This via Buddhist Art News: the new documentary Jesus and Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions is now available for free viewing online. The filmmakers were kind enough to send me a copy, which I plan to screen for our students in the Buddhist Chaplaincy Department at University of the West.
The film is described in this way:
Three leading figures in today’s Buddhist-Christian dialogue share their personal journeys in the new documentary “Jesus and Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions.” We learn how following the path of the Buddha has informed and deepened their understanding of who Jesus was and what he taught. Their experience and insight bring these two liberating archetypes alive in a way that can help guide us through our own confusion and struggle toward lives filled with joy and gratitude, compassion, and service. The film features: Father Robert Kennedy, a Jesuit priest and Zen teacher; Chung Hyun Kyung, Professor of Ecumenical Theology and Interfaith Engagement at Union Theological Seminary and a Buddhist Dharma teacher; and Paul Knitter, Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary. During the course of the film, we see that the struggles and anxieties that motivate them are our own. What’s more, their reflections throw the light back on us. We can see better the prison of our ceaseless preoccupations, our obsessions, our animosities. Perhaps our own notions of the spiritual path have been limited by our need for answers and our desire for comfort. In the end it becomes clear from these witnesses that this is not a journey that depends on concepts and abstractions—and definitive answers are beyond our grasp. The journey is rather one of practice and insight. The path these travelers point us to is infinitely spacious and ultimately fulfilling—it can hold all of the contradictions and the questions as it leads further and deeper into the ‘incomprehensible mystery’ that is this life. Maybe we don’t need to enter a monastery or go to the desert, but some form of discipline may be necessary if we are to move beyond the self as the center of identity and into the liberating vastness of the ‘Buddha-field’ or the nourishing wholeness of the ‘Christ-reality.’
I’m posting about it here, at this blog about Buddhism and social justice, for a couple of reasons. Chief among them, though, is my belief that interfaith dialogue is a kind of social justice effort in that so much suffering comes from tensions (real or perceived) between spiritual communities. Seeking to understand each other better, as the filmmakers and participants do here, is, in my view, very important work.
You can watch the film in its entirety for free here.