The Best Spiritual / Awakening / Dharma Films of all Time

by SpiritFilms | created - 10 Jan 2013 | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public

Films which awaken the human spirit, connect us to the one Source, or reveal the Dharma. These are films that that lift the veil of familiarity between you and the world, revealing the beauty and mystery in the universe.

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1. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)

R | 103 min | Drama, Romance

85 Metascore

A boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple where the years pass like the seasons.

Director: Ki-duk Kim | Stars: Ki-duk Kim, Yeong-su Oh, Jong-ho Kim, Young-min Kim

Votes: 70,739 | Gross: $2.38M

A cinematic masterpiece - possibly the most beautiful backdrop for any film in history. An old monk lives on a beautiful floating temple. As he tries live in balance and harmony the people who come into his world teach him deep lessons about life as he teaches them.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer HAL 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 534,247 | Gross: $56.95M

A classic artistic and cinematic masterpiece which explores what it means to have consciousness, purpose, destiny and how to achieve evolutionary transcendence.

3. Baraka (1992)

Not Rated | 96 min | Documentary

A collection of expertly photographed scenes of human life and religion.

Director: Ron Fricke

Votes: 32,735 | Gross: $1.25M

A wordless journey into the visual patterns of nature juxtaposed with the patterns that humanity has created on this planet. Spiritually uplifting, the soul dances after watching this film.

4. Groundhog Day (1993)

PG | 101 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

72 Metascore

A weatherman finds himself inexplicably living the same day over and over again.

Director: Harold Ramis | Stars: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, Stephen Tobolowsky

Votes: 535,718 | Gross: $70.91M

Billy Murray lives the same day over and over until he gets it right. A metaphor for awakening to our true nature which is to be selflessness and loving.

5. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

59 Metascore

When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni | Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano

Votes: 543,488 | Gross: $57.60M

Within the most terrible situations beauty and transcendence is possible through the use of imagination and love. A Nazi concentration camp experience is transformed for one child through the loving determination of his father.

6. The Matrix (1999)

R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi

73 Metascore

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 1,484,743 | Gross: $171.48M

The Matrix is the illusion that we live in... the conditioned patterns that keep us from experiencing our true nature. Based on ancient Vedic teachings "The Matrix" is vedanta for the modern world.

7. Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds (2012)

Not Rated | 122 min | Documentary, History

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 names throughout history.

Director: Daniel Schmidt | Star: Patrick Sweeney

Votes: 1,480

Awakened beings such as Christ, Buddha, Krishna and Lao Tse all share a common root connection; one could call this the archetypal spiritual experience. This common inner connection is what lies at the core of all spiritual traditions. Inner Worlds Outer Worlds reconnects us, makes us remember who we are, brings us back to the One Source that most of humanity has forgotten. It is more than a film - it is a template for a new world that humanity is evolving towards.

8. Samadhi (2017)

PG | 60 min | Documentary

Samadhi Part 1 is the first installment in a series of films exploring Samadhi, an ancient Sanskrit word which points toward the mystical or transcendent union that is at the root of all spirituality and self inquiry.

Director: Daniel Schmidt

Votes: 249

A poignant, direct look at the human condition, and what is required to return to "union" with the source.

9. Fight Club (1999)

R | 139 min | Drama

66 Metascore

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher | Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf, Zach Grenier

Votes: 1,654,138 | Gross: $37.03M

My favorite quote from the film: 'It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything'. Fight club is about the fight that goes on within each of us to become the person we are meant to be. It is about destiny vs. anarchy, rules vs. freedom, and overcoming our fear and conditioned patterns.

10. Avatar (2009)

PG-13 | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

83 Metascore

A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez

Votes: 1,032,199 | Gross: $760.51M

There is an intelligence that moves through nature and through us. It is the connection to spirit that has been lost in our society. Avatar recognizes this loss and the behavior that perpetuates our belief in our separateness.

11. DMT: The Spirit Molecule (2010)

Not Rated | 75 min | Documentary

An investigation into the long-obscured mystery of dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a molecule found in nearly every living organism and considered the most potent psychedelic on Earth.

Director: Mitch Schultz | Stars: Joe Rogan, Ralph Abraham, Joel Bakst, Steven Barker

Votes: 4,129

DMT is the chemical that produces the experience during Shamanic Ayahuasca journeys. It is the doorway to a certain type of transcendent experience.

12. Die Geschichte vom weinenden Kamel (2003)

PG | 93 min | Documentary, Drama, Family

81 Metascore

When a Mongolian nomadic family's newest camel colt is rejected by its mother, a musician is needed for a ritual to change her mind.

Directors: Byambasuren Davaa, Luigi Falorni | Stars: Janchiv Ayurzana, Chimed Ohin, Amgaabazar Gonson, Zeveljamz Nyam

Votes: 5,763 | Gross: $1.74M

A slow moving film that is sort of like an active meditation. Even the most jaded and crusty hearts are capable of opening.

13. Samadhi Movie. Part 2. It's Not What You Think (2018)

71 min | Documentary

Samadhi Movie. Part 2 (It's not what you think) is the second installment of a series of films exploring Samadhi.

Director: Daniel Schmidt

Votes: 82

Through the use of various metaphors and analogies the director comes as close as possible to telling the Tao that cannot be told.

14. Amélie (2001)

R | 122 min | Comedy, Romance

69 Metascore

Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love.

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet | Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Lorella Cravotta

Votes: 644,545 | Gross: $33.23M

A charming film about a French girl with a powerful imagination who sets things right in the world around her. Think of her as karma in action.

15. Samsara (I) (2011)

PG-13 | 102 min | Documentary, Music

65 Metascore

Filmed over nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on seventy-millimetre film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.

Director: Ron Fricke | Stars: Balinese Tari Legong Dancers, Ni Made Megahadi Pratiwi, Puti Sri Candra Dewi, Putu Dinda Pratika

Votes: 29,262 | Gross: $2.60M

Samsara is the endless cycle of suffering. From the creators of Baraka comes a visual journey through the tragic comedy which is our human existence.

16. Samsara (2001)

R | 138 min | Adventure, Drama, Romance

A spiritual love-story set in the majestic landscape of Ladakh, Himalayas. Samsara is a quest; one man's struggle to find spiritual Enlightenment by renouncing the world. And one woman's ... See full summary »

Director: Pan Nalin | Stars: Shawn Ku, Christy Chung, Neelesha Barthel, Lhakpa Tsering

Votes: 6,962

A monk seeking enlightenment in a cave is drawn back into the world to experience the comic tragedy that we call love.

17. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)

R | 172 min | Drama

91 Metascore

The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior's endurance and battle of its menace.

Director: Zacharias Kunuk | Stars: Natar Ungalaaq, Sylvia Ivalu, Peter-Henry Arnatsiaq, Lucy Tulugarjuk

Votes: 5,999 | Gross: $3.79M

18. Life of Pi (2012)

PG | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

79 Metascore

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Tabu

Votes: 529,035 | Gross: $124.99M

19. Ram Dass, Fierce Grace (2001)

Not Rated | 93 min | Documentary

After Richard Alpert was fired from Harvard in 1963 for conducting psychedelic drug research, he journeyed to India, found a guru and was renamed Ram Dass ("Servant of God").

Director: Mickey Lemle | Stars: Ram Dass, William Alpert, Larry Brilliant, Bhagavan Das

Votes: 354 | Gross: $0.24M

Ram Dass was a student of Maharaji who became a popular spiritual teacher in the 1960's. This film tells of his connection to Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary in his search for transcendence, and moves into new lessons in old age.

The book of how to live and how to die, the way of liberation, narrated by Leonard Cohen.

21. Apocalypto (2006)

R | 139 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

68 Metascore

As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, a young man is taken on a perilous journey to a world ruled by fear and oppression.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Gerardo Taracena, Raoul Max Trujillo, Dalia Hernández, Rudy Youngblood

Votes: 268,716 | Gross: $50.87M

A film that will get your blood stirring and connect you to a sense of the destiny, mystery and tragedy of human life. You feel the power that has been lost in the modern world.

22. CoSM the Movie: Alex Grey & the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (2006)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

A cinematic journey through the visionary art of Alex Grey and The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.

Director: Nick Krasnic | Star: Alex Grey

Votes: 121

The visionary art of Alex Grey comes from a place of transcendence has has common roots in various traditions. A fascinating look at an artist who channels spirit into his work.

23. Erleuchtung garantiert (1999)

109 min | Drama, Comedy

68 Metascore

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 ... See full summary »

Director: Doris Dörrie | Stars: Uwe Ochsenknecht, Gustav-Peter Wöhler, Petra Zieser, Ulrike Kriener

Votes: 1,219

A fun film about two brothers who end up at Zen temple and find that enlightenment is not what they expected.

24. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006)

112 min | Drama

A portrayal of the lives of the last great Inuit shaman, Avva, and his beautiful and headstrong daughter, Apak. Based on the journals of 1920s Danish ethnographer Knud Rasmussen.

Directors: Norman Cohn, Zacharias Kunuk | Stars: Pakak Innuksuk, Leah Angutimarik, Neeve Irngaut, Natar Ungalaaq

Votes: 323

Knud Rasmussen documents the story of a Shaman and gives insights into a seldom seen world.

25. What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole (2006)

156 min | Documentary, Drama

45 Metascore

Interviews with scientists and authors, animated bits, and a storyline involving a deaf photographer are used in this docudrama to illustrate the link between quantum mechanics, neurobiology, human consciousness and day-to-day reality.

Directors: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente | Stars: Marlee Matlin, Elaine Hendrix, Barry Newman, Armin Shimerman

Votes: 2,472 | Gross: $0.14M

The follow-up to the original "What the Bleep". More about Quantum physics and the fraying edges of science, and what it means for our understanding of reality.

26. Peaceful Warrior (2006)

PG-13 | 120 min | Drama, Romance, Sport

40 Metascore

A chance encounter with a stranger changes the life of a college gymnast.

Director: Victor Salva | Stars: Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart, Tim DeKay

Votes: 24,535 | Gross: $3.96M

A gymnast meets an illusive teacher where he is taught to find the path to stillness beyond the egoic sense of self.

27. The Dhamma Brothers (2008)

76 min | Documentary

East meets West in the Deep South. An overcrowded maximum-security prison-the end of the line in Alabama's correctional system-is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient ... See full summary »

Directors: Andrew Kukura, Jenny Phillips, Anne Marie Stein | Stars: Grady Bankhead, Ron Cavanaugh, Jonathan Crowley, Edward Johnson

Votes: 410 | Gross: $0.03M

A documentary about meditation in the prison system. It shows the possibility of real transformation, rehabilitation and hope.

28. La belle verte (1996)

99 min | Comedy

The "Green Planet" belongs to another solar system. Through the simplicity of their lifestyle those who live there are a real step ahead of us: they spend their time concentrating their ... See full summary »

Director: Coline Serreau | Stars: Coline Serreau, Vincent Lindon, James Thierrée, Samuel Tasinaje

Votes: 3,612

29. Waking Life (2001)

R | 99 min | Animation, Drama, Fantasy

82 Metascore

A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.

Director: Richard Linklater | Stars: Ethan Hawke, Trevor Jack Brooks, Lorelei Linklater, Wiley Wiggins

Votes: 56,592 | Gross: $2.89M

Once we realize that we a living a dream within a dream, we have the possibility of being awake.

30. Tuning In (2008)

Not Rated | 80 min | Documentary

A feature-length documentary exploring, for the very first time and in a very down-to-earth fashion, the phenomenon of channeling.

Director: David Thomas | Stars: Darryl Anka, John Cali, Lee Carroll, Geoffrey Hoppe

Votes: 179

A documentary containing interviews from some of the great channelers of our time. Much of this wisdom is years ahead of where humanity is at now.

31. The Living Matrix (2009)

Not Rated | 83 min | Documentary

Our film, The Living Matrix - The Science of Healing, uncovers new ideas about the intricate web of factors that determine our health. We talk with a group of dedicated scientists, ... See full summary »

Director: Greg Becker | Stars: Adam Dreamhealer, Arielle Essex, Peter Fraser, Bruce Lipton

Votes: 164

By living in alignment with the matrix of the universe we can bring ourselves back to health.

32. The Fountain (2006)

PG-13 | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

51 Metascore

As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.

Director: Darren Aronofsky | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Sean Patrick Thomas, Ellen Burstyn

Votes: 215,129 | Gross: $10.14M

33. Kumaré (2011)

Not Rated | 84 min | Documentary

60 Metascore

A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. At the height of his popularity, the Guru Kumaré must reveal his true identity to his disciples and unveil his greatest teaching of all.

Director: Vikram Gandhi | Stars: Vikram Gandhi, Toby, Greg, Molly

Votes: 4,467 | Gross: $0.13M

The guru is within each of us.

34. The Life of Buddha (2007)

105 min | Animation, Biography, Drama

A BBC/Discovery Channel co-production, this docu-narrative film describes the life of Siddharta Gautama, the process by which he arrived at the fundamentals of Buddhism and the ... See full synopsis »

Director: Kritsaman Wattananarong | Stars: Sarut Wijittranon, Supattra Thiwanon, Komgrit Triwimol, Panrapee Rapeepan

Votes: 136

An excellent BBC documentary explores the classic story of the Buddha.

35. August Rush (2007)

PG | 114 min | Drama, Music

38 Metascore

An orphaned musical prodigy uses his gift to try to find his birth parents.

Director: Kirsten Sheridan | Stars: Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard

Votes: 98,456 | Gross: $31.66M

The film conveys a profound realization of the power of intention, synchronicity and the inner mechanism for following one's bliss.

36. Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

Not Rated | 86 min | Documentary, Music

A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity and the relationship between them.

Director: Godfrey Reggio | Stars: Lou Dobbs, Ted Koppel

Votes: 31,529 | Gross: $1.72M

A wordless journey into nature. Beautiful soundtrack by Philip Glass.

37. Whale Rider (2002)

PG-13 | 101 min | Drama, Family

80 Metascore

A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.

Director: Niki Caro | Stars: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis

Votes: 37,384 | Gross: $20.78M

A young Maori girl fulfills a destiny that those around her refuse to see or acknowledge.

38. Zen Noir (2004)

71 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

27 Metascore

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, Ezra Buzzington

Votes: 314

A left-brain detective is immersed into the world of Zen when he investigates a crime. The biggest mystery is not who the suspect is, but who he himself is.

39. Cloud Atlas (2012)

R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

55 Metascore

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 324,309 | Gross: $27.11M

An attempt at conveying a sense of the cycles of dharma, the Kalachakra, the wheels of time that we are bound to, and the archetypes and themes that move through history and through lives.

40. Blade Runner (1982)

R | 117 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

89 Metascore

A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Votes: 620,275 | Gross: $27.00M

Based on the book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". Blade Runner ultimately asks the question "What is life, what is consciousness?".

41. A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki (2006)

77 min | Documentary

About the life & legacy of D.T. Suzuki (1870 - 1966), credited with introducing Zen philosophy to the West.

Director: Michael Goldberg | Stars: Robert Aitken, Shojun Bando, John Cage, Alwin Carus

Votes: 26

A glimpse of the great Zen teacher who popularized Zen in the West. The way of Zen is a path, not a destination.

42. Zen (2009)

127 min | Biography, Drama

'Zen' Buddhist teacher Dogen Zenji is a very important religious person during the Kamakura period, 750 years ago. After his mother died, he decides to move to China and settle as a ... See full summary »

Director: Banmei Takahashi | Stars: Kankurô Nakamura, Yuki Uchida, Ryushin Tei, Kengo Kôra

Votes: 850

A beautiful film that explores the life of a Zen Buddhist master.

43. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

86 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 979,745 | Gross: $130.10M

This film lifts the veil on the American dream to show us the truth about beauty, suffering and where true happiness can be found.

44. Schindler's List (1993)

R | 195 min | Biography, Drama, History

93 Metascore

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Caroline Goodall

Votes: 1,070,990 | Gross: $96.07M

45. Joseph Campbell: Sukhavati (2005)

Not Rated | 79 min

Through archival excerpts from his finest filmed lectures interwoven with exquisite images and evocative music from around the world, renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell takes us on a ... See full summary »

Votes: 30

Mythologist and author Joseph Campbell narrates a journey through archetypal images, leading us from the unconscious to the conscious.

46. The Truman Show (1998)

PG | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

An insurance salesman discovers his whole life is actually a reality TV show.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich

Votes: 827,451 | Gross: $125.62M

47. The Yogis of Tibet (2002 Video)

Documentary

For the first time, the reclusive and secretive Tibetan monks agree to discuss aspects of their philosophy and allow themselves to be filmed while performing their ancient practices.

Director: Jeffrey M. Pill | Stars: Jeffrey Gibson, Geshe Yeshi Chophel, The Dalai Lama, Ani Konchok Khandro

Votes: 151

A glimpse into the lives of yogic masters and a world that has remained largely hidden and inaccessible. This film is not to be missed by those on the spiritual path.