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How do you reconcile a commitment to non-violence when faced with violence? Why do the poor often seem happier than the rich? Must a society lose its traditions in order to move into the future? These are some of the questions posed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama by filmmaker and explorer Rick Ray. Ray examines some of the fundamental questions of our time by weaving together observations from his own journeys throughout India and the Middle East, and the wisdom of an extraordinary spiritual leader. This is his story, as told and filmed by Rick Ray during a private visit to his monastery in Dharamsala, India over the course of several months. Also included is rare historical footage as well as footage supplied by individuals who at great personal risk, filmed with hidden cameras within Tibet. Part biography, part philosophy, part adventure and part politics, "10 Questions for The Dalai Lama" conveys more than history and more than answers - it opens a window into the heart of an ... Written by
monterey media/Rick Ray Films
In "10 Questions for the Dalai Lama," documentary filmmaker Rick Ray journeys to Dharamsala in northern India to speak with the man he describes as both a "humble Buddhist monk" and a "rock star of peace," and who is believed by many to be the reincarnation of Buddha here on earth (though the Dalai Lama himself denies this, insisting that he is a mere mortal like everyone else).
You don't have to be a believer or even a particularly spiritual person to be moved and inspired by this film, which provides us with a rare up-close-and-personal look at one of the key religious figures in the world today. What comes out both in the interview and in the various glimpses we are given of him in his meetings with many of the world's movers and shakers in government and religion, is just what a fun-loving, down-to-earth, and self-effacing a man he truly is, even though he is never shy about confronting injustice whenever or wherever it rears its ugly head. Much of that feistiness derives, of course, from his own experience of having to flee his native Tibet in the early 1950's when the Communist Chinese invaded that country, and then being forced to live as an exile in a foreign land ever since.
To a disinterested observer, the Dalai Lama may seem, in many ways, to be a walking contradiction; an advocate for the ancient art of transcendence through meditation, he is also a passionate devotee of science and a champion of modern technology (his monks are very "hep" to the internet, and he, himself, is well-versed in quantum physics and neuroscience). In fact, if there is disagreement between science and religion, he will generally come down on the side of science. Fiercely ecumenical and tolerant of the beliefs of others, he's quick to point out the flaws in his own traditional beliefs when they conflict with the more enlightened ways of the modern world (the elimination of the caste system, equality for women etc.). The Dalai Lama comes across as a man ruled as much by the practical concerns of having to exist in a highly diverse, multicultural world as by his obviously innate love for humanity itself.
But it is when confronted with the question of how to respond to evil in the world that this man shows what he is truly made of. A passionate believer in civil disobedience (like Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King before him), the Dalai Lama stays true to his principles by not calling for violent action even against his own people's oppressors, the Chinese. He still believes, all these years later, that more can be gained by engaging on a personal level with one's enemy than by fighting them. That's a bit tough for us in the West to understand, especially when the film shows us the terrible suffering and injustice the Tibetan people have endured under Communist rule. Yet, when you hear him speak, it's impossible not to be convinced by the depth of his wisdom and the force of his moral character.
Going beyond the conversation itself, Ray provides fascinating background information on the history of Buddhism, the invasion of Tibet, and the biographical details of the Dalai Lama himself, including how he was chosen for this exalted position, how he spent his childhood, how he fled the invaders when still a teen, and how he has dedicated his life since to fighting, through nonviolent means, for the restoration of Tibet to its rightful people.
Filled with exquisite vistas and beautiful images of nature, Ray's film is a passionate cry for justice as well as a finely-wrought, contemplative vision of a leader who calls upon the better angels in all of us to help make this world a more peaceful place both for ourselves and those who will come after us.
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