MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 2,908 this week

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable (1989)
"Dharmaga tongjoguro kan kkadalgun" (original title)

7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 866 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 9 critic

Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok... See full summary »

Director:

Writer:

0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

Editors' Spotlight

Alpha House Premieres Today

All ten episodes of the second season of "Alpha House" are available starting today. Watch them now, only on Prime Instant Video.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

list image
a list of 37 titles
created 16 Sep 2011
 
a list of 48 titles
created 04 Feb 2012
 
a list of 25 titles
created 17 Jan 2013
 
a list of 30 titles
created 11 Feb 2013
 
a list of 46 titles
created 01 Jun 2013
 

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable (1989)

Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable (1989) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?: A Zen Fable.
2 wins. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Zen Noir (2004)
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A nameless 'noir' detective, still mourning the loss of his wife, investigates a mysterious death in a Buddhist temple, but his logical, left-brained crime-solving skills are useless in the intuitive, non-linear world of Zen.

Director: Marc Rosenbush
Stars: Duane Sharp, Kim Chan, Debra Miller
Tuning In (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A feature-length documentary exploring, for the very first time and in a very down-to-earth fashion, the phenomenon of channeling. Popularized by the late Edgar Cayce, this ancient and ... See full summary »

Director: David Thomas
Stars: Darryl Anka, John Cali, Lee Carroll
Documentary | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.7/10 X  

As interest grows in the psychoactive visionary brew Ayahuasca (the Mother of all 'teacher plants') so does the question of how to explain this mysterious phenomenon to the uninitiated ... See full summary »

Director: Michael Wiese
Stars: Pablo Amaringo, José Campos
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

There is one vibratory field that connects all things. It has been called Akasha, Logos, the primordial OM, the music of the spheres, the Higgs field, dark energy, and a thousand other ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Schmidt
Stars: Patrick Sweeney
Reconvergence (2012)
Documentary | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Reconvergence offers an intriguing exploration of mortality, consciousness and identity in the modern age from the perspectives of four distinct characters: a naturalist, a neuroscientist, ... See full summary »

Director: Edward Tyndall
Stars: Eustace Conway, Preston Estep III, S. Waite Rawls III
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Director: Mickey Lemle
Stars: William Alpert, Ram Dass, Larry Brilliant
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

An exploration of the notion of 'God' and World Peace through Religion, Spirituality, History, Science, Politics and Arts.

Director: Emmanuel Itier
Stars: Karen Armstrong, Michael Beckwith, Mustapha Cherif
Wisdom (Video 2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Inspired by the idea that one of the greatest gifts one generation can give to another is the wisdom gained from experience, filmmaker and photographer Andrew Zuckerman traveled the globe ... See full summary »

Director: Andrew Zuckerman
Stars: Richard Adams, Buzz Aldrin, David Amram
Documentary | News
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Mother, the film, breaks a 40-year taboo by bringing to light an issue that silently fuels our largest environmental, humanitarian and social crises - population growth. Since the 1960s the... See full summary »

Director: Christophe Fauchere
Stars: Albert Bartlett, Paul Ehrlich
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Ayurveda is science of life and art of healing; where body, mind and spirit are given equal importance. This voyage of thousands of miles across India and abroad takes you on a unique ... See full summary »

Director: Pan Nalin
Adventure | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Karma, a young Tibetan woman from New York City comes to Dharamsala, the exile headquarters of the Dalai Lama in India, in search of her roots. She is making a documentary film about former... See full summary »

Directors: Ritu Sarin, Tenzing Sonam
Stars: Tenzin Chokyi Gyatso, Tenzin Jigme, Jampa Kalsang
Mandala (1981)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Director: Kwon-taek Im
Stars: Sung-kee Ahn, Mu-song Jeon, Jong-su Kim
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Yi Pan-Yong ...
Hye-gok
Sin Won-Sop ...
Ki-bong
Hae-Jin Huang ...
Hae-jin
Su-Myong Ko ...
Abbot
Byeong-hui Yun ...
Ki-bong's mother
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Myeong-deok Choi
Hui-yeong Kim ...
The Other Disciple
Eun-yeong Lee
Seon-hye Lee
Edit

Storyline

Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok calls him Kibong!; and, an orphan lad Haejin, whom Hyegok has brought to the monastery to raise as a monk. The story is mostly Yong Nan's, told in flashbacks: how he came to the monastery, his brief return to the city, his vacillation between the turbulence of the world and his hope to overcome passions and escape the idea of self. We also see Hyegok as a teacher, a protector, and a father figure, and we watch Haejin make his way as a curious and nearly self-sufficient child. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 September 1989 (South Korea)  »

Also Known As:

Why Did Bodhi-Dharma Leave for the East?  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Film took seven years to complete, using a single camera, and was edited entirely by hand. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hyegok: Haejin! Haejin! There is no beginning and no end. Nothing is immutable, everything changes. That thing which does not come into being does not die.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Listen, as the question answers itself
8 June 2011 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

How to approach beautiful, crazy Zen in a way that makes sense to us in the West? In a way that it, and this film, can actually inform us.

This problem, one of translation, was inherited by cinema. China conceived this poetry where humane dispassion is passionately sung about, where a flower looks back at us looking at it, but we know of Zen from Japan, us here most likely from their cinema. Perhaps even without knowing it.

But when the most fascinating form to express it in came along, so did Mao. Japan shouldered the task to do what the Chinese couldn't, with their affinity for broken symmetries and abstraction cultivated in the tea room, but even here we concede to a certain unfamiliarity that keeps these things at a distance. Teshigahara makes some general sense to us, but he's not really opened until we learn about ikebana.

How to bridge the rift then? Which is bigger than we think because we have the words, 'emptiness', 'desire', 'self', but mean by them wholly different things than the Buddhist.

Which is to say; having been brought up in a culture that distinguishes between the omnipresent creator who created something out of nothing and us as creatures separately placed in that world to atone for an original, ancestral sin (which means that the world itself is the punishment), or still swears by Descartes' old stratagem that we are because we think, how can we begin to wrap our heads around notions of emptiness as actually soothing? What are we to make of Zen poems that speak of death, which so terrifies us, as merely the echoes of bamboo flutes returning to the bamboo forest?

When Zen Master Ikkyu says that "I'd like to offer something to help you; but in Zen, we don't have a single thing", take his word for it. He's being a bit of a smartass, but that's because he wants you to listen for a moment. Which is to say that if we come to this looking for something, a taste of Zen that will guide us home, we'll likely have to struggle to stay awake long enough to realize that there is nothing to be offered.

More precisely, nothing to be taught. But if we become aware instead? If we come to embody what the film does? We are related with various aspects of the teachings here, how ego and desire bind us, how in stillness of mind we can free ourselves of those bonds. The illusionary burden of duality. But as the young monk meditates, a cow breaks free of her captivity. So what to do?

Down in the city, the monk offers up his alms' bowl in the middle of the busy marketplace. This is where stillness of mind attains proper meaning, in the sound and fury.

But again, if the film has few words to impart, and it does, like a visual mantra which in repetition calls for us to concentrate on the texture of the sound itself, what are we to take from it? Perhaps a few pointers to wisdom, mere signposts on the road.

Most importantly, meditational absorption (the actual Chan/Zen). Again we may be troubled by our inclination to regard images here as symbolic, as meaning something else, a flying crow or a cow leading a boy, when things are actually simpler; which is the most complex they can be. This is not a mystical work, things here mean what they are. If it is difficult to come to terms with this, it's because we've been so accustomed to grasp 'flower' by what stored ideas we have of 'flower'. Descartes again.

But to depart is to arrive, as the dying Zen master says. To send the mind out is to see it come back again. Isn't that cool? So how to depart from established notions? How to look at the flower as it looks back at us, to actually do this?

One of the great contributions of Zen to this conundrum is the koan, the enigmatic phrase whose purpose is to tie our tongue so that we may reflect in silence. There is a koan asked of the novice in this, which points towards the kensho, the awakening of the true self. The title of the film is another. Life is the most complex; how to gather all the different notes we can feel played out in us into a single harmonious music? And how to play that music, actively, joyfully, as it plays us?

There is no right or wrong answer to these, other than what we embody through our experience. Embodying this is enough. And by this I don't mean a fancier version of being 'mesmerized'. I mean be one with it, like the calligrapher becomes one with his brush, the haiku poet with his blank paper. Hear what is said, then be quiet as the question answers itself.

Something to meditate upon.


4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Where to find the DVD? moviereviewcomment
New Director's Edition DVD from Milestone tigersnest
Material Things ? l-kempson

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?