere state of knowing and what makes it possible? Buddhist explanation: we point toward the clear light state which is independent and the subtlest level of consciousness giving rise to all our consciousness events. There are certain indications of the existence which are more possible for religious persons. A person can be pronounced clinically dead and remain in
that state for days and the body does not decompose.

The Buddhist explanation for this is that the individual is not actually dead but is in the process of dying. Although the mind body nexus may have ceased at the grosser level but it has not ceased at the subtle level. That is the tantric Buddhist explanation for the “near-death experience” which I saw when my own master’s life was suspended for 16 days and his body remained fresh during that time he was consciously away from it.

His Holiness humbly shared his attitude toward death: I don’t know what really happens at death. Sometimes when I think about death I get some kind of excitement. My only burden at this moment is if I die what will happen to Tibet. To think about death is helpful to reduce fear about it. When death finally comes all my preparation may fail (laughter). It is helpful mentally to think
about death and it releases much fear to contemplate death and the next birth this is what Buddhists do.

He affirmed that if you prepare fully for death then you can prepare for it. So if the moment of death is peaceful then your peace of mind can be sustained and that is the foundation for death. That is a guarantee for a good life the next life. That’s about death…then what else?

Conclusion: for those who practice this belief no matter the religion at the time of death the peaceful mind is the goal. A religious believer may be looking for a heaven but regardless to belief a person needs a peaceful mind in the final hours. If you develop a virtuous state of mind then no matter what you did in your lifetime, at the moment of death with a forceful positive mind it is
guaranteed that the immediate next life will be a good one.

Those who attend the person at death should not create any factor which will disturb the person’s mind and should not raise some reminder of negative past experiences.

The DVD ends with a Q&A session where the audience writes their questions and they are answered thoughtfully by his Holiness. His ability to not take himself too seriously elicits laughter from the audience at the disarming answers from this guru who is not afraid to say that he does not know even when he does know.

For Western audiences gurus often treat a topic like death as an unknown experience. In this country death and dying is an academic discipline but an infant science in practice that will one day lead to the practice of dying while living.

DVD Review: Dalai Lama Series

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

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first published at blogcritics: http://blogcritics.org/video/article/dvd-review-the-dalai-lama-dvd/

His Holiness the Dalai Lama considered the emanation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara is also the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. This 14th Lama was found by the rituals embedded in the Tibetan culture of Buddhism for finding the next incarnation. The child is confirmed and brought to live within the walls of the great monastery where he will be trained. The present Dalai Lama was given an early Western education which has served him well— a wildly popular guru—sought out by global glitterati for impressive photo ops also as a fount of wisdom and sound advice. Until recently he had political aspirations and indeed those earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 but recently retired his political garb. His Holiness made a summer lecture stop in Dallas where the Bushes were seated in the front row and the tickets for the event scooped up in minutes.

His Holiness speaks excellent English—this new series was recorded in 1993 during a UK visit. He sits on stage accompanied by a trusted translator. So these two DVDs are in part Tibetan and part English because some concepts are conveyed in Tibetan and translated into English. I received the first two DVDs in the Dalai Lama series: Contentment, Joy & Living Well; A Practical Way of Directing Love & Compassion. These recorded talks are given with the usual grace of this teacher. It is a bit more challenging to review dialogue rather than action on the big screen. I enjoyed the insight and the wisdom shared, most of which will resonate with Westerners who wonder about the role of wealth, sex and relationships when trying to live a normal but moral life.

The householder lifestyle is preferred by Eastern philosophies because it takes the seeker and the practitioner away from extremes. One’s light and life led is supposed to speak volumes on this silent path. The balance is always the standard. In fact these days Eastern philosophy is less religion and more BYOB-like: bring your own beliefs. We know this is not okay among Bible-belt Christians. This is where the clash of the titan religions is played out. The most famous Westerner to cross this divide and broker the conflict even writing many books elucidating Eastern religionsThomas Merton; spent the last few months of his life in deep pursuit of Tibetan Buddhism and even studied with His Holiness.

The DVD Contentment, Joy & Living Well includes the following topics: “How to Find Happiness and Overcome Suffering”; “Using Our Potential to Balance Intelligence and Compassion”; “How to Utilize Material Wealth as a Cause for Satisfaction”; Distinguishing the Positive and Negative Aspects of Desire; “Responsibility and Commitment in Sexual Relationship and Family Life”; “Using The 6 Perfections to Good Effect in Daily Life”; Questions and Answers. Reviewing these talks is much like reviewing a book. To that end, I chose a few salient words that might appeal to most readers.

From the utilizing wealth for satisfaction talk: His Holiness discusses how man is given many gifts including rebirth, long life, good health factors that create a “good life” but the utilization of them depends in turn on mental faculties. In other words, a smart man lives a smart life. There’s more, leading a good moral life is needed. And when tested how does a person hold up and bear the hardships of life that will come? There are always headlines and media coverage of catastrophic events (or sudden job loss) and one observation often made consists of remarks about the grit and the grace exhibited by those who have lost their formerly happy lives filled with friends, things and sound mental health. How humans bear burdens is a part of spirituality and must be added to the education of this critical mass.

His Holiness continues–with rebirth and freedom from rebirth which starts with attachment; because attachment “creates dirty things from clean things.” In any given life: wealth + health + companions = happiness formula. But material wealth is a causal factor and satisfaction the resultant factor of desire. He said its fruition was wealth: you get what you most desire in life but it may not come in the present one but another day (lifetime) due to our attachments. Ironically when perfect health and material wealth are in abundance it does not guarantee happiness but one factor for satisfaction. He concluded by saying that we call things “desired” positive, and things not desired negative.

The Dalai Lama speaks on sex and family and admits he has never been married but it is part of nature he states and its sole purpose is that of reproduction. Sexual relationships must be coupled with a sense of responsibility and commitment. He mentions that marriage is good but “hasty marriage” not so good because people need time to know each other. Marriage is integral to humanity because without it we would resemble animals (dogs) where the male participates in the mating and pleasure but leaves before the responsibility of the offspring settles in. And adds wryly that birth control is a necessity because “compared to violence sex is better.”

The DVD A Practical Way of Directing Love & Compassion includes the following topics: “Like a Mother and her Child;” The Exact Meaning of Love and Compassion;” “Importance of Developing Equanimity & Affection;” “Buddhism Emphasizes the Unity of Wisdom & Compassion;” “Compassion is a Source of Inner Strength.” In both DVDs His Holiness repeats his default advice “attitude it everything.” I found the most impactful statements from the talks on the exact meaning of love and the nature of “pure profits.” I think His Holiness was on to something what’s more showed prescience in his 1993 observation about “the right and wrong demarcation” created by human compassion. For example, he said that Tibetans believe that the warmth of the doctor’s heart is the healer. And when a cure is not affected the doctor is blamed. That thinking wouldn’t wash in the West.

The other challenging issue in compasssion was what he called “economics.” But he could have easily said “capitalism.” His prescience involved something that most investors would not see coming: dual bubble crashes of the housing market and big banks in 2008. Was lack of compassion the root cause here? Was it criminal and irresponsible? The Dalai Lama lands a punch when he speaks of and dares to compare the world of common drug dealers (or drug cartels) to those who find themselves in business and concerned only with “pure profit.” By aligning the business man with the drug dealer His Holiness makes a bold comparison. His caveat is simple: if a person seeks commercial ventures for pure profit irrespective of the consequences to humanity then that person is equally criminal or as rogue as a thuggish arms dealer. He also waxes on events to come in the world of wealth that would rock the economic foundation of first-world countries. He labels it: “dangerously irresponsible.” His statement arises from an amazing state of clarity. While nothing as widespread as the 2008 market meltdown is simple as the “right and wrong demarcation” he speaks of but many asked where was the compassion when people were thrown out of homes and bilked out of life savings which juxtaposed outright billionaire profit-taking with those just out of work.

I found both DVDs and talks by His Holiness the Dalai Lama interesting, full of unplanned witty moments, insightful and another chance for this spiritual leader to demonstrate to the world his full capacity to grasp Western complexity. He has more than enough eloquence to comment on them. However, if you don’t like Buddhism or Eastern wisdom, or advice from men in orange robes that’s okay too, as long as you recognize that “attitude is everything” and I would add so is an open mind.

The “Laws of Rebirth” can’t be caught, they must be taught

That insight marks my revelation for the year not just the day. I confess confusion as to what went wrong. I told my Buddhist aunt about my angst that has now lasted for years. Then I started thinking and dreaming about it. What I saw in a dream last week was simple: It was my book just like that. It was the book exactly as it looks. I was really surprised because I had given up any hope about its worth.

I had this insight just days before I got a call from the RS sect I left a few years ago inviting me to come to Houston to hear sat sang by the guru. My own I vitiating guru died in 1991. And I was liberated to become the master or rather externalize him or her.

That I did. But my moral confession comes in that I was not accepted by those I wanted to know and practice the laws of rebirth. So I sulked instead and made them a promise that I would take my message to the masses. While like any good and well taught cultists they denigrated the masses and dismissed it with how ignorant it was.

That’s actually cult think. Something along those lines was said by our current rep at the last sating I attended in north Texas when he said there was a bad vibe associated with people who eat meat or in places where meat is sold or consumed. Really? This is classic cult talk because as others have observed about rssb is that they engage in putting the seeker on a pedestal because they are stasangis or don’t eat meat.

To save my own health and life just as I did when I was Jack. I had to eat meat to get my anemia under control. I did not change nor did my karmas.

So dear reader I have been rejected by the very spiritual people I sought to please and write for I went into retreat and withdrawal but not depression. But the masses are the beneficiary of my personal doubt and demon.

My mind is clear now and my soul karmically clear due to my long hard work. Thirty years in the making of the laws of rebirth. So why on earth would I expect anyone outside or inside the inner planes to get what it took me so ling to get. I did not catch the laws either I fought for them I taught myself an now, after some planning, I am going to teach anyone else who wants to learn and not dismiss as some buddhists bad dream or a mistake by translators of the buddha tongue. Rebirth is real the rebirthers got it all wrong. Wait for the truth.

Finally thank you Stephen for opening my eyes to the need that won’t be met I see now until the work begins in earnest. I did not formulate the laws alone or in a vacuum and they won’t be properly spread by just one person but a group.

links about karma: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/introduction/basic_question_karma_rebirth.html

In Buddhism, karma refers to impulses. Based on previous actions we have done, impulses arise in us to act in certain ways now.

I like this link and will preview links about karma and rebirth before I post them.  I can attest to this statement that karma is based on impulse and previous actions.  For example I wanted desperately to return to France, to study in France at the Sorbonne.  I actually got the chance to do so in this life. But because my kids were still young I did not pursue it.  Instead I did pursue the chance to live there for a summer. I used to dream in French, so much so that I did not even understand what I was saying in fluent French!  When I uncovered the many lifetimes I’ve spent in France I thought no wonder.  It is a strong impulse and desire.  I wrote a poem about it once called “ALL” about how I had done everything, all the things I desired were already realized. 

Stephen Batchelor: Those Who Can’t Do, Leech

Padmasambhava, a picture I, John Hill, took in...

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NOTE: This post is an opinion not a book review.  Heloise talks trash about Obama–so I don’t think Stephen Batchelor is eligible for a pass on criticism of his work/opinions.  If my methods or language offend, sorry that’s just me.  Anyone is welcome to submit comments, with approval.  I am not putting the man down it is not a personal attack—just his new take on the laws of rebirth.  I used to read his books until I wrote my own.

http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2010/10/a-difficult-pill-the-problem-with-stephen-batchelor-and-buddhism’s-new-rationalists/

great article on the subject of Batchelor’s new teachings, if you want to call them that. Here’s link to his website: http://www.stephenbatchelor.org/

Also an interview: http://www.tricycle.com/reviews/secular-buddhism

Here’s his latest book  Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

He and his wife are traveling all over the world lecturing, ala Blavatsky and Olcott about his new non beliefs in the law of rebirth.  In fact I am going to stop calling it “rebirth” but always use “the law of Rebirth.” Just like the law of gravity on earth and in the universe it is infallible and guides our lives.  It is hiding, dear folks in plain sight.  That is why no one sees it.  It is truly complex, non linear and utterly fascinating.  Those who don’t know it or the laws that govern it should STFU about it.  And that includes “esteemed” “educated” “buddhists” such as the Batchelors.  Yeah, I am calling you out in the name of one of my past lives “HPB.” See you in southwestern France when I get there.

My take: no one is buying this new formulation of uber atheistic Buddhism where the Buddha is stripped of his karmic and rebirth robes. His Buddha is a naked emperor and I for one ain’t buying this Batchelor bullshit.

A spiritual anecdote:  When I was active at my old yahoo website “Theosophy Talks Truth” I encountered people who were following the path and guru, forgot his name will look up, that taught “Who Am I?” and that sort of inquiry and meditation.  I did their practice for a few weeks.  I experienced the “nothingness” they talk about and went on the inner plane and even met their guru who touched my lotus feet and I did the same.  We recognized each other as teacher.  When I was done with that experience I told them: I’ve been there, done that. What else you got?  Needless to say it was not satisfying spiritually.  I have documented that experience there and one day will look for it and post it. 

Here’s a passage I just found on rebirth and the burden of proof on the scientific world to prove its “nonexistence”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has said that if certain points do not correspond to reality, he is willing for them to be eliminated from Buddhism. This applies to rebirth as well. In fact, he made this statement originally in that context. If scientists can prove that rebirth does not exist, then we must give up believing it to be true. However, if scientists cannot prove it false, then because they follow logic and the scientific method, which is open to understanding new things, they must investigate whether it does exist. To prove that rebirth does not exist, they would have to find its nonexistence. Just saying, “Rebirth does not exist because I do not see it with my eyes” is not finding the nonexistence of rebirth. Many things exist that we cannot see with our eyes.

source: http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/archives/approaching_buddhism/introduction/basic_question_karma_rebirth.html

I am doing a little online research as I read to review a new book on ScientologyInside Scientology” that really blows the covers off cult creators such as LRH. And I ran across this article. See above link.

This guy is A rebirth denier. A rebirther if you will so he is stupidly trying to rewrite and reinvent Buddhism and the Buddha as incompatible with the law of rebirth and the laws of karma. So I say those who don’t know who are proven outsiders leech off true teachers and change their teaching to suit themselves. He has become the laughing stock of those who know the Buddha was all about rebirth and spent the first talks about his recovered past lives after he sat in meditation to become the first insider. Take that Stephen.

Educate yourself on religion, spirituality and Radha Soami (source: Mt. Sac Dave Lane Ph.D)

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https://sites.google.com/site/msacsociologyofreligion/

 Msac Philosophy Group Book Catalog: http://www.msacphilosophygroup.com

Msac Philosophy Group Book Catalog: http://www.msacphilosophygroup.com

Msac Magazines for the Mind Listings: http://sites.google.com/site/msacmagazines/

CBS Sunday Morning Cover Story Talks Reincarnation (rebirth)

JFK (film)

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Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their LivesReincarnation Books)

 Books from Amazon

CBS News Sunday Morning cover story reported by Susan Spencer was the subject “Second Time Around” however, it is more than just a second time it a whole lot of times. 

Brian Weiss, M.D. with his mass hypnosis charging 150.00 a ticket was the subject. I have his books but have not tried his methods yet. I don’t believe in hypnosis nor do I think it is needed to uncover past lives. For me I used meditation, history books, dream journals, and then it become part of my stream of consciousness that I just knew about not only my lives but those of others.

That’s where my work differs from ANY body out there. I have been able to find the past lives of those around me. It’s real don’t let anybody tell you differently.  And yes, people do recall regular lives in far away countries, as a peasant or the like.  Just think when OBL returns what will he know?  Hitler has returned and he looks the same, and tried to re-enter politics but was unsuccessful. However, his dad was a famous person and politician.  Can’t reveal his name yet.  The thing is I am the expert and when I retire I will take my message on the road and planning to reissue my book in chapters and expanded information.  I am about to buy the ISBN numbers for it.

And the last 20 lifetimes are the ones, the only ones that will contain the so-called “famous” lives of apotheosis.  Think of all the books filled with history and autobiographies of people just waiting to be re-discovered.  I know I also used history to uncover the details of what my dreams were telling me: I was JFK.

Dalai Lama does Dallas SMU Monday May 9/webcast (event soldout sorry)

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The tickets sold out in an hour, not sure about prices though, but that’s moot so there will be a webcast .

webcast link below: http://www.smu.edu/live

There is a webcast at the link. The Dalai Lama getting honorary degree from Southern Methodist University in University Park, Dallas. He will speak to a large group first mostly high school students.  I did not know about this and just saw a commercial for it. I would have to take the day off, which I almost did.

I like him because he was a friend to Thomas Merton, my son in a recent past life and in this life.

Movie Review: Hereafter

Hereafter DVD on Amazon when available

 
Article first published as Movie Review: Hereafter on Blogcritics.

The movie review that follows this new introduction took a lot of heat. People thought it was a bad review. Clint Eastwood is on CBS News Sunday Morning and when asked what happens after death he replied “I haven’t the foggiest idea.” That’s how his movie reads too.  But  I did not want to give it a bad review but a totally ambiguous review.

At The Trough the link “The Daily Lama” was inspired during my visit to New Mexico this summer (I have posted photos of the stupa with me standing in front) where I stayed with my elderly aunt. Well she is not elderly exactly, but 11 years older than myself. She was my bulwark growing up, my defender, my friend from many past lives.

We were Satsangis together for over 20 years, now she was a Buddhist which is not a far leap from Sant Mat. I asked her why she was so absorbed into Buddhism these days.  Her response ” I want to be ready for my death.”  That is what Buddhism is all about going to your next life after death. Is there an intermediate stage? Yes, it’s called the Bardo. But for the advanced the goal is to remain conscious from one death to the next body that Buddhists and myself KNOW is waiting.

There are reasons why some do not go directly to a new body but most do. I tracked down the laws that govern the soul’s journey from one body to the next in my book  Dinner With DaVinci, It represents over 30 years of study and journaling about my life which I was able to mine for divine knowledge about my past lives and how the laws are the real change agents. The laws take us from here to there.

The original review:

 You will meet a tall, dark psychic in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. He has done it again and adds to his film hit list by creating another gifted genre movie about uneasy psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon).  Peter Morgan’s screenplay fares well under Eastwood’s direction.The film follows the lives of three individuals in different cities in different countries, seeking answers to life’s greatest paradox: is there life after death? The seekers have never met and on the face of it, not a part of the same equation.

George, the loner, worries about job security in San Francisco. In France Marie Lelay (Cecile De France), the journalist, fears the boot by France’s biggest publisher Didier (Thierry Neuvic) and worries about her job security. In London a mom worries about keeping her job as mother to identical twins Marcus/Jason (Frankie McLaren and George McLaren ). Clint’s job is to connect this people bazaar with karmic ties that land them in the same city meet-up at the end.

Death-and-loss themes run through this film but Eastwood keeps it at arm’s length. That’s a good thing because Clint is reassuring his audience while raising directly death at every age. He introduces the idea of reincarnation or rebirth.  Here Clint paints with flat finish rather than a shiny one that only a psychic can divine. Speaking of divine—God does not have a role in Hereafter. He is never mentioned nor is there love for Asia after the tsunami. No eating in George’s cooking class in Frisco and just a wisp of praying at a funeral in London.  

So how does Eastwood introduce reincarnation and life after death? One way is through George. He is obsessed with and falls asleep to the readings of Charles Dickens. That love changes his life in unexpected ways. And where does George get this ability in the first place? He explains it as an operation gone badly. Simultaneously, in France, there’s talk of a “silent conspiracy” against those who make clinical studies of the NDE or near-death experience.

The recreation of the December 26, 2004 tsunami is a heavy piece of history that most recall. The tsunami event, in an unnamed city, explores the NDE in beautiful sequences. Here Marie dies and recalls something while she is gone—a very hazy vision and feeling of floating.  Is that all? I did not get it. I found it to be no more than a mediator’s forgotten dream experience, unconvincing, nice try.

This film is set in the present and is more about how distraction or obsession with death is not a way to win friends or influence people. Life moves upside down for the three protagonists: a young twin will lose his brother, a French journalist will lose her job, and George’s dock job will dry up. He tries to take up a normal life and new line of work, but can’t escape his calling to talk to the dead.

What conclusions does Clint profess? He presents nothing different from what most orthodox religions believe: that people go somewhere but can still be reached somehow by the right psychic. In this case, George needs only hold hands to make an instant connection to pivotal events in a person’s life. Some  unnerved while others beg for his touch.

I have to tell you that Matt’s George is a beautifully nuanced performance. He is an ordinary person with an extraordinary gift: connecting to the dearly departed. While there is nothing original about Eastwood’s premise that the dress rehearsals for death aka NDEs are new. I do not find much merit in the so-called NDE. So why dwell on it?  

On the other hand, in Clint’s film the NDE does not even make sense to this psychic. In fact while I know that the only way that people can have the type of karmic ties portrayed in Hereafter is if they were forged in former lives, That is my problem with this film from a spiritual point of view. I think Clint should have been a little bolder in addressing reincarnation and take a more critical look at the NDE instead of this uncertain approach to a certain event–death.

SPOILER ALERT

Matt Damon as George does not find love in this film, not even a kiss. What’s up with these movies? He does meet a woman at a cooking class where they DO NOT EAT  but taste foods and have to tell which is which. She begs him for a date. They go to his apt. in San Fran and when he touches her hand after she demands a reading, he reads that she has been molested by her father and that her mother is dead.

Interesting that is what happened to me also. I was molested and my mother died young. The woman freaks out and they never see each other again.

The other people in the story ARE in no way related to each other.  At the end they all meet up in London but it is a real stretch. He is after the women who, Belgian actress, who claims a NDE after drowning and being revived in a tsunami. She gets fired from her job because she can no longer concentrate and writes a book about her NDE instead of a book about politician Francois Mitterrand. They are mad but she writes a book that does get published and goes to the book fair in London.

Here’s where they all meet. Matt tracks her down to her hotel room and leaves her a 3 page letter. He waits for her in an outside coffee house. Again, that is part of my story because I met a man in India with whom I had a lot of  karma and stayed with him in Paris the next summer. But nothing came of it.

So, in this story, Matt sees them kissing in a vision as she approaches. He stands up and they meet outside and  that’s the end. No kissing, no sex, no conclusions at all about life after death. Clint you need  me.

The Daily Lama

This post introduces my new page “The Daily Lama” which I created and told my aunt that this name was her lama’s new nickname. I am good at that. But it’s a play on “Dalai”.  Thus this page will serve as sort of a stream of meditation and talks that I’ve had about Buddhism and how spiritual practice is my life. I’ve taken more to walking meditation these days. Thomas Merton actually brought this back into vogue and into Catholicism. It is a Buddhist practice. Here’s a link to Mahayana TNLSF.org

I usually wake at 6:30 and take my walks. This morning I got up even earlier to  write and then to walk.

My aunt and I go back many lifetimes and we talk about everything.  We were both raised and devout Catholics.  Leaving Catholic Church and turning to a cult that included daily mediation and vegetarianism and not taking drugs or alcohol has been my reality for 30 years.

So after 40 years as a vegetarian and turning away from it was a big deal.  So, the biggest thing of late my turning from veganism to eating meat. It was a needed change because I could feel my iron level and energy level sinking to a new low. No amount of vitamins or iron tabs would bring it back. So, I made the decision that  i would have to eat meat to lose weight and to increase my iron level. It has worked so far.

Will I return to vegetarianism? Maybe. Just read that Gere is not a vegan he eats meat. The lamas eat meat to clear the stream of karmas.

The other thing that she and I discuss, as you might know if you read this blog are Jews. We have to make our peace with Jews at this time. Why? Because they have made Buddhism and other things like yoga and Sant Mat their home. In other words we can’t avoid Jews any more than you can avoid Mexicans in places like Texas and New Mexico. So we have to make our peace with them or risk ruining our peace of mind.

That’s not to say that anything I’ve said about Jews is not valid. It’s valid, true and what’s more needed to be said. Jews must become spiritual as Alice Bailey laments. And as a race that has deeply suffered I find that they do have the capacity for spirituality because they have suffered and understand suffering. That’s what Buddhism is about. It’s not about the money, but about life and death and rebirth.

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Richard Gere on Buddhism and Dalai Lama

This ongoing page chronicles my involvement with Buddhism.

My aunt who has taken the refuge vow while living in New Mexico, where there is a large Buddhist center speaks often of how life changing Buddhism has been for her. She was also a Satsangi for many years just as I was. But that time is over. And I ask is this the time for Buddhism for me?

One thing that is evolving and changing is our relationship to the Jewish people. Because if you join a group like Sant Mat or like Buddhism you will encounter many Jews there. It’s not because they are smarter or more wealthy than other groups but they are seeking.

As a prominent Hollywood Jew, Richard Gere a beacon to other Jews to join the Buddhist fold has worked on many levels. It has also greatly enriched the Buddhists.

I wrote briefly about Gere as he touched my journey while writing “Dinner With DaVinci.” I wrote about my encounters that year. The tie-in was also my investigation of Thomas Merton’s life. He greatly influenced and was influenced by the Dalai Lama. Those are just two examples of my ties to Buddhism.

But while in North Carolina I heard Satsangis speaking about Gere’s visit to the Dera, in the Punjab, India and that made sense because Gere travels frequently to India. But he was there looking at how the Dera was set up as a spiritual compound. I have to ask my aunt the name of the place that has just opened for the Dalai Lama that was built with funds earmarked for that purpose.

What has come to my attention is the money that the Buddhists seem to be raking in. That concerns me. Is it for profit or are they prophets?

More later