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DDM Sydney: "Movie & Mind"

On the 25th and 26th July 2009, DDM Sydney hosted the "World Cafe" to discuss relationships and "Movies & Mind" to watch a movie together to generate discussion on some universal themes of life.

Chang Xiang and Chang Xu Fashi hosted the sessions and all participants were challenged to consider how Chan can be practised in everyday life.

Through these sessions questions were raised as to how the teaching of Buddhism can be incorporated to improve our everyday relationships and how mediums such as movies and entertainment can be used to see that our own challenges of life are in fact universal themes we all face together.

The "World Cafe" on relationships followed watching parts of a documentary called Le Peuple Migrateur (The Travelling Birds) which is a documentary on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.

The documentary raised interesting questions on whether we should go through life just following our instincts, not questioning our habits or should we cultivate awareness of our actions to gain wisdom? Are birds lucky that they seem to have certainty in their life by following their nature or is this a suffering that we as fellow sentient beings share? Are we as humans blessed (or not) by being able to be aware of our actions? Are we in fact aware of our habits and if not how do we become aware?

After this, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss themes of relationships. What are the different kinds of relationships we participate in? Which is most important to us? How do we interact in them and what is the role of others in our life? Are we like a migratory bird flying in formation or are we conscious of our role and strive to generate loving and kindness in our interactions with others?

By sharing in this session (and a healthy lunch!) participants were able to see that the themes of Buddadharma are not abstract and intellectual but real for us all, every moment of every minute.

The next day, "Movies & Mind" started with all watching the Italian movie Rosso come il cielo (Red like the Sky), a movie inspired by the true story of Mirco Mencacci, who was blinded as a boy but overcome adversity to become one of the most respected Italian sound editors.

Again many questions were raised that are just as relevant for us in Sydney in 2009 as they were in Italy in Mirco Mencacci’s youth. Which senses are we aware of in our day to day life? How do we face our problems and what is suffering? Why do some appear to suffer more than others? Are we lucky to have teachers to shine a light for us and do we in turn hold the light for others?

Participants were touched by the beauty of the film and how such themes of living are universal.

The afternoon was spent in a sharing session for DDM Sydney members facilitated by Guo Guang Fashi. What is the role of DDM Sydney in the practice of Chan? What is the relationship between DDM Sydney and DDM Taiwan to ensure that the lineage of Master Sheng Yen is available in this Western culture in the 21st Century?
All participants are thankful that we had the opportunity to contemplate these questions.

DDM Sydney would like to take this opportunity to thank the visiting monastics from DDM Taiwan who led these sessions and were available for discussion at other times during the week.

By these interactions, the practice of Chan in Sydney in 2009 is vitalised and a vision to create a pure land on earth is strengthened.

Peace be to all beings.

(by DDM Sydney)

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