Buddhist Novels et al?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby bonnee » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:48 am

Hi

I was hoping forum regulars could recommend Buddhist novels or films to me.

I want to stress that I'm not looking for 'texts' expounding Buddhist doctrine or particular schools of thought - I'm after literature or cinema which explores life within a Buddhist context, or alternatively, tries to comes to terms with Buddhist principles or practices within an everyday framework.

To clarify - the approach has to be critical or interrogative (as opposed to 'authoritive'). The only authority I want to appeal to is exploratory or questioning. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Kare » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:59 am

bonnee wrote:Hi

I was hoping forum regulars could recommend Buddhist novels or films to me.

I want to stress that I'm not looking for 'texts' expounding Buddhist doctrine or particular schools of thought - I'm after literature or cinema which explores life within a Buddhist context, or alternatively, tries to comes to terms with Buddhist principles or practices within an everyday framework.

To clarify - the approach has to be critical or interrogative (as opposed to 'authoritive'). The only authority I want to appeal to is exploratory or questioning. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks in advance.


You can observe the three kusala and the three akusala roots in any human drama, so there's a lot to pick and choose from.

To be a little more specific, in "Ran" it is said that Kurosawa lets each of the three sons embody one of the akusala roots: greed, hatred and ignorance.
Mettāya,
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Dan74 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:07 am

bonnee wrote:Hi

I was hoping forum regulars could recommend Buddhist novels or films to me.

I want to stress that I'm not looking for 'texts' expounding Buddhist doctrine or particular schools of thought - I'm after literature or cinema which explores life within a Buddhist context, or alternatively, tries to comes to terms with Buddhist principles or practices within an everyday framework.

To clarify - the approach has to be critical or interrogative (as opposed to 'authoritive'). The only authority I want to appeal to is exploratory or questioning. I hope that makes sense.

Thanks in advance.

Movies:

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (Korean)

Travelers and Magicians (Bhutanese)

Samsara (Tibetan)

Enlightenment Guaranteed (German)

Why Bodhidharma Went to the East (Korean)

Amongst White Clouds (Chinese/American documentary)

Novels:

I haven't seen much but I am partial to a Russian offering called Buddha's Little Finger in English. The translation is patchy and it starts rather erratically, but in the end gives a good shot at tackling emptiness.

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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby bonnee » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:15 am

thanks very much guys.

kind of surprised that novels appear to be thin on the ground though.
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby BlackBird » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:31 am

I think the film 'American Beauty' explores a lot of Dhamma themes, if unintentionally so.
"For a disciple who has conviction in the Teacher's message & lives to penetrate it, what accords with the Dhamma is this:
'The Blessed One is the Teacher, I am a disciple. He is the one who knows, not I." - MN. 70 Kitagiri Sutta
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:23 am

bonnee wrote:kind of surprised that novels appear to be thin on the ground though.

Maybe that's a reflection of what most of us do with our leisure, not of what's around.
I've been saying for years that I like Terry Pratchett's Discworld books - satirical SF with a keen moral sense, if you don't know them. Start with 'Feet of Clay' or 'Small Gods', for preference.
Then, explicitly Buddhist and Hindu in its mythos, Zelazny's classic 'Lord of Light'.
More classic SF exploring moral and/or religious themes but not specifically Buddhist: Ursula Le Guin's 'Left Hand of Darkness' (and a lot of her other books) and Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land.'
If you're prepared to consider real-life stories, try 'Bones of the Master' by (IIRC) George Crane, or 'Namma' (can't remember the author at all - Kate someone?). Both of them are encounters of Westerners with Asian Buddhism.

Will that help keep you occupied?
:reading:
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby zavk » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:38 am

Yes, I recently re-read a bit of Pratchett and was pleasantly surprised with how he deals with themes that resonate with the Dhamma.

David Loy has interpreted some SF/fantasy texts (including Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea stories and Miyazaki's anime films) from a Buddhist perspective, attempting to interrogate how these texts allow for a contemporary understanding of the Dhamma. The book might interest you: http://www.amazon.com/Dharma-Dragons-Da ... 0861714768
With metta,
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby bonnee » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:53 am

thanks again guys.

and wow, I'm astounded by all the references to western writers.

How could China and India managed to have not produced (say) a Tolstoy or Proust....writers that have transcended their cultures and can be cited as greats as a matter of course.
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:48 am

bonnee wrote:How could China and India managed to have not produced (say) a Tolstoy or Proust....writers that have transcended their cultures and can be cited as greats as a matter of course.

The simple answer is that the novel was largely a Western invention, and a fairly recent one at that (1720s?). The Asian novelists that come to my mind are all fairly westernised - Rushdie, Ishiguro, Murakami ...

But there's another reason we wouldn't have mentioned too many Asian novels even if they exist: we are mostly Westerners and mostly English speaking, so our reading is biased that way too.

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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Dan74 » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:19 am

I am no expert by any stretch of imagination but there have been some great Chinese novels, like Journey to the West and some others
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Great_Classical_Novels
The lack of knowledge and/or interest is more indicative of Western and especial English-speaking bias than lack of talent, I suppose.

Some info about Japanese classical literature here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_literature but to my shame I know nothing apart from some excerpts from the Art of War.

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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Kim OHara » Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:02 am

Dan74 wrote:The lack of knowledge and/or interest is more indicative of Western and especial English-speaking bias than lack of talent, I suppose.

I wouldn't say lack of talent so much as lack of a tradition but yes, our ignorance is significant. :thinking:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novel#The_novel_outside_the_West suggests that I wasn't too far off the mark before, though.
:reading:

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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Exumantra » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:39 am

How about Siddartha by Herman Hesse?
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Re: Buddhist Novels et al?

Postby Dan74 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:13 am

Exumantra wrote:How about Siddartha by Herman Hesse?


A classic!

Thanks for reminding me - I read it before I began practicing and it's due for a re-read.

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