It’s been a relaxing weekend at home. And I have been in the mood to do all sorts of crafty and homey things.
Like: 2 (failed) attempts at making my own fruit leather. A little bout of Autumn Cleaning (who says you should only do it in the Spring?) Loads and loads of laundry. As I am writing this post, these are in the oven. And in between all that I have been watching some Netflix and knitting (several) scarves.
I just finished watching The Buddha, a 2010 PBS Documentary. I thought it was pretty interesting and since I just finished The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, I thought I would do a brief review of the documentary. (I found it on Netflix, but I just discovered you can watch it for free here. Gotta love PBS)
The story begins, with Richard Gere’s wonderfully smooth voice narrating, with the birth of Siddhartha. He was the son of a king in Nepal, and was raised in the lap of luxury. Before his birth, his mother had seen a vision indicating that her unborn child was destined to either be a great political ruler or a great spiritual leader. Siddhartha’s father feared losing his son, and so he sheltered him from the suffering and sadness of the world. Siddhartha was married to his cousin and fell deeply in love with her. But soon after he discovered the true nature of the world: people grow old, become ill, and die. Just after the birth of his own son, Siddhartha set out on a quest to find a solution for human suffering. He becomes an Ascetic, hoping that in abstaining from all worldly pleasures, he would find the answers he was looking for. It got him nowhere, however. Then one day, while meditating under a tree, he experienced Awakening. He became the Buddha, or, the awakened one. The rest is history, so to speak. He realized the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold path and set out to help others overcome their suffering and find peace and joy.
I am sure I could listen to Richard Gere tell me anything and I would love it! But really, I thought this was a very well-done documentary. It featured some truly beautiful animated scenes throughout, as well as some thoughtful insights from poets, psychiatrists, university professors, Buddhist monks, and H.H. the Dalai Lama. I always feel like I can trust PBS when it comes to making a good documentary.
The Buddha was a man, not a god. Every part of this documentary really focused on the Buddha’s humanity. He enjoyed pleasures in his youth. He loved his wife passionately and he knew it would be a challenge to leave her and his newborn son. He recognized that suffering is part of life. Dissatisfaction, anger, greed: they are natural emotions. Even the Buddhist monks admit that they are not perfect. They too feel anger at times. It’s through meditation and mindfulness that they find their way out of the anger and back to peace and joy. We all age, we suffer from sickness, we die. The Buddha grew old and died, and knowing that it was his time to depart, he went peacefully.
Now, I don’t know what research the makers of this documentary did. I don’t know if these stories they told are based on fact or myth or a combination of both. I don’t think it really matters. The message is the same no matter what.
We are human. We suffer. And the key to ending suffering lies within ourselves.
That’s something I can believe in.