Saturday, November 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Rainbow Body of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism; Dudjom Buddhist Association, 2001


Lineage charts (in Tibetan/Chinese; English follow)

More lineage charts

Still more

Enough already

This hour-length documentary is a promotional film substantiating the lineage claims and educational work of Hong Kong lama Yeshe Thaye (Chan Kin-keung, David) of the Dudjom Buddhist Association. It begins at the beginning, with the birth, renunciation and enlightenment of the Buddha and continues on through to the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and an account of the great masters of the Nyingma school, right down to Tibetan Rinpoche Kyabje Chadral Sangye Dorje, his Hong Kong disciple Guru Lao Yui Che, and Lao's student, Yeshe Thaye. This is followed by a summary of lama Yeshe Thaye's dharma activities in Hong Kong, and a 17 minute teaching by Kyabje Chadral Sangye Dorje Rinpoche (covering some of the most basic Buddhist formulas, such as cultivating virtuous actions and avoiding unvirtuous ones; that is, do good, don't do bad).

With the exception of the lecture, much of the film is made up of lama Yeshe Thaye's personal photographs from trips to India and Nepal, as well as video of seminars and meditation practice at his Hong Kong center. Surprisingly we never hear the voice of the film's subject, lama Yeshe Thaye. His image is there in photograph after photograph with his teachers or with his students, but we never hear from him directly. The film ends on a note of bad taste, a kitschy montage of Buddhist homilies (life is fleeting, we don't know when death will come, etc, etc.) in a garish melange of fonts and colors superimposed on flowers, waterfalls, clouds, and other scenes from nature and accompanied by anemic midi-melodies. Lama Yeshe Thaye is most certainly a sincere and well-meaning person. Unfortunately, his film is not so good. In fact, it's one you most definitely want to miss.

Copies of The Rainbow Body of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (2001) can be found at various sites across the internet, as well as the website of the Dudjom Buddhist Association International Limited.



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