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Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

“Zen for Nothing”

zen-for-nothingWe are pleased to inform you about the premiere of the documentary film Zen for Nothing by Werner Penzel. The film takes place on the west coast of Japan, at the remote Zen monastery Antai-ji to which zazen was brought by the well known Japanese Sōtō Zen teacher Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965). Unlike most Japanese Zen monasteries, the center is open for both men and women and has modern additions such as available wireless internet. Zen for Nothing follows Sabine Timoteo, a young Swiss woman through the practices and lifestyle at Antai-Ji monastery, including zazen meditations, agricultural work and daily rituals.

The film will be premiering at the beginning of June, 2016 throughout Germany and Switzerland. For more information visit: http://www.zorrofilm.de/index.php?id=151

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Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey (2012)

In light of recent events in Nepal, we would like to recommend the film Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey (2012), the adventure of 700 people trekking across the Himalayas with a specific call. The film highlights areas at risk in the Himalayas and the Buddhist monks and nuns working to alleviate the effects of climate change in the region. For more information click here. You’ll find the trailer on the film’s website: http://www.padyatrafilm.com

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Last fall Martin Baumann of Lucerne came to MPI for a talk. The topic of his current research seems to shift from his “Westward path of Buddhism” to a broader understanding of religions in relation to their sociocultural bridge-building function for immigrant communities in Europe. In his case studies of Vietnamese and Tibetan Buddhists in Switzerland, Buddhism is not necessarily modernized in a European context but remains within its ethnic communities with social and moral functions for the cultural integration of Buddhist immigrants into their new host country. He successfully builds his argument with well-researched ethnographic and statistical evidence.

Turning prayer wheel. © Dan Smyer Yu

Turning prayer wheel. © Dan Smyer Yu

In comparison Buddhism of immigrant communities in the U.S. is differently perceived. I recall Jan Nattier’s phrases “baggage Buddhism,” “baggage Buddhists,” and “ethnic Buddhists” (1997). These controversial coinages in the late 1990s continue to meet contentions from Asian American Buddhists and, meanwhile, generate scholarly currency on topics of religion and immigration, and race and religion in North America. According to Nattier’s observation, Asian American Buddhist communities are “deliberately monoethnic in membership;” therefore their social networks are ethnically inbound instead of being integrative toward the mainstream society. So, allegedly “ethnic Buddhists” do not contribute to the building of “Westward Dharma” or “modern Buddhism” but build resource networks for their worldly wellbeing as immigrants in their host country. In the U.S. context, Asian American Buddhists, especially Japanese American Buddhists, whom I know, are not comfortable with Nattier’s reading of Asian American Buddhist communities, and receive it as a kind of ethnicization or racialization of Asian American Buddhists.

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Dear all,

We would like to draw your attention to the documentary Zwischen Mann, Frau und Buddha which you can check out in the ZDF Mediathek: http://www.zdf.de/ZDFmediathek/beitrag/video/1492588/Zwischen-Mann%252C-Frau-und-Buddha

In this clip, the relatively unexplored theme of the relationship of Ladyboys within Thai Buddhist traditions is brought to light. The short documentary focuses on a small cast of characters, highlighting the story of Pipop (a 15 year old boy who identifies as a Ladybody) and his recent monastic ordination. (more…)

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