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The Dalai Lama,
Two very different brothers get together for a temporary stay in a Japanese zen monastry. The trip from Germany to Japan brings up some unexpected quests they have to manage. Soon both really have to leave their ordinary lifes behind and are on a voyage to themselves. Written by
"To live is to suffer," says brother Gustav, blissfully. "Buddha's first noble truth."
Enlightenment Guaranteed, a German Zen comedy is an amazing film that succeeds on several levels: as an insight into Buddhist philosophy and practice, as the maturing process of two brothers, and as a look at the hectic world of Tokyo, Japan. I won't guarantee you'll be enlightened but I'm sure you'll be entertained.
Shot with digital video, the film revolves around two brothers, Gustav, (Gustav Peter Wöhler), a single Feng Shui consultant, and Uwe (Uwe Ochsenknecht), a salesman whose wife and children have just left him. After his brother's marital breakup, Gustav reluctantly takes Uwe with him to the Sojiji Soin Father Temple (a Zen monastery) in Monzen, outside of Tokyo.
Their adventures in Tokyo are funny and touching. One time they get lost and cannot find their way back to their hotel. Another time they run out of money and are bilked by a singing ATM machine in a hilarious sequence. Finally, they end up sleeping in cardboard boxes, then in a tent next to a railroad train. The two are thoroughly spent when they finally arrive at Monzen. There is a stunning contrast between the frenetic pace of Tokyo and the serene setting of the monastery.
The brothers have to get used to getting up at 4:30 A.M., taking cold baths, running cleaning rags across the floor and the elaborate unwrapping of eating utensils. Roles are reversed to a certain extent as Gustav buckles under pressure, while the uninitiated Uwe, merely along for the ride, proves surprisingly adaptable to the rigors of monastery life. The two brothers gradually lose "control" of their lives and learn to live in the present. As the Abbot of Monzen explains, enlightenment is not the achievement of something, but the absence of something. In Uwe's case, it might be the absence of attachment to the circumstances of his life.
Enlightenment Guaranteed is a celebration of the act of looking within ourselves to unravel the mysteries of who we really are. The clanging of the various chimes and gongs, the beating of the drums, and the meditation rituals of the Buddhist monks create an atmosphere of calm and spirituality that left me with a feeling of joy.
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