Friday, June 3, 2011

Watching a movie

His Holiness the Karmapa presented the  Buddhist notion of non-attachment with a simple yet profound metaphor - that we all live our lives as if we are in a movie. The characters, including ourselves, are fabricated beings. We give them names and identities according to their family, education, socioeconomic location, surrounding culture and media, etc. We then attach ourselves to these characters. We cry, we laugh, we feel rage and elation, or attachment and aversion. We allow ourselves to get overwhelmed and discouraged by the suffering we experience or the changes we undergo. But non-attachment is a realizing that it is all just a movie. It's a recognition that our thoughts and visions have been clouded with the many fabrications, projections, and illusions inside the movie and that we actually have a second "I" watching. This second "I" can see from all angles and can therefore respond with greater awareness and compassion. So what if we were able to step back from particularly overwhelming moments of life and respond to it as if we were watching a movie?

[Note from blogmaster: In the photo above, taking during our concluding dinner, the fabricated I we call 'Nina' offers her beautiful voice in singing a song called Ah World! composed by His Holiness... and renders it jazz style!]


  1. There is some truth to the idea that we're all just 'energy' flowing through the universe. Even so, I don't actually agree with all the stuff about self. David Hume proposed a theory which is similar in certain ways. The reason people takes things personally is due to being personally affected. This is the same reason the nervous system is affected. At the same time, in terms of cultural reality: yes, a lot of our behavior is trained and we do tend to be somewhat manipulated by one another. Sometimes this is great because we learn well and communicate better because of this. Other times people get sucked into bad choices or pushed to do things that don't really suit who they are.

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